PlanIT — A UX Case Study

Design Interactive
6 min readDec 18, 2023

Introduction

Plan it! Are you ready to launch your trip plans? Over the span of a 6-week design sprint, our team addresses the question:

How might we develop a comprehensive trip planning platform that simplifies the process of organizing group events, making it effortless for friends and colleagues to collaboratively plan and create memorable experiences?

Our solution was to create a mobile application to plan trips and collaborate with friends, utilizing Figma.

Awarded Most Innovative UX

User Research

Methods

  1. User Surveys
  • Collect qualitative data to better understand the problem space.
  • Identify qualities of our intended users.
  • Identify current platforms that users are currently using to plan trips.

2. User Interviews

  • Identify user journey of trip planning.
  • Identify pain points users experience during trip planning process.
  • Validate/invalidate data points from user survey.

Survey Data

  • 63% of students are highly interested in going on trips with friends
  • 26% say their plans make it out of the group chat

Interview Data

  • “Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone to find common ground when deciding on activities”
  • “Usually one person does the planning and delegate tasks”
  • “[currently uses] imessage or a texting platform” to plan trips

Key Takeaways

The problem space of trip planning does exist. In the UC Davis student population there is a gap between wanting to take a trip with friends and actually going on the trip. Communication and compromising were the biggest pain points for users.

Ideation

Affinity Mapping

Through our user surveys and interviews, we categorized our feedback into four key pain points when planning group trips:

  • Lack of communication: It is difficult to get everyone on the same page and there can be a lot of confusion regarding trip details.
  • Finding activities everyone wants to do: Oftentimes, only 1–2 people end up planning the entire trip. With a lack of equal participation in trip planning, not everyone will be as ecstatic for the trip.
  • Splitting Costs: Expenses add up from all parts of the trip and can get quite confusing, and easily lost in the group chat.
  • Scheduling: It is difficult to find a time that works for everyone’s busy schedules, especially in larger group settings.

From these key pain points, we rewrote our How Might We statement to more specifically address these issues:

How might we create a mobile application that streamlines the communication of trip plans, engages all trip attendees in decision making, and simplifies the trip planning process?

Initial Sketches

With these key pain points in mind, we came up with a few sketches. Some of the features we came up with were:

  • a “My Trips” section
  • Groupchats with polls
  • Expenses section

Mid-Fi Prototyping

We went from sketches to digital frames by looking over our sketches to help us visualize and iterate on design concepts. We brought our ideas for problem solutions into product features by clearly defining our problem and challenges and understanding the pain points of users and stakeholders. We decided to add features that guided the user through the trip planning process, and broke it down to four basic sections: friends, availability, location, and activities. We added a profile page to showcase your past itineraries, as well as a discover section to allow users to explore new ideas.

Usability Testing

Task Run Throughs

  • Home page — Can you please create a new trip and talk aloud the steps you are taking to complete this task?
  • Trip page — Are you able to please add an activity to the itinerary? Are you able to please add a friend to your trip? Are you able to add destination options?
  • Friends page — Are you able to click into an itinerary and save it? Are you able to navigate to the discover page and save an itinerary?
  • Message page — Please click into a trip group message and send a poll.

Findings

Onboarding

  • Wished to see all steps before starting
  • Intimidated by having to make concrete decisions so quickly

Planning a Trip

  • Enjoyed the columns to separate tasks
  • Confused with the itinerary page
  • Unclear on knowing when the trip is fully finalized

Past, Current, Upcoming Trip

  • Enjoyed seeing current trips on the home page
  • Mixed up the difference between the two map icons
  • Thought the layout could be more concise

Discover

  • Confused about the positioning of the save button
  • Wondered the difference between “day trip” icons versus “for you”
  • Curious as to where discover content was coming from

Messaging

  • Appreciated a messaging feature to communicate with other attendees
  • Mentioned that messaging might not be helpful as they don’t plan trips often

Demographic makeup

  • College students with the age average of 18–23 years old.

Hi-Fi Prototyping

Design System

Logo

PlanIT is a play on words between “plan it” and “planet” — our mission is to help users launch their plans for trips that are out-of-this-world.

Font

We wanted our app to be very functional and maximize readability, so we used Inter, a sans-serif font that is very commonly used.

Colors

Because of the theme of our app, we wanted to create a galaxy theme. Our colors are a light pink, light purple, teal, and a dark-mode background.

Onboarding

The Onboarding of the app introduces and eases the user into the app, leading to a smoother and less confusing experience. With a short introduction to the app, users are able to see the steps summarized before beginning.

Notifications/Messaging

From Mid-Fi, we replaced the messaging tab with a notifications tab and moved messaging to a button in the home page. This way, the messaging is easier for the user to access and the app is also able to offer encouragement to use other features offered through notifications.

Make a Trip

The trip section is the main functioning part of the app. It summarizes the trip, making official information accessible for all parties. From Mid-Fidelity, we made “Trip Summary” farthest right to make the finalized itinerary more intuitive.

Profile

We downsized from 3 to 2 tabs to highlight the most important information and reduce clutter: personal itineraries and saved itineraries. Future trips are displayed in the home page instead. Additionally, itineraries can be displayed publicly or privately to others.

Discover

For the discover page, we clarified the difference between filters and categories. Filters are displayed in the search bar when applied, while categories are displayed in large headings. This serves for a less confusing navigation experience.

Reflection

Presentation Day

We presented PlanIT on presentation day.

Vida Escandar was our judge and some of her feedback include:

  • great presentation skills by having consistent energy and engaging the audience
  • could showcase a competitive analysis
  • experiment with different brand colors more
  • nice addition of gathering attendee availability as other travel apps don’t have that feature

Challenges

It was difficult building an app for such a broad prompt and finding so many pain points and possible features while building it. Another issue we came upon was communication. All of us had such different schedules so meetings were very valuable and much of the work had to be done asynchronously, so it was difficult at times to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Next Steps

  1. Conduct additional research on branding and ideate potential design systems that would more effectively communicate our product vision to the audience.
  2. Conduct additional user testing sessions to identify potential frictions in the current design and iterate based on the feedback.

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