Helping students discover and build personalized itineraries
Traveling to a new city is stressful. So many factors such as age, travel reasons, and money impact what people want from their travel experience.
Awarded: Most Customer-Centric UX
Meet the Team
Here is an overview of what we accomplished over six weeks.
How might we help travelers better discover and experience the locations they travel to using an app?
We conducted a survey of 80 college students to dig deeper into the problem space and learn more about people’s past experiences planning for trips and finding places. We found several key takeaways:
- Respondents’ main concern when traveling is budgeting
- Most respondents had made itineraries before for trips and valued the activity or type of attraction most when finding destinations
- Instagram, Yelp, and TikTok are the most commonly used apps to find destinations
We interviewed eight participants, where we were able to gain a more in-depth understanding of our potential users’ needs and desires. In our synthesis of these interviews, we further emphasized ideas supported by our survey results. Those results suggested that students appreciated seeing pricing, reviews, and transportation options.
- Distance dictates the amount of planning before a trip — the farther away the location, the more time spent planning beforehand
- Decisions about where to go are based on other people — for solo trips, people go on apps to see first-hand experiences, and for group trips, consensus drives the decision on what to do or where to eat
In order to explore initial ideas and to organize our research findings, we began with affinity mapping to categorize key insights that we wanted to explore further in our low-fidelity sketching phase. In doing so, we decided to focus on the issues of helping to discover new activities, identifying price ranges and budgeting, and allowing shareability.
We explored possible designs, while referring to participants’ preferences from the research phase. We emphasized the important insights acquired from our survey and interviews. In doing so, the main features we decided to explore further in our wireframes were providing a social aspect via a collaborative user explore page, a budget filter tool, collaborative itineraries, and a map tool that would recommend routes for the trip.
We established our user flow by first designating creating itineraries as the primary feature of our app. Our supporting features would be our discover page and our map tool. We assigned the home page to be the discover page, giving users a push to find new activities to add to preexisting itineraries or to add to new ones. The creating itineraries feature would allow users to manage their itinerary collections. The map tool would allow users to preview their trip and find potential routes.
Salient characteristics of our app that we wanted to pursue were adjustable budget tools, discoverable itineraries, a route assisting map tool, and collaborative itineraries.
We formed a problem statement to guide us through initial designs.
How might we support budgeting as students plan to travel to a new city?
We finalized the user flow, breaking the features into two major sections: before the trip and during the trip. We thought it would be easier for the user to navigate separate flows rather than combining it all under one user flow.
Before the trip:
- Creating an itinerary
- Creating a budget
- Discovering activities and adding them to the itinerary
During the trip:
- Using the map to find optimized routes and visualize proximity of activities
- Splitting payments
We conducted usability testing with 8 participants with our mid-fi prototype, hoping to test ease of navigation and understanding of features. Participants completed tasks for both the before-trip and during-trip flows.
We discovered 3 main pain points:
- Icons were not easily recognizable — Most participants were confused about the icons that we used to represent actions such as discovering places and viewing created itineraries. To remove ambiguity about the icons’ meanings, we added labels for each icon in our tab bar and used intuitive icons such as a magnifying glass for searching and discovering places.
- Feature overlap with other apps — Participants did not see themselves using certain features in our app because they overlapped with popular, already-used apps. For example, our splitting payments feature was compared to Venmo and we received feedback that this feature wasn’t likely to be used because a well-known alternative exists.
- Confusion with app’s focus — Participants were unsure of our app’s focus because we had a lot of features. After reviewing our findings such as the feature overlap that we discovered, we decided to move forward with the itinerary as the core focus of our app. In response to feedback we cut the budget and recommended route feature, because we learned that many already rely on existing apps for these functions and believed that focusing on the travel aspect of itineraries would give users a better understanding of our app’s purpose.
We chose a bright and vibrant color palette to convey the adventurous feeling of traveling, and selected DM Sans as our font for its modern feel. For components like our buttons and cards, we used rounded corners to further create the sense of friendliness and approachability.
Guided Onboarding Experience
Gain a broad overview of how the app works at your own pace, and stay organized and customize your itinerary by setting the duration of your trip, budget, and collaborators
Discover and Save
Search through already made itineraries and easily add places you like to yours with the help of filters and reviews. Save places and activities to your collection and sort within your profile.
Edit and Personalize Trip
View your trip at a glance, edit by days, and add collaborators. With the in-app map, rearrange places for the optimal route, and export trip to desired map platform.
Organize During and After Trip
Check the places you completed, comment and add details, and refresh onto the next day
During this project we encountered several obstacles and learned some key takeaways:
- Adapt and make hard implementations from our user feedback, such as revamping our goal
- Focus on the larger picture — making the hard decision to change our platform to create a sustainable, long-lasting product that empathizes with people
In the future, we hope to conduct more research and understand best practices for implementing certain features:
- Explore scheduling for college students and how to help them plan each day of their trip
- Explore how to cater our platform to different types of students
- Increase accountability in adding reviews, itineraries, and places