Product Design Challenge

Creating Sustainable Travel Experiences

Aug 2020

Key Skills

User Research, UX/UI Design, Prototyping, User Testing

Responsibilities

Design the major user flow and information architecture. User testing to validate our design decisions.

Team

Khadija Bari
Kuntal Surwade
Me

Overview

Although COVID-19 stopped most of us from traveling, for those, who are safe to explore new places, which method to choose has always been a tough question. People tend to drive around instead of choosing more healthy and sustainable ways to explore a new city. My entire team all has experienced similar decision-makings on tradeoffs of comfort versus sustainability. All of us wanted to tackle this problem by design thinking and create less frustrating experiences in this world.

Problem

How might we encourage tourists to explore cities through more walking? For tourists going to a new city, walking around is not their top choice for exploring a place for the following reasons:

1. No explicit incentives to walk instead of driving
Tourists visiting a city for the first time are facing overwhelming information. How can I find my hotel? What is the easiest way to move from one attraction to another? Driving is more comfortable and time-efficient in most cases, which provides the first challenge for our team. How can we prompt our users to give up comfort and choose walking instead?

2. Addressing costs and concerns from users
Walking in certain cities can be both fun and challenging. People interested in exploring a city can be scared of choosing to walk because of stamina's mere distance and concerns. How can we create a walking experience comfortable for first-timers to enjoy?

Solution

We designed radius-select, a new feature in Google Maps based on Google's personalized recommendation system to suggest users different walking route recommendations. It helps users to plan a possible walking route beforehand and shows the health benefits they gain through walking.

Research

The Walking Adventure

To better understand tourists' needs when traveling and their motivations to walk more, I created a set of interview questions and conducted interviews with my team. As a group, we chose affinity mapping to brainstorm solutions based on the findings.

Our findings include:
1. Travelers with budget concerns tend to walk more and choose walking as their primary navigation method.

2. When exploring, tourists like to walk when they know the weather is nice, the area is safe, and they can discover exciting sceneries along the way.

3. People don't associate their choices to walk with sustainability concerns. But it serves as a motivating factor.

Our research revealed two types of main users:

Tourists choose walking because of budget concerns and also looking to enjoy the scenery at the same time.

Travel enthusiasts who are looking to learning the most about their destinations. They are looking for spots not crowded with tourists and love to mingle with natives.

Base on our findings, we aim to create a tool that focuses on tourists needs, to help them better discover a new city and be more sustainable.

Goals

Incentivize users to walk more
Introduce unique attractions along their explorations

Ideation

Uncovering opportunities

Making no further assumptions on our own, each member brainstormed several solutions, and we went through these together to determine which one to pursue.

1. Build a radius filter for users to pick the distance they are willing to walk.

2. Recommendation filter that automatically sorts locations to visit by distance.

We compiled and picked our final idea using a prioritization matrix. It was evident that creating a radius filter allowed maximum efficiency in development and scaling the business.

Design Decisions

Route to sustainable travel

I sketched out the main user flow for the radius filter. Each team member created our own version of route selection sketches to add together.

Explore with ease

Users can adjust the walking radius based on the desired walking time or distance. The user can see selected routes beneath the radius.

Different routes will appear based on users’ preferences and according to the walking radius and the user’s destination. Locations are included in each route depending on the user’s choice, reviews from other users, and advertisements.

Route selection with comfort

Users can select attractions in the previously indicated radius and add to their custom routes. It’s similar to the saved-lists functionality in terms of adding specific locations. This function also forms a curated walking route with optimized walking distances and sightseeing options along the route.

Plan and customize

Users have a route overview that allows customization before they set on this travel plan. There is a reminder for walking hours and distances on the top left that helps users pick routes suitable for their physical stamina.

Besides system-generated routes, users have the freedom to create lists of their favorite routes in the Saved tab. Best walking distance and attractions will show up on each list as well.

Visual Guidelines

We chose Poppins as the primary font as it adds some playfulness that fits the topic of traveling. Blue is a calming color that encourages the user to focus more on the walking process.

Result

What we achieved

All users liked the exploration part and how they can pick their routes.

One user was confused about the radius function. She was not sure about when to adjust it and why they should use this feature. Her confusion suggested an issue with our visual representation and information architecture, which became our primary focus to refine.

Takeaways

What I've learned

Taking in user feedback early on
I chose to introduce users to test our prototype in the low-fidelity stage as we couldn’t decide which direction to go with our ideas. Testing feedback was the most straightforward guidelines and useful.

Iterate fast and never afraid of failing
During the process, one thing that restricted me was adhered too much to the existing designs and not thinking outside the box. Sketching on paper and methods like Crazy 8s helps break the tie and bring me into thinking mode.

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