Mobile Application for an Adventure Travel Company

PROJECT SUMMARY

Problem

Most adventure travellers use some form of technology before, during or after their travels however existing travel companies do not supply the functionality to aid in their choices and behaviours and hence risk losing both new clientele and enabling existing customers to continue their loyalty.

Approach

To gather data and research from both general adventure travellers and subject matter experts (SMEs) to validate whether our hypothesis was correct. We applied this to boutique travel company World Expeditions to confirm whether a native app or mobile site was needed, and hence a prototype would be created.

Solution

The recommended solution was a native app that allows adventure travellers to record and organise their bucket-list, personalise settings to suit their travel tastes and to document their daily activities to send or save. This function would allow the traveller to create stories with imagery and text and then either save to a journal, post to social media or send via email. If in remote regions without connection the stories would be queued to be sent when connectivity was available.

DISCOVER

Methods Used: Competitor Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Surveys, User Interviews

Business Insights

World Expeditions was established in 1975 as Australian Himalayan Expeditions and changed it’s name after significant growth into other countries and across 27 array of activities.

  • Offers small, boutique group adventures to like-minded travellers
  • Very strong ethic and committed to responsible travel
  • Adventures a little more expensive than the average
  • Mainly rely on loyal customers and word of mouth to obtain business

The current website for World Expeditions is at least 10 years old and has a number of issues which include:

  • Not responsive across devices
  • Region Map created in Flash that doesn’t work on mobile devices
  • The home page has 187 links. This doesn’t include those in drop down menus or behind tabs
  • Easy to get lost – learnability difficult
  • Missing information upfront or information not to linked to appropriate places (e.g.. pricing or expert guides)
  • Blog hidden in social media and linked to a separate website
  • Itinerary hidden in trip notes which need to be downloaded and saved to desktop before viewing.
  • A lot of bold text – all are links

 

Surveys and interviews were undertaken to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. This made it possible to collate two different types of information in a relatively short amount of time. We interviewed 12 adventure travellers between the ages of 22 and 60. Five of which were Subject Matter Experts, 1 of which worked in a travel adventure store, 1 whom was an active mountaineer, 1 who worked in a mountaineering equipment store and 1 who worked in a trekking equipment store.

DEFINE

Methods used:  Affinity Mapping, Insight Statements, Empathy Mapping, Personas, Userflows

 

World Expeditions has a large loyal customer base and mostly attracts their business through referrals. From this information, and without having a full brief, we created a hypothesis to base our research on:

“Adventure enthusiasts have no way of curating, recording or communicating their adventures and no way of organising & documenting their future activities of interest.”

By using Affinity Mapping we were able to observe connections between the data and therefore group them into Themes. From here we created Insights into the delights and pain points of the users. What we found from our research:

 

INSIGHTS

The following insights are those that we prioritised for this project:

  • Adventure travellers like to keep a bucket list however have their own way of organising it.
  • Adventure travellers require a variety of information from the company to build trust. However not all websites are informative.
  • Adventure travellers like doing diverse activities however they all vary between personal preference.
  • Adventure travellers enjoy sharing their experiences after and while travelling however may not always remember or have a connection.
  • The majority of adventure travellers use devices when travelling because they need quick access to information and to keep in touch with family. However they don’t always have access to reception.

EMPATHY MAP, PERSONAS & USERFLOWS

Each team member created a persona after putting together an empathy map. My individual persona was Rod. He was a newcomer to adventure travel, however was a keen cycler who wanted to cycle the world and also wanted to travel with his family. I also focussed on his userflow which was to create a Wishlist function so that he could save all the trips he was interested in doing so he could come back at a later time.

IDEATE

Methods Used: Opportunities – How Might We Statements, MoSCoW Methodology

Through our survey results, observations, themes and insights we were able to validate our original hypothesis and create a solution statement for our problem:

“Adventure enthusiasts need a way to record, arrange and communicate their future plans, personalise their preferences and communicate their experiences in a consolidated platform.”

From here we were able to create our Opportunities using How Might We (HMW) statements in order to find solutions to the users pain points:

HOW MIGHT WE:

  • cater to the difference between adventure travellers?
  • help adventure travellers share their experiences?
  • ensure adventure travellers stories are published if they don’t have access to a connection?
  • build trust between the adventure traveller and the company?
  • assist the adventure traveller to manage their bucket list?
  • provide adventure travellers with the information they need to feel confident?
  • create a solution in which information is easily available?

From our research we were also able to validate that we would need to design a native app over a mobile site due to personalisation features. After undertaking a MoSCOW breakdown we selected the ‘Must Have’s’ and focused on completing those for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The main features for the solution would be: 

  • The ability to create a bucketlist from ‘liked’ trips and be able to sort these according to preference 
  • A personalisation feature that allowed a user to ‘pre-programme’ the adventures, countries, etc. he/she was interested in and only have those showing every time they returned to the platform.
  • A storytelling feature that would have each day’s itinerary attached along with the ability to type text, add quotes, photos and videos. This would act like a journal and could also be sent by email or attached to social media. If the traveller was in a remote region without internet connection the ‘story’ would be queued to send automatically when they were connected or they could set a time and queue the item.

Other information we included was all the information the travellers needed to feel confident choosing their adventure or expedition. The top level needed items like price, duration, difficulty level and activities, while the full trip view needed to be much more in-depth with accommodation, itinerary, dates, equipment and inclusions.

BUILD

Methods Used: Rapid Sketching, Wireframes, Interactive Prototype

After determining the priority features we undertook several sessions of rapid sketching to create the three wireframes. Each feature involved navigational items, information architecture, page flow and general content layout. We designed:

  • Landing page
  • First search page
  • Region menu
  • Country menu
  • Adventure travel tours overview
  • Full country overview
  • Wishlist and Wishlist Sorting function
  • Personalisation menus with toggle functions
  • Storytelling page with ‘place’ options
  • Storytelling template
  • Sending options
  • Queue list

VALIDATE

Methods Used: Usability Testing

Through a series of usability tests we found that we had a number of issues that we needed to address and to which we found solutions:

EVOLVE

Methods Used: Iterating – repeat stages until high fidelity prototype

 

THE CONCEPT SOLUTION

 

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Business 

The application allowed the customer to become more immersed in the business offerings. Trip information, blog stories, recommended trips, events and reviews allowed for a holistic experience where users could personalise what interested them and add them to a bucketlist. This would ensure they would come back to take more trips they had ‘liked’. The solution worked for both loyal/repeat customers and would also be applicable to new customers. The storytelling/journalling function allowed users to record their adventures for later presentation to family and friends while also allowing for email and social media. This would be useful in growing the business without having to undertake traditional marketing and also build on the company’s business model of referrals over traditional marketing.

User

Allows users to organise and save their bucketlist while also ‘ticking’off activities they have completed Gives users the ability to document their trip with photos, itinerary, videos and text as a journal/diary for retrieval in the future – much like a diary of photo album. Allows users to keep in touch with family and friends to update them on what they are doing, where they are and if they are safe. Enables users to order their preferences so that they don’t have to continually select filters every time the return to the app, whilst also feeding relevant and potential adventures and expeditions to them.

Key Learnings

Don’t ever assume anything. I was fairly set in the idea that we wouldn’t need an app for our hypothesis, however research pointed in the direction that we did. I was overjoyed with the fact I had been proven wrong! Due to time constraints we weren’t able to test the higher fidelity model. In hindsight we could have possibly organised users to be ready to do this as we most have the flow had already been confirmed as intuitive and we wouldn’t have had to change any of these screens.

Next Steps

Do more user testing Work with the client to address the ‘should haves’ Integrate e-commerce Create a new responsive website with integrated blog.

  • ROLE User Experience Designer and User Interface Designer. Part of a 3 person UX consultant team. From the prototyping stage the team worked on one component each (out of three). I was responsible for the Wishlist and user required content.
  • DURATION 2 weeks
  • METHODS Competitor Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Surveys, User Interviews, Affinity Mapping, Insights, HMW Statements, Empathy Mapping, Personas, MoSCoW, Rapid Sketching, Wireframe Prototyping, Guerilla Testing, High Fidelity Screens, Usability Testing | TOOLS Sketch, InVision, Photoshop, InDesign, Google Drive, Slack, Excel, Optimal Workshop
  • CLIENT GA Project (World Expeditions)