Whim, a collaborative travel app
What is Whim? Whim is a travel assistant app that solves some of travel's common problems - the ability to collaboratively plan a trip with a friend or even multiple friends. It's designed to make planning travel with friends easier by providing a platform to do so, and also helps provide valuable information on recommended things to do in a new travel location based on reviews.
Screener Survey, Heuristic Analysis, and Interviews
To begin the process, I needed to find potential users who would be willing to share feedback so that I could add, remove, or even enhance features to my app that made sense to my users.
I created a survey and 37 people responded. Out of the 37 people that responded, a large majority enjoyed travelling (~94.6%). A significant majority also stated that they preferred traveling with a friend (73%). Another interesting fact was that trips were normally planned by the traveler, and also by using several different travel websites for hotels, flights, restaurants, and things to do.
I also ran a heuristic analysis of some 'competitors' - Kayak.com, Lonely Planet, and Airbnb. The three heuristics I chose to compare were:
- Visibility of System Status
- Match between system and the real world
- User control and freedom
Out of the three competitors, Airbnb performed the best by doing a great job in keeping the user informed and letting them know quickly where they are in terms of site navigation. They also use common terminology for renting, experiences, and restaurants that are easy to understand, such as 'Can I pay with any currency' or 'I can't get in touch with my host'. Users are able to easily control their actions - for example, they can quickly 'undo' a reservation. For the full review, click here.
I then conducted one-on-one interviews with 5 of the survey takers who best matched my target user group, and came up with user personas using their responses.
Using the interview responses and the above research, I created an empathy map for "Social Sally" and "Shy Susie".
"Social Sally" enjoys traveling to meet friends and family. She is also outgoing and enjoys receiving local recommendations, even if sometimes the local recommendations were not that great! She has no issues with traveling alone.
"Shy Susie" enjoys traveling to see and experience new cultures. She is shy and likes to plan via going over review apps, such as FourSquare and Yelp. She definitely does not like to travel alone nor talk to strangers.
I then set up two User Personas for 'Social Sally' and 'Shy Susie' explaining their goals, frustrations, personality, and travel influences for easy reference.
Site Map and User Flow
With the empathy maps created and the user personas defined, I drew out a site map for Whim while also defining a MVP and high priority user flows based on my user personas and empathy map.
With the predefined MVP's and a draft site map, I drew out my user flow (using draw.io).
Wireframes and User Testing
Now that a user flow was determined, low-fidelity wireframes were created for user testing on the app's user flow. Using a low-fidelity wireframe allowed the testers to focus on the core user experience.
I interviewed 4 participants and used a test plan and script to gain insight into what the testers actually thought when it came to my user flow.
Some key takeaways I learned from User Testing was that flows that I thought would be easily understood, didn’t quite make sense to my participants. In future User Testing sessions, I learnt that I should not assume something was the absolute right way to product design.
For other areas of my app, I learned that it is not possible to make everything as easily understood and easily picked up. Most likely for all apps, there is some learning curve to using an app.
Another thing I learned was that every person has a different opinion about workflows. It’s important to jot down everything that is said, and then take a decision that is backed by the majority opinions of users. Or in the real world, it might be a decision made from a business perspective. Since I was only able to test 4 users, certain decisions were backed by the majority.
While going through the research evaluation with the participants, it often felt like we were both working on a project together - and they were often more than happy to keep providing guided suggestions. I think when a user is actually paying for a product and they thoroughly enjoy using it, they would be more than happy to go through a similar exercise to improve the product or for new features.
After receiving great feedback from my participants, I applied my findings into a high-fidelity prototype in Sketch and Invision App.
The final interactive prototype is below!