This was a self-initiated project both for fun and practice. Together is this trip planning app that eases trip planning process by centralizing information and facilitating communication.
I teamed up with Shawn Cai to conduct user research and testing. And I independently completed interaction design, visual design, and prototyping, within 2 weeks,
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
It's about researching the places you are about to visit, figuring out the best schedule and route, communicating with your friends about the itinerary, comparing different options and finding out the one that works for all, remembering things that you need to pay attention to when traveling...
What you do when you plan a trip with friends?
PLAY WITH IT
Click through prototype
Discover popular destinations and travel guides, get inspired by other users’ wonderful journeys. Or search your own destinations, find out useful travel guides and places you should not miss.
Create your own trip by simply adding your destinations, start date and end date. Invite your fellow travellers and you can start planning your trip together!
Plan your trip by refering to travel guides posted by other users. Copy the whole itinerary if it perfectly matches your expectations. Or dig into details of various places, finding out the best ones and add them to your itinerary.
Want to make changes to your itinerary? Sure! Drag a place card to a different time, or add places, hotels, memos… Plan your trip wisely based on the geographic distance, and the anticipated weather.
Share awesome travel guides and places that you found with your fellow travellers, communicate your ideas and plan a perfect trip together. All of you can view the up-to-date itinerary, and travel with peace of mind, together.
BEHIND THE SCREENS
Why Together? How I got there?
More centralized information and smooth communication are needed.
I initiated the project because I have been always struggling with planning trips with my friends. The planning process involves a lot of researches, discussions, and information all over the places. So I started to think whether there are better ways to do it? What is the usual workflow of others planning a trip? Semi-structured interviews were conducted among 10 people aged from 22 to 27, who had the experience of planning trips with a group of people. Questions asked included:
How do you usually plan your trip with a group of people? What's your work distribution like?
What are the tools you use for planning?
What kind of information do you want to gather when planning?
What are some of you struggles in the process?
Can you give me a memorable story related to trip planning?
Findings from user interviews were externalized and clustered the with affinity diagrams.
TOOLS / RESOURCES
1. Decide which citys to go, how many days to stay
2. Order flights, hotels
3. Research on places worth visiting in each cities, decide places they want to visit, and decide the order based on distance, hours needed, weather, common interests, etc
4. Have the itinerary outlined and show to the group
5. Further tweaking based on group’s opinions
1. friend recommendation, online recommendation
2. Priceline.com, airbnb, booking.com
3. TripAdvisor, various travel forums, chat groups, Google maps, official sites of places, travel agencies, friends who have traveled there before
4. Chat group, sometimes pens and paper
5. Chat group, sometimes pens and paper
Usually there will be 1-2 primary planners, others provide opinions and suggestions.
1. Usually cities they have always want to visit, also depends on time and budgets
2. Budgets, location of hotels
3. Reviews, location, weather, hours needed, open hours, activities they can do, sometimes price of the tickets
4. Places in time order
5. Group opinions, also further information mentioned in 3
Information all over the places: It is hard to gather "complete" information for planning because they are all over the places, such as open hours, distance, tips, wheather, etc. And the experience of trave will be affected because of insufficient planning.
Switching between tools: There are lots of switching between tools, such as sending a url of travel guides to a group chat, mark places locations on Google Map.
No efficient itinerary visualization: There is no efficient tools to visualize a proposed itinerary, which make it hard to communicate within group. Also there will be repetitive research during the trip because the planner only remembers the itinerary in his own mind.
Inefficient communication & low engagement: It is hard for other members who did not do research to actually have opinions on the itinerary, which makes it hard to have an itinerary that suits the needs of everyone. Their insufficient knowledge lead to huge reliance on the primary planner during the trip.
Positioning, constraining, and learning.
I conducted competitive analysis on current trip planning apps to compare and evaluate features, performance, strategies, thus to have a clear view about features of our product and how they should work together, as well as to reach a better understanding of the product positioning. We wanted our product to be able to cover the whole process from exploration to itinerary visualization. We also didn't want it to become redundant with overwhelming information. Here is how we did the addition and substraction.
Our main focus will be exploring travel guides and places details. Because these are the major information that people need to complete a trip planning.
We are not focusing on exploring hotels, and flights, resteraunts, transportations at this stage. Why? Because hotels and flights are the top priority of trip planning and people usually already have them done before planning details of itinerary. Resteraunts and transportations are more likely to be information needed during a trip. We decided to stay really focused on the planning. And we enabled users add hotels, flights, resteraunts information on their own, and provided entrance of navigation, instead of competing with products like booking.com, Yelp, Google Maps, etc.
"Start with great templates, creating and sharing your own itinerary with your friends together."
The most important value we want to provide our users are content and communication. How can we constantly bring valuable content and smooth communcation to them? The answer is sharing. Sharing is the most poweful act in the era of mobile internet. Sharing brings communication, knowledge, and experience. By enabling travelers to record and post their itinerary, other travelers can take advantage of their experience, even use their itineraries as templates for quick planning. By enabling planners to share information and itinerary with their friends, the planning can be more transparent and efficient.
Mapping out essential features and contents
WIREFRAME & ITERATION
Low-fidelity prototype iteration throughout user testings.
I began wireframing with a lot of sketches. I did several iterations by self-evaluation, pretending myself as a potential user and walk through the process. I later converted the sketches to digital versions and linked them in Pop to create a clickable prototype. We tested the low-fidelity prototype with classmates and friends who had trip planning experience. And here is what I learnt most:
Users want to be able to add their hotel information, so that they can know how far is it to go somewhere
Map view is important for users to estimate distance and time.
Smart suggestions based on users search history or places selected can save users' time.
Subjective reviews/ tags about places can help users make decisions.