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Team

Solo (Speculative Project)

Timeframe

80 hours

Role

User Research, Content Strategy, UX Design

Tools

Figma, FigJam, Photoshop, OpenStreetMap, Maputnik

Your Gateway toImmersive Explorations

Discover, document, and share the wonders around you with TourBuddies – the mobile app that redefines your journey through history and the world.

  • Bookmark & Explore: Pinpoint must-see sites and craft your personal tour wishlist.

  • Connect & Uncover: Immerse yourself in the TourBuddies community, where exploration is a shared adventure. Unearth landmarks and hidden gems, recommended by a network of enthusiasts, and find companions ready to join you on your journey.

  • Chronicle & Relive: Seamlessly record your footprints across cities and landscapes.

Background

Since the advent of the global Covid-19 pandemic, mobile apps offering self-guided walking tours have gained in popularity and have seen no signs of waning as restrictions have eased. Walking tours are a great way for individuals to explore history in real time and space, where history becomes a dynamic field that’s continually shaping one’s present surroundings. 

My research will show users strongly prefer in-person guided tours, even if they continue to seek out app-based walking tours for reasons ranging from cost, the flexibility of starting and stopping as one pleases, and not having to rely on reservations to participate in a tour. 

Problem Statement

People find existing walking tour apps lack engagement and struggle with user-friendliness, despite the increased demand for flexible, self-paced tours.

 

Existing app-based tours are failing to engage people because none facilitate group exploration.

Solution: Explore, Enlighten, Gather

To redefine the walking tour experience, TourBuddies will initially launch as a user-centric app focused on bookmarking sites and connecting explorers. Its intuitive design simplifies the discovery of sites and enhances real-world exploration, inviting users to join tours with like-minded adventurers.

The Pivot

My research shows people desire group exploration, but are also reluctant to meet with strangers.

For this reason Phase 1 focuses on bookmarking and sharing sites with a secondary focus on finding TourBuddies to join you. Pushing the guided tours feature to Phase 2 builds a solid foundation for the TourBuddies Community, which in turn helps guide the development of app-based tours.

TourBuddies Explore Page_Chronicle & Relive

TourBuddies defaults to sites closest to you.

Filter by site theme, select a city, explore sites to bookmark via a horizontal carousel.

To keep users safe who may be on the go the app uses colors sparingly making each task feel lightweight and intuitive. Blue is a primary brand color since it is often associated with trust and communication.

TourBuddies_Bookmark & Explore

Craft your personal tour wishlist or index sites from your explorations.

Sort by theme and switch view to see others' bookmarks.

TourBuddies uses color sparingly so that the user's focus is on the images of sites to explore.

TourBuddies Community_Connect & Uncover

Find friends to follow via your contacts, facebook, and TourBuddies suggestions.

Discover the TourBuddies Finder to join others traveling to similar sites or create a listing of your plans for others to find you.

The "TourBuddies Community" uses purple as it's a color that connotes empowerment and stimulation.  

TourBuddies Map View

With the map view you can view your bookmark, find sites to explore, chronicle, or relive, while also easily toggling to your friends' bookmarks.

Navigation between the central "Explore" section of the app to your bookmarks, map view, and the TourBuddies Community is seamless and light-weight to ensure the app easily transitions to the Phase 2 guided & virtual tours feature.

TourBuddies Finder

Explore the TourBuddies Community: browse people with similar plans so you can explore together via the TourBuddies Finder!

Select a city, input your dates, and make your travel plans public so others can easily find you. Send and receive messages with others in the TourBuddies Community.

01_Research & Discover

My Background

02_Define & Prioritize
03_Build & Iterate
04_Test & Refine

My Design Process

While my process is by no means linear I developed 4 stages for my design process drawing heavily on the design thinking framework.

 

Stages 3 and 4 will show a lot of back and forth between testing, incorporating feedback and iterating on the design and branding.

01_Research

I started by researching the tour guide system market, as well as people's motivations and experiences with in-person, app-based, and self-guided walking tours. This research included 6 semi-structured interviews and 2 surveys targeting different age groups. I also conducted a competitive analysis of walking tour apps, including Travel Storys, Autio, and Shaka Guide.

 

My market and user research were particularly useful in identifying a product-market fit for TourBuddies.

01_

People strongly prefer in-person guides, yet they also love the flexibility of self-guided tours.

90% of the 20 survey participants felt more engaged by tours with an in-person guide, and 83% of interview participants preferred tours with an in-person guide. Yet 92% of those surveyed also noted they enjoy the flexibility of self-guided tours.

02_

People desire group exploration, most are open to meeting strangers, but most also have reservations.

83% are open to meeting strangers to join them on their tours. Yet 80% of those open to this also noted strong reservations.

03_

A digital record of sites to see or already seen is strongly desired.

95% want a digital index of sites to see and 67% of interview participants would enjoy having a digital record of sites they see and

User Research Takeaways

I spoke with 6 participants, 5 women, and one man, ranging in age from 26-79, all of whom had some experience with guided tours. 5/6 were aged 26-44 and were either working or pursuing professional education while between jobs, and one woman was aged 79 and retired. 5/6 had experience with multiple types of tours. My interviews focused on their experiences with different kinds of tours with the goal of discovering what opportunities and weaknesses exist with tours without an in-person guide. I organized my interview findings using an affinity map to identify common themes that emerged.