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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. With TourBuddies, your next adventure is a tap away.

  • 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, creating a rich tapestry of your explorations to reminisce and share.

Problem Statement

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

 

Users don't feel engaged by app-based tours because none facilitate group exploration.

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.

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.

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 tourguide system market, as well as people's motivations and experiences with both in-person, app-based,  and self-guided walking tours.

 

My research consisted of the following:

 

Market research, competitive analysis, 5 semi-structured research interviews, and 2 surveys targeting different age groups. 

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.

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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
01_

The virtual tour  market is experiencing explosive growth.

By 2030, the virtual tour market is expected to grow to 6.5 billion by 2030, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31%.

For comparison CAGR for industries such as construction, education, and healthcare range from 3-8% annually. The virtual tour market even surpasses the 25% CAGR of financial technology.

02_

The market for in-person tours is growing at a much slower rate than virtual tours.

The projected CAGR over the next decade for the tourguide system market, which includes both physical and virtual tours, is 3%.

The growing popularity of virtual tours indicates TourBuddies would be wise to focus on both a Phase 2 virtual tour component and Phase 1 emphasis on users wanting to explore remotely, regardless if they plan to see the sites in person.

03_

User interactions and messaging boost retention and prospects for sustained growth.

In-app messages have been found to be the most effective channel for user engagement, with an interaction rate of 39.88%

Building the TourBuddies Community in Phase 1 ensures user retention and engagement and in-turn long term sustainable growth.

Market Research Takeaways
02_Define & Prioritize

To synthesize my research I developed the following:

 

User personas, Point of View statements & How Might We questions, Project Goals, and a Feature Roadmap.

03_Build & Iterate
04_Test & Refine

My design process was particularly non-linear between these stages. One consistent element was the task flows I defined and user tested.

Project Goals

Using a Venn diagram, I honed in on the core aspects of my research to craft a clear strategy for TourBuddies, outlining my business goals, user goals, and technical considerations.

My research revealed a viable path to funding through data analysis, which led to the strategic decision to make the app available across multiple U.S. cities, rather than confining it to a single region. This broader scope is intended to gather a richer dataset on user preferences. Recognizing the extensive list of features I had planned for Phase 1, I decided to defer the actual guided tour functionality to Phase 2. Initially, TourBuddies will focus on collecting data about what users enjoy most, which will inform how I invest in content and assemble a team to develop curated walking and virtual tours.

Wireframes

I created wireframes for taskflows pertaining to Onboarding, exploring via the map view, and the TourBuddies Finder, where users find others to join them.

After considering the use cases for TourBuddies, including those exploring on-the-go, those indexing sites they've explored or plan to explore, as well as the future Phase 2 plans for guided tours, I decided a horizontal carousel was superior to a vertical scroll pattern for the following reasons:

  • Focused Exploration: A horizontal carousel limits content visibility, but this also means the content is explored a more focused frame-by-frame manner. This also adds a sense of distinction to the user experience of the "explore" section.

  • Search Filters Engagement: As the exploration via a carousel is more focused, this also makes the change in results more apparent as users adjust filters.

  • Navigation with Future Phase 2 Guided Tours: As users navigate between stops a carousel enables a more focused approach that's ideal for users on-the-go as well as for exploring the immersive tour content.

UI & Branding

Inspired by the brand values "Explore, Enlighten, and Gather," I designed a UI kit to serve as a foundational design system, emphasizing minimal color use to ensure images capture the user's attention and to support on-the-go usability. This consideration is crucial for an app that, while currently focusing on exploration, will evolve to offer guided tours in its next phase. A distinct purple, a color connoting empowerment, sets the "Community" section apart from the blue "Explore" areas, which emphasize safety and trust. The choice of serif fonts for headers imbues a sense of exploration and historical depth.

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5/5 wanted to see a color distinction for friends' bookmarks vs their own.
02_

4/5 felt the TourBuddies finder CTA was too subtle and needed more color contrast.
03_

4/5 wanted a more clear orientation within the onboarding as to what the product provides.
User Testing Takeaways

I used an affinity map to refine feedback for guiding my design iterations. Although users met the established task completion times, their feedback highlighted a need for better product orientation and a more cohesive experience. This led me to overhaul the visual design and branding, which I tested with both the original interviewees and three new user testers.

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Iterations

'Explore'

Stay tuned for more!

In the meantime follow me on LinkedIn.

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'TourBuddies Finder'

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