To understand the problems travellers confront during the planning process, we interviewed 12 avid travellers. In addition, we got a sense of what travel planning entailed on a broad scale.
We summarized the findings from our interviews to an affinity map which helped us in gauging and prioritizing problems faced by all travellers alike.
Based on our research we understood that travellers could be organized into three categories based on their level of engagement with the planning exercise.
It was evident that some of the major issues during the planning process included - difficulty in gaining consensus on issues, hardships in collating resources/ideas in a central location and the lack of an itinerary maintenance tool. So, the system had to directly address these issues in lieu of being an effective and efficient tool.
We used sketching as a means to translate our findings from the research to the design phase. We used sketching as a means to flush out ideas and the following are a few sketches which I converted into digital form.
We generated web based click through prototypes using Axure. The following are a few screens which indicate the primary system features. These features were meant to address our findings in the user-research phase.
The onboarding process allowed social login. This is keeping in mind the social and informal nature of the application. In addition, the process guides you through an individual sequence of steps. This reduces the cognitive load on the end user. In addition, the sequence follows the cognitive model of the user - in terms of the actual planning (Destination, Dates and Friends in the same order).
The landing page for the web application. This page uses known social interaction patterns namely - Notifications, Activity Feeds and Chats. These patterns allow for social engagement from within the interface. Notifications give a user details on the actions needed from their end in the application. Activity Feed provide information about the rest of the members in the group. Chat (public and private) allows for instant messaging and consequently can lead to instant action. It is a vital follow up tool.
Our research indicated that one of the most common tools used for planning was Google Docs. The purposes of using the documents were varied but it was evident that spreadsheets and documents helped organize ideas and plans in general. We wanted to offer an in-app experience in lieu of creating a single repository and help the end users save time.(lost in navigating between applications)
One of the most important findings of our research was that a lot of time if often lost because people fail to reach a consensus on issues. This is a time taking endeavor which we wanted to tackle in our designs. We created a polls section, which allowed end users to create polls and include members on them. In addition, to accomodate the 'slackers' we provided a poke feature to promote engagement.
The application allows for the creation and maintenance of an itinerary which can be shared amongst all/select members. Also, this was a direct consequence of our research where participants indicated the lack of presence of an ideal itinerary maintenance tool. (almost all participants used Google documents)