Since this was an innovative product, I did secondary research in order to find direct(ish) and indirect competitors. The space travel industry proved to be a relevant point of comparison when it came to direct competitors, and travel booking sites like Airbnb and Expedia served as indirect competitors.
In terms of primary research, I conducted one-on-one user interviews over Zoom, focusing on user participants had the following characteristics: female, ages 29-33, travel at least twice per year, have used online travel booking sites. I asked questions surrounding their overall travel experiences and expectations as well as their method of deciding on and booking travel.
- People probably want to utilize available time travel technology. N/A: this topic did not arise in the interviews.
- People probably want to have a pleasant experience when traveling. Validated: all users desired enjoyable experiences.
- People probably have some experiential goals in mind when they book trips. Validated:all users expressed a set of specific goals.
- People probably want to book their trips through websites offering travel services. Validated: all users booked their trips online.
- People probably want to minimize friction when booking on travel websites. N/A: not enough users mentioned friction on booking sites.
Challenges: Since this technology doesn't exist, I couldn't gain any direct insight in this area. I also didn’t gain a lot of insight about specific pain point surrounding participants' use of existing travel sites.
- Kylie needs to be able to explore destinations on foot because this allows her to better get to know the new area.
- Kylie needs to be able to explore new environments when she travels because this allows her to learn more about the world.
- Kylie needs her transportation to operate smoothly because interruptions can ruin her travel experience.
Based on insights I gained from primary and secondary research, I developed a persona.
Card Sorting, Site Map, and Flows
I created a feature roadmap focusing on what I would need for the MVP. My card sorting activity helped me understand that users tend to categorize trips by era and/or theme, which became helpful later when thinking about my search functionality and page hierarchy.
I worked on user flows to understand the paths of A. someone who stumbles upon Zeit for the first time and B. someone who has received a recommendation.
Once I had a better understanding of task and user flows as well as hierarchy, I sketched out the three major pages crucial to the search and favoriting phases. I then turned them into lo-fidelity wireframes.
When I moved into the branding phase, I focused on the following words to dictate identity: modern, contemporary, electric, and streamlined.
Challenges : Through my branding process, it was a challenge to keep the brand contemporary yet classic-balancing those two extremes.
Responsive UI Pages
After creating a prototype, I conducted usability testing with five participants in my key demographic in order to understand if there was any friction in the search process, understand if all labelling was clear and effective, and understand if there is any friction in the “favoriting”trip process.
- 5/5 of participants completed the task.
- 5/5 of participants utilized filters on the initial results page.
- 5/5 of participants reported that the task was relatively easy.
- 4/5 participants encountered issues of low severity when utilizing the search bar.
- 4/5 participants tried to utilize the “location” search functionality in addition to the “activities” functionality on the search bar.
- The time to complete the task ranged from 0:45 to 1:50.
There were consistent low-severity issues surrounding the initial search function. Since the majority of users gravitated towards the locations search tab, I made it the first option. Since some users wanted the option to search by both location and activity, I added in a more advanced filtering process on the landing page.
It was interesting to work on a product that doesn’t actually exist—it forced me to focus on aspects of the product that had corollaries in the real world. User research was challenging in this way because users obviously didn’t have any direct experience with time travel. However, it encouraged me to delve into the emotional aspects of the travel experiences, increasing my empathetic connection with my interviewees.
This focus on empathy and user needs will surely carry through to future projects. I also feel more confident working on cutting-edge products that are the first of their kind.There are always connections to be made with existent products, all the while pushing yourself into the unknown of innovation.