ROUTEWISE

Designing a 0→1 MVP to help travelers create optimized routes for their daily travel itinerary.

Timeline: 8 weeks (Nov - Dec 2023)

Role: Sole UX/UI Designer

Tools: Figma | FigJam | Maze

Team: Cheryl Chen, Product Manager | David Ekunno, Front-end Developer | Kate Lueders, Back-end Developer

Team: Cheryl Chen, Product Manager | David Ekunno, Front-end Developer | Kate Lueders, Back-end Developer

OVERVIEW

RouteWise is a travel planning product that helps travelers cut down on the time it takes to plan their daily travel itinerary by generating an optimized itinerary to help travelers maximize their time at the destination without spending hours mapping out the fine details.


As part of Co.lab’s 8-week product boot camp, I teamed up with developers and a product manager to design and ship a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). As the team's sole UX/Product Designer, I spearheaded the user experience and interface design of the web-based platform, resulting in an easy-to-use MVP solution with a clean design.

90%

of users found the process of adding locations and generating an itinerary to be "very easy"

of users found the process of adding locations and generating an itinerary to be "very easy"

of users found the process of adding locations and generating an itinerary to be "very easy"

Seamless interface

Though not explicitly asked, many users commented on the pleasant and easy-to-understand UI

Though not explicitly asked, many users commented on the pleasant and easy-to-understand UI

Though not explicitly asked, many users commented on the pleasant and easy-to-understand UI

CONTEXT

In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, the allure of travel has never been stronger.

Planning a trip often starts months in advance with determining travel dates and booking flights and accommodations. This is often followed by countless hours scouring the web and scrolling the never-ending feeds of social media apps to collect a treasure trove of the best places to see, things to eat, and activities to experience.


However, it's not enough just to have a list of desired places to visit within a travel destination. You also need a plan—when are you going to climb to that mountain top with breathtaking views to watch the sunset? How are you going to make sure you hit all the popular landmarks and attractions without missing out?


But organizing all the things you want to do and the places you want to go in a logical and time-efficient takes even more time.

PROBLEM

Frequent travelers need an efficient method for planning day-to-day itineraries in order to save time in planning while ensuring a smooth and enjoyable trip.

USER RESEARCH

Travelers find planning the day-to-day activities of their trips to be time-consuming

Based on preliminary user research conducted by our product manager during Co.Lab’s SPRINT boot camp that was held just before the formation of our team, we came in with some background data about pain points that travelers face in their planning process.


I continued the research by using a survey to collect additional data on user behaviors, motivations, and challenges and by digging deeper into user interviews to understand users’ specific experiences.


User research showed us that:

➤ 62% of users find travel planning time-consuming

➤ 52% of users find it challenging to track the information saved on different platforms

➤ 48% of users are afraid of missing out on an activity or location of interest

➤ 48% of users need help planning the most efficient route
➤ 62% of users find travel planning time-consuming

➤ 52% of users find it challenging to track the information saved on different platforms

➤ 48% of users are afraid of missing out on an activity or location of interest

➤ 48% of users need help planning the most efficient route
➤ 62% of users find travel planning time-consuming

➤ 52% of users find it challenging to track the information saved on different platforms

➤ 48% of users are afraid of missing out on an activity or location of interest

➤ 48% of users need help planning the most efficient route

Additionally, while many trip ideas are collected on mobile devices via social media, most of the actual research and planning occurs on laptop or desktop computers. This led us to a crucial question in solving travelers’ planning needs:

How might we provide travelers with an efficient way to plan complex itineraries in order to save them time in planning while ensuring a smooth trip?

USER FLOWS

Highlighting the key product features and user interactions.

With a strict deadline to design and develop a live site with 7 weeks to go, we narrowed our focus to the two primary value propositions we wanted to provide our users:

Generating a proximity-based itinerary from a user’s desired and saved locations

Receiving recommended activities and places based on the user’s interest

These features would be demonstrated with the following user flows::

  1. Sign up and complete a travel preference survey

To ensure a user’s travel preferences are saved in order to receive recommendations based on their interests, and to save generated itineraries to support user retention.

  1. Adding places* to generate an itinerary

➣ Allows users to generate an itinerary based on their desired places.

*For clarity in communication among the team, we used the word “places” to refer to individual points of interests within a city, and “location” or "destination" interchangeably to refer to the city destination of travel)

  1. Providing recommendations based on user interest

➣ Using the data from a quick one-question onboarding survey, users would be provided recommendations of places for their desired destination.

As a designer, I collaborated with the product team and sought input from developers to ensure that the features and design were technically feasible to complete within a 7-week time frame.

WIREFRAMING

Designing for Delight

Due to the visual experience of travel, I knew that the presence of photos would carry a lot of weight in the user experience. Given that we would be using a free API for the photos used, it felt imperative to keep the interface simple knowing I had no control in the type of images that would appear in the places added to the user’s itinerary list.


In the sketching and mid-fidelity stages, I focused on generating different interface options with the goal of minimizing clutter and avoiding too much visual conflict, particularly in the screens that would deliver the core value of our product.


Each screen in the flow of creating an itinerary had a sole purpose to enhance the ease of use.

The Survey Page

As part of the onboarding flow, users would complete a brief one-question survey to select the types of activities they enjoy during travel. I landed on the option that provides users with a visual and text pairing while utilizing whitespace within each card to avoid visual clutter

The Adding Places Page

Multiple options were explored, drawing inspiration from existing map-related products. While it isn't as common to see a map view presented on the left side of the screen, we moved forward with this option because of the further action that is required to generate an itinerary, and on a linear plane, forward most often is associated with the right side.

The Itinerary Page

In contrast to the Adding Places page, this page was designed for the map to sit on the right for two reasons:


  1. To differentiate between pre- and post-itinerary-generated lists of places


  2. To accommodate additional features, such as a menu bar and the ability to edit the itinerary by moving place cards and adding additional places to the itineary

In contrast to the Adding Places page, was designed for the map to sit on the right for two reasons:

  1. To differentiate between pre- and post-itinerary-generated list of places


  2. To accommodate additional features, such as a menu bar and ability to edit the itinerary by moving place cards and adding additional places to the itineary

CHALLENGES

Prioritizing product value when strapped for time.

Due to unexpected coding and algorithm challenges, we adjusted our sprints and MVP features to prioritize the itinerary generation feature in order to meet our deadline. We scaled back and returned the recommendations feature to our backlog, ensuring the product value of a proximity-based itinerary isn't compromised.


Additional iterations that surfaced included updates made to the site when designing and developing responsive screens for smaller screens, including how key desktop interactions—such as adding places to a list—would translate to mobile.

USER TESTING AND IMPACT

Easy-to-navigate user flows and a clean UI for product usability

I took to Maze to conduct testing of the Figma prototype to gather feedback on the primary user flows of the MVP with potential users.* Given a 5-point scale to rate the ease of use of each task, an average of 86.5% of users found the tasks of signing to be “very easy to complete, with 17% rating the tasks as “easy.” A striking 90% of users found it “very easy” to complete the primary feature of adding places to generate an itinerary.


Users also commented that a clean interface helped them to quickly understand everything on each page and that receiving an itinerary that automatically groups places based on proximity and that is also editable helps maximize time spent at their destination and cut down on planning time.

90% of users found the primary flow of adding places to generate an itinerary to be Very Easy

*Spoiler alert: Further live testing of our live site has been conducted as we improve the features and functionalities for our MVP v.2 in Q2 of 2024. Stay tuned for updates!

DEMO DAY SOLUTION

A travel planner that generates an itinerary based on the proximity of locations to minimize time spent planning and maximize how user’s are spending their time during travel.

LEARNINGS AND NEXT STEPS

Recommendations, Saving Trips, and Google API, Oh My!

After being selected as one of 3 product teams to present at Co.Lab’s Demo day, the RouteWise journey continues on!


While we primarily focused on designing and developing the itinerary generation feature, there was a long list in our backlog of additional features that we plan on rolling out for our MVP v.2. This includes providing recommended places, saving trips and itineraries to future reference, and eventually transferring to the mighty Google API.

This project provided a profound understanding of the significance of working within technical constraints, fostering adaptability in design while anchoring solutions to users and product value, and highlighted the skills I aim to continue to build on in my design journey, including growing my visual design skills and communicating about design with developers.

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