A highly collaborative and hassle-free platform for group travelers to plan trips.
Lead UX/UI designer
Wiigo is a product I and my four teammates from the information school designed during our Designing Information Experiences course in Spring 2021. We were tasked to design an end-to-end product or service of our choice to improve people’s experiences.
As the most experienced designer and a big fan of traveling, I led the experience design, research, and strategy, including but not limited to research plan creation, data synthesis, problem scoping, ideation, interaction and interface design, interactive prototype creation, and user testing.
Having more time after the course, I individually iterated on the design and fleshed out more details.
When searching for experiences to improve, we found that we all love traveling but feel that planning trips can be tiring and overwhelming, particularly when planning group trips. Soon, we realized we were not alone: many people around us were facing the exact sentiments. We grew curious and asked:
How might we provide an easy and collaborative trip planning experience to group travelers?
Reimagine the group trip planning experience with a highly collaborative and hassle-free trip planning platform.
Invite travel buddies to plan trips together
Kick off group plannings by adding location, travelmates, and dates in one screen.
Explore activities and add to group plans
Easily filter out favorite activities and add to travel groups. Leave a note to share a bit about why you choose what you choose.
Collaboratively determine day-by-day itineraries
Drag and drop the selected activities to the itinerary calendar. Lock activities to avoid being optimized in the next step.
Optimize itineraries with suggested activities and routes
Optimize travel routes based on proximity and business hours. Make the trips more memorable by suggesting activities the group may like.
How do group travelers plan their trips and what pain points do they have?
With the design challenge in mind, we interviewed nine potential users who frequently travel in groups to understand:
1. How do their groups usually plan their trips?
2. What pain points and challenges do they and their travelmates have in planning their trips?
3. What do they need for a good group travel itinerary and how do they define a delightful group travel experience?
We also collected their itineraries to further analyze what information they include in itineraries and to what details they record this information.
After synthesizing the research findings, I came up with the following key insights:
Planning group trips can be very taxing and inefficient.
Group travelers have to juggle an incredible amount of platforms to explore, share, discuss, and finalize their plans.
Knowing and satisfying everybody’s needs is not easy.
It takes the planners great effort to understand different travelmates’ expectations and coordinate different needs.
Travelmates may unconsciously compromise on their trips.
Every travelmate is supposed to have an equal say on the plan. However, one person may end up planning the whole trip because others dread the hassle of planning.
USER JOURNEY MAP
How do planners feel in the group trip planning journey?
To understand the process of planning group trips and how planners feel throughout the process, I started drawing out a user journey map of a typical trip planning cycle informed by our research.
From the emotional “ups” and “downs”, I noticed that users are frustrated in the “Kick off planning”, “Search for activities”, and “Share itineraries” phases. These low emotional points are the keys to improve the whole group trip planning experience. Therefore, we decided to focus on these three phases in our design.
Users are frustrated in the “Kick off planning”, “Research for activities”, and “Share itineraries” phases.
What is our opportunity?
After deciding to focus on these three phases in group trip planning, we closely examined similar products in the market to see how they solve similar problems and to identify market gaps.
We found these products fall into two categories:
1. Activities-focused with limited trip planning support
While these products provide inclusive activities with informative details for people to explore, they have none or very limited planning functions. They support planning by letting users create a “trip” and save the activities they like to it. In the end, users only see a list of activities added to the trip.
2. Trips planning-based with few activities exploration
These products offer better planning tools for users to create their day-by-day itineraries. However, users have to type in the activities’ names manually. These products are more for users who already known what they want to do.
Therefore, we found our sweet spot:
Provide ample activities with helpful information for group travelers to explore and help them create itineraries easily.
Brainstormed solutions and user flow.
Informed by all our research insights, I framed our design challenge as three “how might we” statements to set our team up for innovative solutions. After collecting all the team members’ solutions, we voted for the ones that best responded to each statement.
1. How might we ensure that travelers won’t miss
out on all the “good stuff”?
2. How might we help make a delightful trip when
people have different preferences on what to do?
3. How might we help travelers optimize their travel
plan, such as more appropriate activities and best route?
Then, we defined a primary flow for groups travelers to create plans collaboratively with the most voted solutions which we think can best resolve users’ challenges.
What work well and what can be improved?
I created a mid-fidelity prototype to test the concept and usability for four main flows:
1. invite friends to create a plan for their group trip
2. add activities to the plan
3. drag and drop activities in the itinerary calendar
4. optimized the itinerary
We have obtained many valuable feedback:
What work pretty well?
Filters help narrow down activities and make participants feel “they’re not missing anything”.
Participants prefer commenting on activities over a separate group chat feature since it guides them to stay on topic.
The option of adding to group, subgroup, or themselves is an effective way to resolve different preferences’ problem.
“Highly collaborative” is participants’ favorite feature. They all think it adds uniqueness to our product.
What can be improved?
The flow from “add activities” to “create itineraries” should be more intuitive. Participants expressed uncertainty about what they could do next.
Participants prefer the map on a separate page because it’s a bit crowded and they want to see more info on both views.
Participants were unsure about what “optimize” means in conjunction with what they were doing.
The drag & drop action lacks discoverability.
How can I make the navigation more intuitive and the drag & drop action discoverable?
While we were improving the design based on users’ feedback, I found two improvements most critical and challenging:
1. How can I make the navigation more intuitive?
After adding all the activities they like, users are supposed to go to the itinerary page by clicking the itinerary icon in the upper right corner. However, this flow was unclear to participants though the number on the itinerary icon would change accordingly to indicate the next step:
“Just added this activity.
Where should I go next?”
“Umm, should I click here?
But what does this icon mean?”
Participants’ thinking process in the original activity page
Therefore, I tried different information architectures and designs to inform users of their current step and signal their next step to make the flow clearer and more intuitive:
After testing with different users, I found they like the version below the most. It reminds them of their familiar shopping cart experience. Besides, it provides them a place to see all the selected activities and tells them the number of activities being added to the group thus far:
“Selected Activities” tab was added to allow users to glance all the activities chosen by the group.
Icon names were added to signify their functions.
A box pops up for a few seconds after users add an activity. A call-to-action button was included to signify their next step.
2. How can I enhance the discoverability of the drag and drop action?
Users are supposed to drag the selected activities on the left to the right calendar to start planning their day-by-day itineraries. However, the original design failed to signify this affordance:
“Umm... What should I do with the activities?”
Participants’ thinking process in the original itinerary page
To begin with, I improved the interface by aligning the activity cards from the selected activities panel with their final look when the cards are moved to the calendar. Besides, I also changed the calendar design from grids to columns to provide clearer affordance.
Aligned the activity card with its final look in the calendar.
Changed the calendar design from grids to columns.
Two design improvements from visual level
These two design changes have greatly improved the discoverability from visual level. To better enhance the drag and drop experience, I added micro-interactions to signal where exactly users can locate the activity cards and provide feedback while dragging the cards around:
During the usability testing, all our participants think the product can resolve their pain points effectively during the group planning process and they look forward to using the final product.
Usability testing participant
"I would love to use this finished product because I don't know any other services that are collaborative like this one."
Usability testing participant
"I would be excited about the trip because everyone's voice will be heard. I feel organized and proactive."
Instructor of the course
"Great job! The project makes me want to take a trip!"
Usability testing participant
"I would totally use this product - I'm an organizer and this would be a good way to hold people accountable."
If Wiigo gets released, we will use the following key metrics to measure its success:
- customer feedback/ratings
- retention rate
- total trips planned using Wiigo
A Mobile version is an indispensable part of Wiigo to make the users’ experience more complete and pleasant. It is more convenient for travelers to check their itineraries on their phones while traveling. Meanwhile, we hope we can facilitate travelers in exploring unplanned adventures to make their trips more memorable.
Integration of booking and reservation.
From an experience perspective, users would like to have an one-stop shop for all the trip-related things, including booking and reservation. Therefore, we plan to integrate booking and reservation in our next step to make the platform more desirable and viable.
Iteration! Iteration! Iteration!
Making the flow from “add activities” to “create itineraries” more intuitive and the drag & drop action more discoverable
were the two most challenging parts when designing the product. Without too many ideas at first, I started by creating the first version and kept improving on the previous one until I got an ideal one. The process was very magical. You would be surprised by how much better the last version is when compared with the initial one.