Group Trip App Feature
group (3 total)
Sketch, Axure, InVision,
Pencil and Paper
As an avid traveler, I was beyond stoked to work with Wanderu. I've used them quite a bit in the past couple of years. I really love the simplicity, cleanliness, and power of their product. Plus, Chiku is insanely cute.
When my team first met with our client, VP of Design & UX at Wanderu, we asked a zillion questions about her vision of the project. But her answer to our question "What does success look like?" was the most indicative of how the project would ultimately play out. She responded, "You're going to learn a lot." And, boy, did we. She wanted us to take charge on the project and was very careful not to give us any breadcrumbs to where she wanted us to go. Using that autonomy was freeing.
This is gonna be good. Today you'll learn, among other things, how my teammates and I conducted guerrilla interviews at the two major train stations in Boston, had an exhausting and super productive 5-hour affinity mapping and feature prioritization session, sketched and sketched and sketched our way to paper and clickable prototypes, tested those prototypes' usability, and finally presented a Group Trip app feature to the co-founder of Wanderu and other prominent stakeholders of the company. Pretty solid three weeks if you ask me.
I <3 project management
My organization and clarity of direction were on display from the get-go. I focused my leadership on strategies to conduct in-depth user interviews, synthesize the research, give life to fleshed out personas, and craft and script an insightful and charismatic presentation. I also offered directional support to my teammate Nicole, who led the team in all things visual design, to make sure all our efforts kept our users in mind and that we were sticking to our schedule.
Research & Discovery
Sizing up the competition
I looked at Wanderu’s direct competition, the Canadian-based BusBud, and also more established travel brands: Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, Hipmunk, and Kayak. I learned that while the heavy-hitters, unsurprisingly, had easy-to-use search filters as well as simple payment options, they also had some robust features like multiple currency and language options, as well as interesting social media presences that were generally underwhelming, little used, or developer focused.
Kayak was an interesting one, they had the beginnings of a Group Trip feature, but that turned out to be nothing more than a group price watch list. I put a pin in that little nugget of info and continued our research.
Quick word of advice: Don't approach strangers in transit with a bucket of candy. It's weird. Our smiles show that the photo above was taken before we were rejected over and over and over. But that didn't stop us. We ditched the candy and hit the pavement again.
Thankfully, there are helpful people in this world. I spoke to 9 different people face-to-face or on the phone, and gathered 27 survey responses from Reddit and Slack. Altogether, 47 representative users providing quantitative and qualitative feedback gave us plenty of rich data to synthesize.
(I created the "One-Question" survey after our client chose the Group Trip feature as the focus for our project. It was integral in helping us hone in on our ultimate pain point. The question: What’s the most difficult part about planning a group trip?)
That 5-hour affinity mapping session
What started here with "I statements" from 47 representative users...
...somehow made it here in a very lonnnng two-and-a-half hours.
Then we discussed a bunch of overarching "I statements," drew circles around those groups of post-its to create more cohesive plots, then drew lines from one group to another, and finally decided that going digital was an easier way to visualize our findings.
We boiled that list of "I statements" into four features based on their ranking of need within three areas: General Issues with Transportation, Wanderu's Business Needs, and most importantly, User Needs. Each feature got its own problem statement.
Four Main Features
- Bearings: “I love getting my bearings.” Our users feel lost upon arrival at their destination.
- Connectivity: “Coordinating a trip with multiple people is never easy.” Our users want an easier way to book and coordinate with their friends and family between preferences, budgets, opinions and schedules. Things can get out of control and kill the fun.
- Price Alert: “I want to save money and I don’t know when to book.” Our users want to eliminate the guessing game for certain routes.
- Live Updates/Policies: “I want to know about cancellations and delays.” The biggest problem we found during research. There is no notification if your bus/train is cancelled or delayed. Unfortunately, you find out only when you get to the station.
I presented these four features to our client and she chose to have my team focus on the connectivity feature (or Group Trip as we ultimately called it). Knowing that there was room in the market for this type of feature was a key point of the pitch.
No one digs group travel planning
The team conducted a Design Studio to get our early ideas on the table. My penmanship was questionable at best.
Then we created some more intricate and design-focused sketches giving life to our first paper prototype. Nicole clearly wins the penmanship battle. I didn't stand a chance.
Our designs were heavily based on Wanderu's existing layout, but we made decisions for layout, non-existing iconography, and of course the flow of screens.
Shipping up to boston
(The personas actually went from Boston to New York, but I prefer the snappy title.)
I created three personas based on our user research to help guide us through our process: Michael, Lauren, and Justin. They're three friends who live in Boston and have been itching to get down to NYC for a while now. Finally they have some time in their schedules and they're going to use Wanderu's new Group Trip feature to book their trip.
These three consistently served as our gut-check any time Nicole, Nick, and I lost focus. Which was more frequent than I'd like to admit.
Usability Testing (Paper)
I took our paper prototype to some users and they pointed out some noticeable flaws in the design which I've listed below. Overall, the testing went pretty smoothly regarding the big stuff like navigation and clarity of the preferences page, and overlooked the standard functional issues of paper testing.
The main problems:
- I named the feature WandergroUp because I thought it was clever, but no one knew what that meant. So yeah, don't try to be clever. I renamed it "Group Trip."
- Users felt the “Preferences” looked like they were for the whole group. The goal was to aggregate individual user's preferences to filter best available options for the group. I changed the wording to "My Preferences for This Trip."
- Certain buttons were not labeled and therefore were unclear. I labeled them.
- No one really knew if they were booking for just themselves or for the whole group. I added "Who are you paying for" at the top of the booking page for clarity.
We took the information from our paper tests and iterated on it to create a mid-fi clickable prototype.
After testing the clickable prototype with user flows based on my personas' travel plans, we took away these main points which we ironed out in the final product:
- Departure/return trips were not clearly labeled, so clear labels were added. Easy!
- Having the credit card input early in the "Preferences" area made everyone uncomfortable. I just got rid of it so the user could enter it in Wanderu's existing purchase area when they were ready.
- It wasn’t clear who was paying for whom. That's when the split payment feature was born.
- People loved the "Itinerary" idea once they got there, so I changed flow and put it first.
In the end, the team and I created a feature that:
- Is new to the travel market
- Is fun and easy-to-use
- Increases customer acquisition
Oh, and as our client foresaw, we also learned a TON.
Booking the next trip
A few weeks is never enough time to do all you want with a project. While we completed a truckload of work, explored a handful of powerful features, and ultimately solved the target problem for our users, there are some more things we'd like to do:
- Make the top user display scrollable on trips that have more than four users
- Build out the Explore Function and integrate it into Google Maps so users can explore their surroundings before arrival
- Build out the split payment feature to give users more options to share payments
- Build out the itinerary feature so people can keep track of their plans
Presentation at Wanderu HQ
Our initial client presentation went so well, she asked the team to come to Wanderu's headquarters and present to a team of stakeholders. We happily said, "SOUNDS LEGIT!" and shared our final product in the form of a 30-minute lunch-and-learn with Q&A session. Our guests included the VP of Design & UX, the Co-Founder, the CTO, and a roomful of 15 or so engineers, designers, and others. I'm happy to announce that it went swimmingly, and both the Co-Founder and CTO shook our hands and gave us high praise for our work.