Carnegie Mellon University, UCRE
A collaborative trip-planning browser tool designed to help our users travel together without the fuss from group planning.
Designer, UX Researcher.
“How might we help young budget conscious travelers efficiently plan trips collaboratively?” In our research, we found that 62% of Gen Z travelers prefer traveling in groups, particularly with other individuals within the same age and social circles. However, current solutions for collaborative trip planning lack flexibility in accomodating for different planning styles, and often have a high learning curve. Our project aims to provide users a flexible and image driven platform for trip planning that is appealing to younger and budget conscious travelers.
Our goal focused on helping college aged and younger working users plan trips amongst their cohort effectively and collaboratively. We used 7 user-centered research methods to study travel planning habits among young and budget conscious traveler, and to test the usability and viability of our proposed solution. Conducting generative and evaluative research methods helped us better understand user needs and pain points that led to our final problem statement.
We were able to distill our findings into several guiding insights. Most individuals are guided by visual appeal in early stages of trip planning. When planning trips collaboratively, users appreciate flexibility in time commitment and decision-making.
Additionally, we observed that our users also have varying levels of trip planning style, and for group decisions, they appreciate subtle and indirect ways to resolve social differences. We also documented evidence of these insights with direct quotes from interview participants and data collected from surveys. These were all insights we took deeply into consideration when conceptualizing our final design solution.
Our final solution is Totem, a web-based extension that allows users to collaboratively (or individually) plan trips using an image-driven approach. The solution works by letting users save relevant links and imagery into user-defined boards.
In order to address our user's preferences in being able to switch between multiple sites, tabs and access points easily, we took the approach of providing two separate access points; a browser extension view, which will parse the information of most-commonly used travel sites across the web and create "saveable" objects; as shown in the left wireframe, the user is able to select the data and save a flight listing directly from another site. The algorithm will also help in deciding which trip the plane ticket is most suitable for, and push the trip response it believes the user will most likely select. The right features a dashboard view, where the user can work collaboratively on a shared page composed of these saved listings. They will be able to comment, like, and sort/filter based on factors like price, date, etc.
Totem is named after the visual metaphor of stacking objects together to create something bigger as a whole, which is something we aimed to replicate through our solution. In the ideation of totem, we were inspired by other productivity apps, including Notion.io, Slack, Trello, and others. Through user testing, we found that our target group very closely resonated with many of these apps, as they are often included and used extensively into common lines of study and work, and thus provided effective and intuitive UI patterns for us to model our designs off of.