Duration: 4 weeks | Team: 3

People travel for pleasure, adventure, relaxation, and fun. Technology, specifically mobile technology, helps both locals and tourists navigate their way around a city. While looking down at mobile maps, sharing pictures on social networks, or capturing the moment with social updates, travelers are immersed in the technology rather than enjoying the experience of travel. Naturally, posing a question about meaningful intersections between technology and travel exposes tangential questions. The question we asked ourselves was, when does this technology go from being an aid to interference?

As the problem and solution evolved, we wanted to promote the idea of collaborative reflection on a space. A traveler’s presence in a space has certain implications that are spontaneously encouraged.

All three members of the team were involved in almost every stage of the project. My role involved design ideation and brainstorming, user research and interviews, conceptualization of prototypes, sketching, storyboarding, interaction design, poster design and process book documentation.


Literature review

We searched journal archives, such as ACM Digital Library, and found the following keywords to be the most relevant to helping us frame our prototypes and the service we wanted to develop:
Keywords used to identify relevant literature
Location-Based Services, Tourism, Context-Aware, Social Travel, Location + Activity Recommendation

User Research

Our initial target audience included anyone with the urge to travel, so we interviewed a variety of people, from students to experienced globe-trotters, to understand their motivations, habits, and needs while traveling.

Interview #1 - Experienced globetrotter
Highlight: “Other people travel and follow a structured plan, outlined by someone else. I go and get lost.”

Interview #2 - Graduate student
Highlight: “I love driving. If there is any opportunity for me to drive long distances, I do not need to think twice. For me, traveling is an aspiration. I have seen people do it in the movies - picking up their backpacks and just leaving. I like the idea of being impulsive and visiting new places. It is something I won’t be able to do when I’m old.”

Interview#3 - Graduate student
Highlight: “I find the use of social networks while traveling extremely distracting.”

Interview#4 – Student
Highlight: “For travel itinerary, I’m not good at planning at all. I just follow my friends’ decision and if there’s no harm I’m up for it. Sometimes I do make decisions as where to eat. I just open Yelp, and choose the one nearby with the best reviews.”

Initial prototype concept

These initial prototype concepts are our rapid idea generation, to get as many ideas varying ideas out as possible.

Concept 1: Local Ambassadors
- Connect with locals to understand surroundings as they see it
- Post-experience reflection that doesn’t disrupt a travel moment
- Contribute to the interpretations of a space
This application has two major components: travel reflection and understanding new surroundings as locals see it.

Pros: Connecting with locals to understand the meaning they associate with different spaces
Cons: “Stranger danger”; how will this implementation ensure privacy and safety?

Concept 2: Find Yourself
- Lets users plan their own trips
- Helps users convey thoughts through keywords or colors
- Prioritize interests
- Lets users find themselves and remember what matters most

Pros: Unique opportunities for reflection (i.e., colors and keywords)
Cons: Unclear how this implementation would play out in other settings

Concept 3: Near Me
- Location-based feed
- Anonymous posting history
- 24hr online-to-offline event posting
- Explore nearby areas based on check-in popularity

Pros: Social component encourages collaboration, with crowd-sourced recommendation systems
Cons: This solution is very similar to several other applications (e.g.,Foursquare, Yelp)

Concept 4: Crowd-funded travel
- Aims at the period before and after the trip
- Encourages mutual participation
- Motivate the traveler and the donator
- 1-second a day postcard captures only those moments which matter the most

Pros: Creative reflection methods, including postcard captures to represent a trip
Cons: Crowd funding and personal e-commerce platforms exist, and focusing on travel goals may not be novel enough to compete

Proposed prototype


For the proposed prototype, we received constructive feedback about the app, the highlights of which were:
“This isn’t a trip-planning app. Good!”
“Simplify the interactions to relieve tensions.”
“Take advantage of the postcard aesthetic.”

User flow

Before building our final app, we created a general flow for anyone using our app

Final prototype

For our final design, we decided to focus on three call to actions:

Explore using technology to enhance – not disrupt – your experience
Connect with a community locals and fellow travelers to understand other’s interpretations of the same space
Reflect on personal travel experiences and contribute these reflections back to the community

The app calls on a common travel-communication metaphor: a postcard. We wanted to employ this metaphor as an opportunity to include three distinct pieces of information on each reflection: image (as seen on the back of a postcard), recipient, and a personalized message about the moment. We hope to employ this design to emulate the nostalgia associated with physical postcards.

Interact with the final prototype here

Check out the Process book

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