Helping young adults find affordable and safe spaces to stay while traveling.
User Research Interaction Design Visual Design Prototyping
Oct 30 - Nov 4, 2019 Design Sprint Individual Project
Figma Sketch Marvel
How can we help adults lodge safely?
The World Tourism Organization estimated that approximately 1.4 billion people had traveled the world in 2018. It is interesting to understand how people make decisions for traveling - from transportation and accommodation to medicines and insurance. It can be understood that a majority of people maintain a budget while traveling, but often this budget is exceeded due to expensive prices of hotel stays and inns. Safety is a major factor that has to be considered while traveling and lodging.
Here's the problem statement I came up with:
"How might we help young adults find affordable and safe spaces to stay while traveling?"
Designing a mobile app
Spaces is an app that helps young adults find affordable and safe spaces to stay when traveling to a new place. Spaces leverages your existing Facebook friend network to find hosts to accommodate your stay.
Find new spaces to stay using the default card view and the interactive map view.
Use the Search function to find amazing spaces to stay in cities all over the world.
With Messenger Integration, chat with your host for a personalized experience and feel right at home!
Planning my Research and Design
Desk Research Online Survey Short Interviews
Affinity Mapping Target User Group Ideation User Scenarios
Low Fidelity High Fidelity
Understanding how people feel while traveling and lodging
To understand the feelings of people, I analyzed different platforms that offer places to stay while traveling. I did a comparative analysis of the platforms Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com to understand how the problems that users faced.
Instead of focusing on the visual or the technology aspect of the platforms, I looked at the ratings and reviews of people who booked stays. In addition to these three platforms, I looked at the postings on Craigslist about apartments that people can temporarily rent. After analyzing each of these platforms, I found some common problems associated with these systems.
I created my survey using Google Forms and distributed it around the r/samplesize subreddit and shared it on some Telegram groups and Slack channels that I was part of. The survey asked questions about where the survey takers had traveled in the past year, the purpose of their travel, where they had stayed during their travel and whether they faced any problems during the travel. In two days, I received 27 responses. Based on the responses that I got from the survey, I made affinity notes on Miro to find possible groupings or relationships.
I interviewed four people by selecting them through convenience sampling and organized a short interview with each person - around thirty to forty minutes long. The interview was semistructured, as I wanted to prompt the interviewees based on their responses. My goal was to find if they had faced any problems with finding safe lodging during their trips.
One of the interviewees stated that he experienced racism at inns since he had a foreign-sounding name. Another interviewee stated that her Airbnb received some negative reviews after she had booked her stay. She tried to cancel her stay and was charged a huge amount. Similar to the survey, I represented these interview notes using sticky notes on Miro for affinity mapping.
Analyzing the Research Findings
I performed affinity mapping to find possible groupings and relationships between the notes that I got from the survey and the interviews. I got to know that the interviewees and the survey takers faced similar problems while traveling resulting in negative experiences. While the people who had positive experiences stated that they either knew the people who organized their stay or their relatives and friends knew the people who helped organize their stay.
Here are my findings.
Target User Group
Based on the survey demographics, I got a majority of responses from people who were in the age range of 18-27 followed by people who were in the age range of 28-37. Based on these results, I got to know that the target user group consisted of young adults and adults below the age of 40.
Here is the distribution of the different age groups that I got from the survey.
My initial idea was to create a sort of system that would help people find places by having a conversation with the host who’s organizing their stay using video communication. This would allow two things.
1. The travelers could look at their place in the video, as photos don’t showcase audio and noise levels
2. Meaningful conversations could foster compatibility and matching
I met my interviewees again to discuss my findings and get feedback on my new idea. Two of them said that they miss the warmth of feeling at home while they were traveling abroad or were staying at an Airbnb or a lodge.
Here’s the feedback that I received:
After receiving feedback, I started brainstorming to see how I could improve or change my solution. My new idea was to create a mobile app that could help users find places to stay that would offer both security and affordability by leveraging their existing network of friends. But how would I be able to acquire each person’s network of friends?
It would be possible to create such an app that would be a part of Facebook’s ecosystem. I looked into Facebook’s ecosystem since it offered three functions:
1. Leveraging a person’s network of friends
2. Using Messenger as a medium of communication (didn’t need a third-party app)
3. People wouldn’t want to create an account on a new social media platform just for finding stays while traveling
User Personas don’t communicate real-time use-cases. So, I considered a possible user scenario — with me as a traveler. Consider that I am looking for a place to stay when I’m traveling to Seattle in the coming month. How will I find a person who’s offering a place to stay in Seattle?
This is where my network of friends comes in:
Here, you can see that I am direct friends with Viola Chen and Marianne Rogers. Consider that Devlin Fernandes is offering a space in Seattle in the coming month. How can I communicate with Devlin regarding this, especially if he’s not in my friend circle?
Consider Viola Chen’s network of friends:
Devlin is the first connection of Viola. Viola can see that Devlin and her share some mutual friends. Similarly, there would be a scenario where Devlin could have some mutual friends with me. By leveraging this network, I can contact Devlin without sounding like a total stranger. This offers a sense of safety for me to communicate with Devlin and find details about his space in Seattle.
Low Fidelity Prototypes
I started with sketches to conceptualize the basic system design of my idea. From sketches, I came up with wireframes and low fidelity prototypes to understand the placing of icons and representation of information. I closely looked at travel booking and rental applications to get a better idea of the layout.
High Fidelity Prototypes
Once the basic layout was created, I came up with the High Fidelity Prototypes by incorporating the visual and minimalist design. Since the application was proposed to be in Facebook's suite of applications like Messenger and Marketplace, I closely followed Facebook's Branding and Color guidelines. Initially, I had named the app "Homespaces" and later renamed it to be "Spaces".
The Home Page displays rental spaces based on the user's current location. The user can change the location either by searching for another location or by clicking on the location icon.
Each card interface provides information about the name of the rental space, the price per night and has a "call-to-action" to display more information about that particular space.
Interactive Map View
The interactive map view helps users choose spaces based on the different neighborhoods in each city. Each space is represented with a blue dot and once the user touches the blue dot, a card displays the name of the space as well as the price per night.
Detail View for Space
The detail view displays a carousel of images of the rental space, the details of the owner of the space, and a rich description of the space.
The detail view also shows the user the mutual friends that he/she has with the owner of the space.
There is also a map view which externally links to Google Maps. The "call-to-action" button on this screen allows the user to check the availability of the space and book the space.