TIME TRAVEL AGENCY RESPONSIVE ECOMMERCE SITE
Challenge How might we sell time travel trips to adventurous travelers?
Solution Create a newly branded, standalone website that sells a limited range
of customizable products directly to customers
Client Virgin Group
Roles UX research, UX design, UI
Tools Figma, Whimsical, Miro, OptimalSort, paper and pencil
Timeframe 6 weeks
Background "Point" is the name of a fictional time-travel agency, imagined as a subsidiary
of Richard Branson’s Virgin empire. Having made time travel tourism available they need a responsive e-commerce website to sell their travel packages to 289 destinations in the past.
RESEARCH + SYNTHESIS
What can we learn from competitive analysis?
Analysis of indirect competitors like SpaceX and National Geographic Expeditions revealed inspiration for how to engage travelers to book time-travel trips on Point. All of the travel expedition services were able to
• enable a transparent and efficient check out process
• generate enthusiasm for trips
• create traveler trust
Studying traveler data, I gained insights into traveler behavior including
• Millennials travel the most, boomers the least
• The wealthier travelers are the more they travel
• All travelers like a high degree of trip filtering and customizability
• The most common viewport for booking is desktop/laptop
• Mobile searching and booking is on the rise
Who is our target audience?
From here, five provisional personas emerged spanning ages from 23 - 75,
• Millennial travel enthusiast
• Gen x adventurer
• Wealthy senior explorer
• Retired couple
• Sci-fi history buff
What do they really want?
One-on-one interviews with a person representing each traveler type were conducted,
and not surprisingly,
Travelers sought safety, ease of use, inspiration, affordability, efficiency and transparency
Because millennials travel the most, I created a persona and empathy map based on "Griffin" to understand generalized millennial goals, fears, behaviors, motivations, and limitations regarding the potential to travel in time.
Similar to other the persona types, Griffin yearned to travel in order to escape his current stressors. He wanted to create a new and inspiring learning experience, and his choices were dictated by his socioeconomic status. Surprisingly, this effort uncovered that for millennials
Money can buy pleasure,
but it cannot buy happiness
Griffin's high degree of tech savviness was facilitating his addiction to "lifestyle porn" on social media, fueling his desire to want to help make the world more equitable.
Determining the features the site required that I consider traveler goals, business goals, and technical considerations. The overlap of these three need sets defined the product goals.
In order to refine the organization of the trip product offerings I conducted an open card sort using OptimalSort with fifteen travelers to understand how people thought of trips, and narrowed it down to the four main categories of location, person, time, and event, with the interesting finding that all participants in the study were generally drawn to historical "firsts" and "lasts." I learned that trips needed to be customizable and filterable based on ta wide range of physical abilities and interest preferences of our travelers.
From my research analysis and product goals, I was able to determine
the feature roadmap and site map.
In searching for trips I could offer trip customizability with filters for accommodation type, fitness level, and interests.
It's critical to focus on a single significant objective
Easily booking a trip
I referenced six ways of learning about Point that a traveler may have gained exposure through to arrive on the homepage. I stepped through the task flow to establish the product requirements necessary for a traveler to do this. Related tasks included generally browsing trips, learning about
the safety and technology Point offered, selecting and customizing a trip, to finally booking a trip. Lining out the "book a trip" task flow illuminated the main pages to design with their
associated emotional and informational requirements.
Through my qualitative research I learned that to book a trip, travelers need to engage in additional steps to become confident enough to commit to spending thousands of dollars on a time travel experience. I identified and mapped four other activities (entry, discovery, learning, and account creation) and showed how their decision points interrelate to the booking flow.
With broad stroke sketches I allocated screen real estate to various sections to create options for the home page design
From there I identified the key screens of home, destinations, trip overview, and check out,and from these I moved to lo-fi wireframes with interaction and motion opportunities.
Testing to book and save a trip exposed viewport considerations
BRANDING + UI DESIGN
First, I developed a sci-fi inspired style to create excitement for time travel adventures.
Next, I dove into word concepts by thinking about what a "point" is as it applies to time travelers.
We are here and now at one "point" in time, and we go elsewhere for a "point," a reason.
From this conceptual exercise I was able to arrive on a logo.
Moving forward with this aesthetic sensibility, I created a UI kit that was contemporary and futuristic with a subtle nod to the past displaying occasional serif typography and engravings.
PROTOTYPING + TESTING
Once I applied this system to the wireframe structure a cohesion emerged
to generate trust and excitement.
Prototype tests indicated that 5/5 travelers could quickly and easily book a trip (< 4 minutes),
5/5 travelers could quickly save a trip (< 2 minutes), and 4/5 completed both tasks error free.
The tests also helped illuminate areas to improve which
were largely centered around traveler desires for
• Forgiveness (a chance to correct mistakes)
With more time I would continue to work through prototype improvements deemed appropriate by the business development team, continuing to test and iterate until we had an agreed upon MVP (minimum viable product) prototype. Once we gained consensus that it aligned with traveler, business and technical objectives I would then work with developers to ensure seamless deployment.
Surprisingly, hi-fidelity prototypes and testing exposed unforeseen traveler characteristics.
Tech savviness and socioeconomic status
were the strongest determinants of
I also learned that designers must consider
The viewports (mobile, tablet, desktop) and environmental contexts travelers may be looking at information within (on the go, while seated, while distracted) significantly affect their experience of the content, as well as the brand of hardware and software they use. People have varying familiarity with different design systems and icon recognition (i.e. Google’s Material, Apple’s HIG, Carbon from IBM, Fluent by Microsoft, Polaris by Shopify, etc.).
Product Provides Feedback
Travelers appreciate abundant communication as they use
the site in the forms of
error prevention, toast messages
, tool tips
, and experience ratings.
Bias Recognition & Inclusivity
Bias is implicit in every choice
we make, so UX designers should deeply consider their work as a collaboration with fellow humans in order to design for inclusivity and accessibility. We must carefully consider language and word choices for the vast ranges of race, religion, physical ability, mental health, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, tech savviness, hardware brands with their associated design systems and software platforms, as well as viewport and situational viewing preferences.
What I learned about my personal UX process included
Software Tool Considerations
With multiple tools available to solve problems, it’s important
to explore new software regularly, learn quickly, and choose the best tools for each task.
I learned to work with
broad strokes in thinking and implementation, to fill in details gradually, zooming out, taking a wide view often so as not to lose sight of the main objectives in my life and work—to honor, listen, learn, and serve others by making their lives better with digital products so they can grow in their offline lives. Money and tech can’t buy happiness, and human connection with compassion is
at the heart of a meaningful life.
My main findings were that
• All decisions by UX designers and the people who use their creations
are determined by implicit bias
• Caring to know and learning what our stories are will help us work together
to make digital experiences that are useful, usable and equitable.
Love should be at the center
of how we approach
our work and lives
Because that's the point.