A SIX CHAPTER DRAMA

-

Table Of Contents

Prologue - Project Background 
Act 1 - Research Discovery
Act 2 - Project Development
Act 3 - Prototype Testing
Act 4 - High-Fidelity Prototype
Epilogue - Upcoming Features

PROLOGUE - A NEW FEATURE FOR YELP

IN THE BEGINNING

As an assigned project for Yelp, 3 fellow designers and I were tasked with designing a new proposal for a travel itinerary feature for the Yelp mobile app as high-fidelity prototype deliverable.

ABOUT YELP

Yelp is a mobile application designed to help people discover businesses by allowing people to write a review about a business service. Yelp was founded in 2004, with 28 million unique users visiting the site each month and featuring over 135 million business reviews by the end of 2017.

ACT 1 - RESEARCHING TRAVEL HABITS

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The tourism industry provides numerous opportunities for people to discover new businesses, which aligns with Yelp’s own goal of business discovery.

However, Yelp does not overtly acknowledge the tourism industry into their current business model, so our team determined that our proposed features should better accommodate this market. With this in mind, our team devised the following problem statement:

"Yelp does not meet the planning needs of travelers, which leads to decreased satisfaction & unnecessary stress during travel."

PROBLEM ANALYSIS

My team and I began our problem analysis by researching Yelp’s business competitors to determine their business goals. 

Yelp Competitive Analysis

The two main discoveries were that the referenced competitors have an itinerary feature built into their app, and they allow users to filter for destinations by its “activity” (or equivalent) category.

YELP FEATURE ANALYSIS

Our team continued our problem analysis by researching the Yelp app itself for an accurate understanding of its current features and how it could be modified to plan for travel.

Our findings determined that Yelp has the content & functionality to integrate filtering items based on activity & location, but it lacks a feature to organize entries chronologically.

"Yelp does not meet the planning needs of travelers, which leads to decreased satisfaction & unnecessary stress during travel."

AFFINITY MAPPING

Each team member interviewed several potential users of our feature to determine their habits, desires, and expectations while traveling.

We devised Affinity Maps from the interview and screener answers we received. The Affinity Maps revealed the travelers’ most important concerns during travel:

Affinity Map of interviews about travel habits
  • A flexible itinerary, which that allows users to easily schedule appointments
  • An ability to help users experience local culture
  • A map that identifies locations they’re interested in visiting
  • An ability to view photos

Once my team and I agreed on the conclusions of our research, we began planning our intended features for the app. 

ACT 2 - PLANNING THE PLANNER APP

SOLUTION STATEMENT

Taking the research information into account, our team and I decided to develop an itinerary schedule feature labeled “Trips” within Yelp’s currently existing architecture. We declared this intent with the following solution statement:

"Yelp’s new travel planning feature allows users to create a flexible itinerary comprised of businesses and event locals to your destination."

USER PROFILES

We used the information from the user interviews to devise two user profiles.

-Josh, The “Spontaneous Planner”. A mid-30s Creative Director that wants to travel more often, but he gets too busy to plan for it.

-Amelia, the “Frugal Explorer”. A mid-20s Marketing Assistant that loves to travel, as long as she can stay under her travel budget.

USER SCENARIO

My team and I devised the following user scenario for reference while designing our feature.

"On the first business trip to Rome, Josh ate at the first Italian restaurant he came across. Josh ended up getting sick from food poisoning for the rest of the trip. Josh is now planning his honeymoon in Paris and would like to discover recommended restaurants for his trip."

FEATURE PRIORITIZATION

Our team incorporated information from our comparative analysis and user research to determine which functions are essential for the app, which to implement if within the project's scope, and which to only add if necessary to improve the user experience. To prevent feature creep, we listed them as follows:

Essential Features

  • create a itinerary schedule
  • Record destinations you like to visit from Yelp listings into that specific itinerary
  • organize those destinations listing by time
  • add photos or view photos from other Yelp users
  • Map of the location surrounding the destination

Desirable Features

  • Ability to share itinerary / Access to contacts
  • Ability to "lock" entries to prevent overbooking
  • Show ‘related activities’

Optional Features

  • Find travel ‘buddies’ to explore with / get local expertise
  • Quick check-in and quick rating

SITE MAP

My team and I created a sitemap of Yelp’s current architecture to identify where and how our feature incorporates in Yelp’s mobile application.

Upon consensus, our team decided the best way to accomplish this to replace the “Delivery” tab at the bottom on the screen with our “Trip” tab. This alteration would allow the user to access our itinerary feature from any screen in the Yelp app.

"Yelp’s new travel planning feature allows users to create a flexible itinerary comprised of businesses and event locals to your destination."

USER FLOWS

My team and I also designed a user flow map to indicate the seven choices a user makes to access the feature's four functions.

The first of the two primary user flow paths begins with creating an itinerary by naming it, which you can then save.

Naming an itinerary allows three additional choices:

  • You can set the time duration for your trip.
  • Select Yelp listings to confirm locations to visit.
  • Confirm the time in the itinerary to visit the location.

You can also share saved itineraries with other Yelp users.

The second of the two primary user flow paths begins with selecting a Yelp listing to either add to an existing itinerary or create a new one.

SKETCHES (PAPER PROTOTYPE)

Yelp Trips paper sketches

Overall, the team and I were pleased with the features we developed for the Yelp app. However, there were other features that we did not include because it was either beyond our scope or resources. There are listed as follows.

 1. Calendar support for the Schedule Tab 

The first feature would be for the Schedule Tab to support "List" and "Calendar" views, similar to the options provided by Google Calendar.

 2. Alert pop-ups 

The second feature would be for pop-ups to remind users of itinerary appointments and other important notifications.

3. Custom Activities

The third feature would let users create custom activities in the itinerary.

4. Route Mapping
The fourth feature would utilize Google Map to provide the route-mapping capability.
5. World Map View 
The fifth feature would record all your itinerary activities on a World Map,  of all trips you’ve ever taken. A living record of all your travels
ACT 3 - TRIPPING OVER TRIP PROTOTYPES

 PROTOTYPE TESTING (A DESIGN PROBLEM REVEALED)

Our paper prototype tests revealed a significant problem we did not previously consider:

there was currently no way for a user to reach both the destinations listings and the itinerary account from any screen in the Yelp Trip tab. It became such a problem that we questioned if we could fit this feature into Yelp's current architecture. 

OTHER PROBLEMS

The testing results also revealed that the function for locking itinerary items in place would be more detrimental than beneficial for the user.

Lastly, the paper prototype testing participants indicated that they would like to see a reminder pop-up for the items on their itinerary.

 
"Our paper prototype tests revealed a significant problem we did not previously consider: there was currently no way for a user to reach both the destinations listings and the itinerary account from any screen in the Yelp Trip tab."

 RESOLVING PAIN POINTS

My team and I research various apps in an attempt to solve our biggest problem: how can we give users the ability to navigate to both the itinerary screen and available listing page from any point in the Yelp app?

Initially, we considered creating an auxiliary “Yelps Trips” app to accommodate our feature (Yelp Trips would relate to Yelp as LinkedIn Jobs relates to LinkedIn).

Ultimately, we discovered a breakthrough answer: placing universal navigation buttons in the header of the "Trips" app. These buttons could be used to direct the user to either the itinerary screen or the browse listing screens.


Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home1/wafzeg0aas3g/public_html/wp-content/themes/pinnacle_premium/lib/build_slider.php on line 21

To address our other developments issues, we decide to not develop the “locking itinerary items” functions of the app, removing it as a desirable feature. Also, we removed functionality to find buddies to travel with, as it was outside our project's scope.

Alternatively, we realized the check-in pop-ups would be extremely beneficial for the user, turning that optional feature into an essential one.

Upon agreeing on the features to design, we immediately began developing our high-fidelity prototype.

ACT 4 - DEVELOPING THE DESIGNS

HIGH-FIDELITY PROTOTYPE

TESTING THE PROTOTYPE

We had several participants use InVision to test our high-fidelity prototype (with the prioritized features included). The test revealed the following points.

 

“I want to specify the location as I’m making the trip.”

One of the testers remarked on the inability to confirm a location when a trip a created. We eventually added that functionality to eliminate to streamline the itinerary creation.

“Do i have to enter the time?”

Specifying a time is not necessary to confirm itinerary appointments, but a tester incorrectly assumed otherwise. To clarify that this detail is optional, we added a "Specify Time?" time button on this screen. Clicking this button enables options for time confirmation.

 

EPILOGUE - FUTURE FEATURES

FEATURES FOR YELP TRIPS  2.0

Overall, the team and I were pleased with the features we developed for the Yelp app. However, there were other features that we did not include because it was either beyond our scope or resources. There are listed as follows.

 1. Calendar support for the Schedule Tab 

The first feature would be for the Schedule Tab to support "List" and "Calendar" views, similar to the options provided by Google Calendar.

 2. Alert pop-ups 

The second feature would be for pop-ups to remind users of itinerary appointments and other important notifications.

3. Custom Activities

The third feature would let users create custom activities in the itinerary.

4. Route Mapping
The fourth feature would utilize Google Map to provide the route-mapping capability.
5. World Map View 
The fifth feature would record all your itinerary activities on a World Map,  of all trips you’ve ever taken. A living record of all your travels