10 weeks (Fall 2019)

Zeit, a travel tourism business, is ready to launch after years of development. Specializing in time travel, Zeit provides its customers with travel packages and experiences across 289 approved times throughout history.

UX Designer
Project Manager

User Research
UX Design
Brand Design

The challenge

Here's the thing: time travel is totally new territory.  

So, what's the challenge at hand? For a successful launch, Zeit needs a website that allows them to communicate their unique offering, offer reassurance about the travel concept, and sell trips to customers. Zeit also needs to stand out from the crowd with an imaginative brand identity.

The solution

As the new kid on the block, Zeit needs a responsive, e-commerce website that offers plenty of social proof, and a brand identity that conveys a sense of safety and trust.

View the prototype

01. Research

Exploring the landscape

While time travel is new territory, the travel and tourism industry is not. I started this project on a mission to better understand where, how, when, and why travelers book the trips that they book - including the activities they participate in while traveling - so that I could effectively create a solution for them with Zeit. To reach this goal, I asked some of the following questions:

  1. Why do people book the trips that they book? (In terms of personal, business, vacation, etc)
  2. What are must-haves when it comes to booking a trip online?
  3. How do travelers determine what they will be doing before they embark on a trip?
  4. To what extent are travelers willing to embrace their unknown before a trip/experience?

In an effort to answer these questions, I conducted a competitive analysis, crafted several provisional personas, and assessed industry trends to understand what kinds of information travel tourism companies provide to their customers at each step of the exploration and booking processes.

I also conducted several 1-on-1 user interviews to collect qualitative and quantitative data on experiences with booking travels/vacations. My goal was to learn why they travel where they travel, how they book trips, and to learn what the booking experience is like. Four interviews were conducted in total, and participants ranged in ages between 28 and 67.

View the interview guide

Interview SUMMARY

Booking travels/trips is a disjointed experience - none of the four participants I interviewed booked their flight, lodging, and activities at or near the same time.

Three of the four participants stated that they hear about trips and experiences through friends, which leads them to end up booking the travel experiences that they do. This indicates that social proof is an important factor in determining the participant’s next location of travel.

Travelers want to feel immersed in the culture while traveling, unless that leads to something inconvenient unexpected (logistically), but travelers also appreciate positive surprises specific to those locations while on trips.

Cost is an important factor when booking a travel experience, so travel costs need to be affordable.

All four participants noted culinary experiences as something they want to accomplish while on their vacation.

Persona development

After synthesizing all of our research findings, I wanted to develop a persona so that I could refer some of the potential design decisions back to this research-backed figure, making sure the choices I made aligned with the research I'd conducted.

02. define

Outlining the product

The research I'd conducted so far informed me on how to develop a persona, but before I could design, I needed to have a plan. I conducted a card sorting exercise with multiple participants, asking them to categorize different types of trips and experiences through time into whatever categories made sense to them.

View the card sorting results

With the results from the card sorting exercise, I was able to begin laying out the navigation and site structure into a tangible sitemap. To refer the sitemap and card sort results back to my previous research, I built out user and task flows to make sure I was staying true to the results of my research and Robbie's persona.

With a sitemap in place, I was able to put my mind in the shoes of the individual booking the trip (via the persona, Robbie) and begin to understand what their flow might look like. During this process, I also developed a more robust user flow to identify the different avenues someone might take to book a vacation.

View the user flow

Using these blueprints, I developed a UI requirements document based on a couple of potential user tasks so that I could further map out what types of features and content needed to exist on each page.

View the UI requirements

03. create

Let's get visual

After sketching multiple variations of landing pages, a few basic concepts emerged. These different layout options were generated after researching both other tourism companies as well as general layouts found on a variety of e-commerce industries (retail, etc).

Brand Identity

I had my wireframes. It was time to build a brand so that once my wireframes proved to be functional, I could make sure my designs adhered to the brand guidelines.

Starting with a few defining brand attributes, I conceptualized some logo ideas, trying to keep in mind scalability and sustainability both in terms of the design itself as well as the business and its potential growth.

After getting feedback from stakeholders on the logo variations and iterating on a single chosen logo concept, I selected a color palette, typography, image treatments, and created a brand style tile.

View the brand style tile

Before I could move towards high-fidelity mockups, I needed a few additional components, including a UI Kit. I wanted to make sure this developer handoff was smooth as could be.

This user interface kit went through a few iterations, making sure I identified all of the key components of the UI Design that would need to be referenced by a developer during the platform build.

04. iterate

Testing: 1, 2, 3

Using InVision, I conducted usability tests with four individuals on a set of mid-fidelity screens in order to observe how customers might begin navigating through the various booking channels within the site.

The results of these tests were synthesized into an and were then used, alongside the UI Kit, to update the mid-fidelity screens to high-fidelity designs.

View the usability test results

From there, these affinity map results were used, along with the UI Kit, to update the mid-fidelity screens to high-fidelity designs.

View the prototype

Next steps

I have a functional design. Great! However, to keep refining the product, I need to:

When it's time to do so, I'll ship the product, high-five the developers to celebrate our first deploy, and then I'll keep a close eye on how folks are engaging with the product so additional iterations can be made.

Findings & Reflections

From a research standpoint, I learned a ton from this project. Time travel doesn't exist (yet), but there are still ways to assess the landscape and questions that can be asked of prospective customers in order to determine what features will or won't be helpful.

Research's role in product design was abundantly clear during this project. If there isn't evidence to back up a decision, why are we doing it that way? 

Also, if time travel was really coming in 2020, Zeit very well may be the entry point into this business model for consumers, which means that we need to do it right. Traversing across decades and centuries is new and scary, and if we mess it up we could be demolishing an entire industry that hasn't been built yet.

© charlie weber 2021