Toni Zhang

Spots

Tools: Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flinto, InVision
Timeline: 06/2018 - present
Role: Product Designer
This product is designed by me for a stealth startup.

Concept

Spots is a travel experience sharing and trip planning website. The fun places our travelers visited are visualized as “spots” on the map.  They can be easily arranged and connected to a route rather than single points of interest. “Spots” are not limited to places to visit, but also include restaurants, events, and experiences. Users can collect individual “spots” from other people’s sharing and plan their own trip. Spots support multi-media content and cross-platform sharing. Sharing or planning a trip has never been so easy.

Problem

There are many travel management products on the market. Most of them fall into two types of products: forums (like TripAdvisor) and social media (like Instagram, Red). Forums are very focused and usually provide high-quality articles written by experienced travelers. They even offer marketplaces for booking hotels, flights, and events. But t edit down and write an article is a lot of work. Forums don’t usually work well with maps and photo/video editing. A forum can only attract a limited amount of readers for its specific topic.Social media is more accessible to all kinds of users. It’s extremely easy to post anything, photos, videos, gifs, texts, locations, tag a friend. And it’s also easy to get a lot of attention in a short period of time. But social media has a broad range of contents, meaning it has nearly no focus. The quality of the posts can be quite different.  Everything comes and goes in a flash and we won’t spend a lot of time and effort diving into reading, writing, and thinking over something. Besides, social media usually has a length limit for each post.

Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash
Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find something in between these two types. Our travel lovers either have to go through a long process on a forum to complete a post and let it sit there waiting for someone to read or shoot a 150 words post on social media and let it flash away in a second. Yet the demand for travel sharing is rising. The market is calling for a trip sharing and planning product that provides high-quality contents and is easy to use. It’s almost urgent to build a product that has the strengths of traditional trip sharing apps while minimizes their disadvantages.

User research and analysis

User interview

We recruited several candidates and completed three interviews. Questions asked include but not limited to: “what platforms have you used for editing and sharing your experiences? What are some advantages and disadvantages of them? Do you think you get enough sharing, attention or following? What is your goal of sharing your experience, making money or keeping a hobby? We are designing a new travel experience sharing app. What feature are you most looking for?” We collected a lot of interesting and meaningful findings from the interviews. Here are some brief take-outs. (Read more)

Persona

Based on the interviews and user analysis we identified our potential users by sketching out their demographic, goals, needs, and behaviors. We clustered our users into two buckets and created one persona for each. The first persona represents the primary users for whom we are mostly designing this product for - users sharing their trips. Their needs are the focus of our design. The second persona represents users who use the app to view others posts and may plan their trips based on them. We will satisfy them when we can.

persona
Photo by Cade Roberts on Unsplash
persona
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Information architecture

user story

To define the structure, I mapped out User Stories and found out minimum requirements for the product. Depending on their goals, users can be grouped into 3 types: users who want to share trips, users who want to see others trips, and users who want to plan their new trips. Then they could be divided into smaller groups according to their behavior and needs.

user story

site map

I used a flowchart diagram that explain the series of steps a user takes to achieve a goal, including start, steps, and paths.

site map flow

wireframe and first prototype

I translated written matter into visual layout. Although it’s low fidelity sketch, it has contents and copy. I make four iterations of the structure and finally made it satisfiable for all tasks users want to complete. The first prototype reflects the current user flow.

site map flow
Click here to view the First prototype on InVision.

Execution: design

Interface design

interface web design

User testing plan

Insight

To design a site map that allows users to post anything, starting from anywhere, and at any time is the biggest challenge. Folding or hiding functions in a compressed menu will confuse our users. But giving access to all tasks on every single page will overwhelm users and ruin the simplicity of the interface. I make several iterations of the flow and the site map. The final version gives access to main pages and has quick links to start a post at any time. Users can easily figure out how to get what they want while not be overwhelmed by too much information. Spots will be firstly launched as a trip sharing app. We are currently working on the trip planning feature and later it will support flight and hotel booking and other commercial opportunities. We are also working on a customized map which supports smart recommendations. For example, if our user marks two spots on the map, one before lunchtime and the other after, the map will recommend lunch place along the way.

Back to Works

I'm open to new opportunities. Feel free to reach out or simply say hi.