Collaboration with Kevin Kan (Industrial Design) and Jennifer Tran(HCI). Fall 2012, 16 weeks.

Traveling has become a major part of our lives. With new technology and more efficient means of transportation going to new places has never been easier, but with more opportunities comes new stresses and challenges: who’s going to plan the trip? Am I getting the most out of this new place? Where are the locals going right now?

Our Team wanted to create an app that gave people the tools to get a better understanding of their surroundings, make plans as a group, and go out and experience a city with confidence. The app is not designed for people to make plans ahead of time– it was designed so that groups of friends could make decisions on the spot, and discuss their options quickly and easily. In designing this product, my team asked ourselves: How can we leverage mobile technology to help people travel better and more spontaneously?


In thinking about how people travel and interact with new cities, we were inspired by Eric Fischer’s beautiful work, Locals and Tourists


Download full report here


Make tool research

Our team based our design decisions on user-research. We created ‘make tools’ to discover what traveling was really about, and what made or ruined a trip.

What’s a make tool?

Make tools are creative exercises which allow users to tell stories without a traditional survey and interview structure. participants made artifacts (collages + journals) which then guided a follow-up interview.

  • We asked People to create collages which tell stories about travel experiences abroad and closer to home. We focused on the emotions associated with those stories, and the things that made them possible.
  • We also gave journals to four individuals traveling to Chicago for a weekend and asked them to journal their experiences and emotions four times a day.
make tool collages

Make tool findings

make tool


We created an affinity diagram from our user-research data, looking for patterns and similarities. Once we had a good understanding of our user needs, we developed a concept map and created storyboards for different scenarios our solution would address.

affinity diagram
user experience map
concept map

storyboards and mockups

storyboard outlining heat map concept


early paper prototypes
low fidelity mockups
medium fidelity mockups


final solution

high fidelity mockups



  • A profile for each user so the application can identify multiple users and sync them together
  •  The ability to add multiple users’ preferences onto one map
  • An image board users can quickly flip through to see what they want to do
  • A heat map that will give users the opportunity to explore an area, instead of putting them on a straight path.  A time slider feature that will allow users to evaluate the activity level of a neighborhood or area and any time of day
  • Large, interactive displays that users can interact with while traveling
  • A toggle screen that will allow users to filter the heat map settings by personal preference tab that will allow users to quickly view their location on the map


concept video


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