Making plans with friends can be a stressful experience. If only deciding what to do this weekend was as easy as picking a playlist! Dora aims to reduce uncertainty and promote collaboration with a playful, curated set of activities and places that lets users easily browse, share, and organize ideas.
I led the design phase of this project, spearheading ideation and prototyping, working with one other designer. I also created the visual design system, and participated in the initial user research and product scoping phases of the project.
Florian Janke — Designer / Developer
Aylin Saribudak — Researcher
Dianne Kim — Researcher
A. Fleming Seay — Project Advisor
People tend to put off planning in advance because it requires a lot of effort and time. If you're a planner like me, you've probably at some point found yourself with 50 tabs open while trying to figure out weekend plans.
It's a lot of work to gather information from multiple platforms to get a holistic idea of all the options that are out there, make the plan, and ask their friend for input. This entire process also makes it rather difficult to collaborate with friends to make plans in the first place, which once again results in the burden of planning and organizing to fall on one person.
For our competitive analysis, we looked at a variety of products that users typically use to plan trips, browse places of interest, or provide curated recommendations. The analysis made it clear that there was a gap in the market for an app like dora. AllTrails and the Nudge are well curated, but the former is only hiking-specific and the latter doesn't provide much autonomy for the user. The concept of our ideal product lies somewhere at the intersection between Google Maps, AllTrails, and the Nudge.
To understand how our potential users feel and further test out the validity of our hypothesis, we conducted generative interviews with 5 users and supplemented our findings with survey responses from 78 users. We created an affinity map in Miro to identify overlaps and commonalities in users' pain points and preferences.
Based on our research findings, we created a list of requirements to guide our design and ideation process. The requirements were separated into 'Must-Haves' and 'Nice-to-Haves' so that we could better prioritize our features and manage the scope of the project with our user's needs in mind.
Based on the requirements list compiled from the user interviews, our team created a list of features to include and keep in mind during the ideation phase. The team then split off and brainstormed ideas for a different set of features that solved the pain points we discovered. We reconvened for a virtual pin-up session to discuss our ideas, which helped to clarify which ideas we wanted to move forward with.
To guide our low-fi prototyping process, I created an information architecture flow diagram to drive consistency and better understand the relationships between different screens.
Using our information architecture diagram to guide us, each team member worked on screens for each separate tab. We created wireframes in Balsamiq to maintain visual consistency and ensure interactivity for testing.
Our prototype was tested with 7 participants in a moderated test, due to the prototype's limited functionality. The goal here was to evaluate whether users were able to understand the different functionalities of the app, as well as see our participants' initial reactions towards the product.
After our user tests, it was clear that the 'Ideas' tab caused confusion. We scrapped our idea of providing curated itineraries for users, focusing instead on helping users to create their own plans by providing recommendations for individual places/activities. These 'Plans' could then be shared with friends. This way, each tab has its own distinct purpose.
In our second round of testing, we used our medium fidelity prototype and conducted unmoderated tests through UserZoom with 8 participants. While users continued to react positively to the idea, even saying that it was a useful tool they would actually use, there was still confusion about two key aspects of the app. Users also wanted confirmation for their actions, which we made sure to include in the design system.
With a fun and playful design identity for Dora in mind, I created a design system to tie together the final prototype. Since Florian and I were creating our prototypes asynchronously due to remote learning, it was important that our prototypes maintain visual consistency. After I established the visual design system, we worked together to create design element components in Figma.
Collaboration was an element of Dora that was both well-received by users and also a feature we decided to prioritize as a team. We made a distinction between the action of 'collaborating', where friends can contribute and vote on ideas in a plan, and the less formal action of 'sharing', where users can share potential plans or ideas with friends.
From the very beginning, users were confused about the distinction between saving a place as a part of a plan, versus saving an individual location. In the final iteration I created an action button bar that included two separate flows for the two activities. A notification indicate where places are saved in their 'Profile' tab upon saving a new place, as users were unable to find where their saved items were located in previous tests.
To encourage non-planners to engage with places around them and provide inspiration for things to do, Dora features an engaging 'Discover' page that includes recommendations that regularly update. We also prioritized the map view within the search view, providing visual cues and imagery along the way to provide users with additional context about places. Based on our interviews, users prioritize knowing the hours and price range in the browsing process, so we chose to surface this information in both screens.
Hope you enjoyed following along on this journey. I appreciate you taking the time to check out my work ☺️