Jan 2022 - Apr 2022 | Mentorship Project with Dialexa EDU | UX Research & Design
Dallas is a vibrant and diversely populated metropolis. But for most of the residents, its just the IT hub with not much fun to do. People aren't aware of Dallas' rich culture and history. My team and I aimed to address this problem by creating a solution that guides users through the city of Dallas using an interactive scavenger hunt.
Our team approached this from business, engineering and design perspective. As a designer, I was responsible for the end-to-end product development from preliminary research to hi-fidelity designs.
Interactive Story Telling and Guide to Dallas
Suggest diverse small businesses
Educate on Dallas' history
Gamification to maximize interaction
Social aspect to help users find people in Dallas with similar interests
First, we aimed to find the source of the problem. After conducting surveys, and interviewing some candidates, we consolidated all the information into an empathy map. We realized people were simply unaware of how to explore Dallas or they have no interest in understanding Dallas’ history. Hence, many conclude that Dallas is boring.
Reviewing insights from our research and personas, it was clear to us that we needed to design something like a travel app. However, we need to go beyond that to keep users engaged, make users want to come back, and teach history in an innovative way. After repeatedly hearing that Dallas is boring, we realized we needed to include external ways of gratification. Hence, we decided that gamification will be the core aspect of our app and generated three main features.
This is a basic function of the app: a map and a search feature. We also decided to add search filters/tags to prompt users to consider small businesses (like “black owned businesses”) and "hidden gems" of this city. This function accomplishes the goal of showing users the vibrant and diverse culture of Dallas
AR Scavenger Hunt
One of our main concerns was how to educate people about Dallas without it being boring. Hence, the AR Scavenger Hunt is the innovative gamification that allows users to virtually experience history. Users begin by selecting a location, and as they explore, they have to find clues (historical facts about the place). They can also point their phone camera at a building to see its historical view (AR aspect).
This is the aspect that makes users want to come back to our app. While most travel apps are single use, our solution focuses on creating a community of people who are interested in exploring Dallas. Users can create their own profile, connect with their friends, and compete to earn badges upon completion of the scavenger hunt.
We wanted the app's brand personality to be elegant, approachable and simple. Especially because our users consider Dallas boring, we have to design in a way that makes them curious.
D-Tour expands to Dallas Tour but it also sounds like Detour to echo the message that the search never ends: at a dead end, or a detour, you are bound to find something wonderful at Dallas.
First, we created our style guide and got inspiration from Dallas' landscape. In designing, we tried to find the balance between familiarity and creativity. We explored many layouts and tried to make the designs appealing and unique, but we also kept some standard layouts that people are used to. For example, our home screen is a map and a search bar: this is similar to the google maps layout to help the user feel familiar and comfortable
Then we created a functional prototype by carefully considering the users' intent and actions. This process was very iterative and we consistently got feedback from peers and mentors to revise the details and present the features well.
Our approach to solving this problem included the classic UX journey - personas, current state journey map to understand pain points and improvement, competitive analysis, and feature finalization. But this wasn’t enough - to get a creative solution, we all agreed to read about travel apps and pitch one idea everyday. We also did many fun group activities and that allowed us to become more comfortable with each other to be able to boldly reject ideas and suggest improvements. It’s a result of this holistic process and true teamwork that we came up with an innovative solution
Insights & Reflection
I really enjoyed this experience as it was my first time working to solve a real-world problem with a team. There were days where I would work for hours together revising designs and didn't even feel like stopping. I felt a strong desire to make it perfect and give my best as it was our own product. There were definitely days where I faced so many challenges like unable to decide on a design but my mentors at Dialexa were really helpful in guiding me, providing resources, and supporting me throughout.