Go where the adventure takes you…
Mahalo is a startup based in Hawaii attempting to reinvent the expedition and guide travel industry. The founders wanted to disrupt the travel industry by providing an easy-to-use method for adventurers to discover, book and manage their experience. The core goals of the project were to establish a mobile-first application design that would provide the foundational means to build the business on and that would allow customers the ability to discover, fulfill and manage their experience.
My role was to provide product strategy, user research, user-centered design, creative direction and overall visual design.
Much like AirBnB this application would have to account for a lot of content. The content would start at the local level and delivered based on the users mobile devices location, however, we wanted them to have the ability to search anywhere in the country and worldwide eventually.
The key challenge here was to design a system that could support all the required content in a way that was unobtrusive and would scale as guided experiences were added and more customers gained access.
Understanding User Needs
We performed qualitative interviews with prospective customers to understand the specific needs when discovering and interacting with guide experiences. We spent two weeks performing in-depth qualitative interviews with folks to understand the motivations and desires surrounding travelers and guides alike. We collected artifacts that helped to paint a visual image of this space and dug-in deep to analyze the insights gathered. From here we established four key personas to help guide design decisions down-stream.
Once we had a good understanding of our target audience needs we created several flow maps that would help to define how users would interact with the system. These flow diagrams were then used to help define the overall screen states and to help the development team begin to bake in some of the required interaction capabilities.
As almost all of my projects, sketching was done early on to iron out some of the concepts and ideas. Sketching allowed the team to present ideas early to the stakeholders to get alignment on the overall direction and interaction behavior.
Visual Design & Styling
Since we weren’t performing the heavy development work it was important to provide design specifications that could be easily handed off and that ensured consistency throughout the application. The core development was going to be handled off-shore so it was important to have detailed design specs to ensure the design translated correctly.
Full designs were used for prototype testing as well as delivery to development for full production. The team felt confident based on preliminary testing results that our information architecture was sound and that as more-and-more content was added to the system the application would be able to scale effectively minimizing the impact on the user experience.
The overall goal was to provide an easy way for customers to discovery guided opportunities, while also providing guides a seamless way to manage and interact with their customers. The initiative was ambitious but we new if we could provide a design system that provided flexibility and ability to scale as more and more guides and customers came online we would achieve our goals.