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Project Background


NPS prototype animated GIF

The Boston National Historical Park is an association of sites that showcase Boston's role in the American Revolution. The sites are connected by the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail, a walking tour of downtown Boston. More than 3 million visitors walk the Freedom Trail each year.

The National Park Service of Boston currently has a native mobile app that provides information about the historical sites, available tours, and maps of the park areas, but it does not provide a way for groups of people to plan a visit to the Freedom Trail, especially if those groups only want to visit certain locations, or need to coordinate meeting times amongst each other.

Timeline

Client

Goal

Tools Used

2 weeks

National Park Service of Boston

Provide a way for groups of people to coordinate a tour of their choosing

Axure, Sketch, InVision, Miro, Trello

Project Overview


Summary

Over the course of two weeks, our team was tasked with adding a feature to the Boston National Park Service iOS mobile application that allows more flexibility for groups who wanted to explore the Freedom Trail.

My Role

Working as part of a four-person team, my role was first and foremost to facilitate time management and keep our assets and deliverables organized. I also mapped out the existing site’s information architecture, and then altered and polished that architecture by incorporating the features we were building. Lastly, I created a clickable prototype from the completed visual designs.

Problem Statement

Users want a way to easily book tours with specific specifications, such as tour type, time, length, group size, and cost in advance or same day for one or more people.

Design Process


Competitive Analysis

Over the first several days of the project, the researchers looked into the direct (and indirect) "competitors." However, the NPS Boston app does not have any tours that require payment, and therefore is not in direct competition with anyone. There are competitors, such as an official freedom trail tour, however, it costs money and offers more in-depth information and comprehensive audio tours than the NPS Boston app.

competitor logos

We also looked into the mobile booking aspects for Expedia, Go City Card, GPSmyCity, and AirBnB, in order to garner ideas about the ways people book things to do online.

User Research

Our user research consisted of four steps:

Recruitment

Screeners

Questions

Interviews

Online, in-person

10

12

6

User Interviews

In order to determine individuals to include within our user research, we created a preliminary survey to find individuals that had formerly organized group trips, as this was our target audience for the new feature within the application.  After going through ten responses, we selected six users to connect with and interview.

Synthesizing Findings

Project 3 Affinity Map

We were able to gather some very valuable feedback which we then analysed through affinity mapping. The main points that we needed to address within our design were:

  • I have specific booking needs (duration, price, time, sites)
  • I prefer different types of tours (guided versus self-guided)

Our findings also revealed some pain points:

  • ability to share tour times and itineraries was lacking, therefore making it more difficult to coordinate times and locations with others
  • not able to save sites of interest so that they could be used to create a self-guided tour without having to search for them again
What I would like to know about a specific tour would be the timeline of the tour with the costs of the tour... I don't want to pay an arm and a leg, especially because I may or may not like it.- Research Participant

Stepping Into The Users’ Shoes

From our findings, we created the proto-persona of Dan. Doing so allowed us to keep the user at the center of the design process, ensuring we met his goals. We created a scenario in order to frame the problem and focus on the user needs as we moved forward.

proto-persona

Ideating

Design Workshops

Conducting three rounds of design workshops, we explored some ideas for the scenarios to refine what should be included in our MVP. This also helped us visualize the navigation and elements in the existing interface that were not working and develop our new information architecture.

design studio sketches
paper prototypes
User Flows

From the design workshops, we created a wireflow. We developed this into a paper prototype, conducting usability tests, iterating and testing. We discovered that some of our initial language choices were confusing, and we were able to adjust and re-test.

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

We then developed a mid-fidelity digital prototype, conducting further usability tests and refining the design before moving it into a high-fidelity mockup.

low fidelity prototype
high fidelity prototypes
High-Fidelity Prototype

Usability testing on the high-fidelity mockup showed that our initial color choices on the calendar where users choose the date they want to take a tour were confusing. Altering these colors made it more clear to users which dates were available. We also adjusted the information architecture to make the ability to save custom tours more easily accessible and understandable.

Conclusion


The new design of the app provides users with the ability to:

  • Plan a self-guided tour for a group of people that allows users to visit any or all of the sites on the tour in the order and time-frame they prefer
  • Share maps and itineraries with group members to facilitate time and location coordination

Outcome

The redesigned National Park Service app was received very positively by users. Users stated the app was not only simple and easy to navigate, but helped them feel more confident in being able to plan an outing with others.

V2 and Reflections

Moving forward, we can envision future iterations of the National Park Service app including:

  • GPS integration
  • more visual maps for people who are not local
  • additional languages for people from other countries
  • being able to share location information more accurately
  • creating a guest option for people who don’t want to make an account
  • include estimated duration of the each site on the tour

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