Lonely Planet’s Redesign: A UX Case Study
We created a new feature on Lonely Planet that would help travelers be aware of the current COVID news, travel guidelines, and requirements so they could make informed traveling decisions.
CASE STUDY BRIEF
Lonely Planet is a travel guidebook publisher since 1972 that informs and inspires young travelers from experts who have visited every destination. Despite its stability and perseverance through the years lonely planet’s business has been negatively affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s role was to help Lonely Planet create a digital tool by using a human-centered design process that would continue to inspire and motivate young travelers who have been affected by the pandemic.
Through user interviews and research, our design challenge was to create a mobile-first responsive site that would enable the user to be able to access the website through their laptop and equally accommodate them while using their portable devices on the go.
User Interviews, Affinity Map, Task Analysis, User Persona, Problem Statement, User Flow, Journey Map, Sketches, Low-High Fidelity Wireframes, Usability Test, Prototype
The team was made up of three incredible and talented UX Designers; Caroline McQuillan, Kate Fazio, and me. We each used our strengths in UX to solve the presented problem. Caroline was in charge of Visual Design, Kate Interaction Design and I was in charge of the Research. My role as the lead UX researcher was to make sure we conducted the right research to uncover user behaviors, needs, and motivations so we could design a product that would solve their problem/s. I was also involved in sketching, low-high fidelity wireframing, and creating a clickable prototype in Figma.
DISCOVERY AND RESEARCH
To ensure that we got relevant results from the interviews we compiled a list of questions associated with traveling during the pandemic which we used on Lonely Planet’s target users that would give us insight into their emotions and needs and further help us in discovering and understanding their behaviors and problems. We conducted a total of 11 interviews via zoom of a mix of men and women between the ages of 18–35. I was in charge of conducting five of the interviews.
WHAT WE LEARNED THROUGH AFFINITY MAPPING
80% of travelers had to either postpone or change their traveling plans due to the pandemic.
100% of travelers were affected because of the pandemic.
Travelers were frustrated due to the lack of COVID-19 information on the website.
We learned that most of the travelers had had enough of the pandemic’s restrictions on traveling and they were going to travel and book tours or experiences regardless of the current situation however they just wanted to be informed and have up-to-date news on COVID-19.
Travelers wanted to see reviews from people who have traveled during the pandemic and how their experiences were and if they had any tips and tricks or any advice that was relevant.
“When I’m traveling, I look for reliable platforms that are well informed that can keep me updated on COVID news.”
“It’s frustrating how traveling requirements and country entry guidelines can change at any minute and I’m always scared I will not be able to accommodate that change.”
“My traveling priorities are safety and being well prepared.”
“it’s annoying how my traveling plans can be affected because different websites have conflicting information on covid.”
“I want to be aware of the different COVID guidelines and requirements while traveling so I can protect myself.”
“I scared of traveling to certain countries because of their limited COVID regulations.”
Through the information and insight gathered from the affinity mapping, we realized that even though Danielle felt socially isolated and was frustrated due to COVID-19 restrictions on traveling her biggest pain point was the lack of COVID-19 news on Lonely Planet’s website.
Our objective was to redesign Lonely Planet by creating a responsive site with features that would keep Danielle and Lonely Planet’s users informed on the different traveling rules and regulations of every country and have up to date information on COVID news before they could book an experience or a tour on the site.
The task was for the user to find COVID-19 travel guidelines for Tokyo, Japan. It took them 9 minutes to be able to find the information on Lonely Planet. As you can see below, we compared the journey to Airbnb’s, and on the website, it was only 1.5 minutes however the information was not located on the website, they had to be redirected to a different site to be able to view that information.
This process allowed us to visually tell a story of Danielle’s journey of looking for COVID-19 information on Lonely Planet. We were able to map out her different touchpoints which allowed us to gain more insight into her pain points.
To indicate the path that Danielle would take while having the redesigned Lonely Planet site idea in mind, we create this step-by-step visualized path of how she would complete that task.
HOW MIGHT WE
INSIGHTS FROM USABILITY TESTING
The first page was confusing. There was no context when the page was opened
Counter-intuitive button colors
Users were confused by methods of finding destinations
WHAT THE SECOND ROUND OF USABILITY TESTING YIELDED
The second round of usability testing was to make sure the mistakes caught in the 1st testing were resolved and to make sure the hi-fi prototype is intuitive enough and not confusing for the user.
Add guidelines for regions, states, cities
Create a handbook for vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers
Design for tablet and desktop
Reimagine/revive the Thorn Tree forum — more robust social connection
Refine interactions — shorten the distance to the watchlist from a destination page
Allow the user to set location-specific notifications
Explore desire for saving events, itinerary
1. Users exploring the world from home”
2. Test user mental model for closing/opening multiple accordions
3. Test fixed header on country pages
4. Featured articles — most recent? By keyword? Shared by users?