UX Design Team: Luna, Alicia, and Niki
The Curtain Hotel, sister of the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel, New York, is a 5 star hotel in Shoreditch, London with its own private members’ club. The guests and members of The Curtain hotel come from a variety of different creative communities and industries.
As part of our third project at General Assembly in London, my team and I were given a brief to create an imagined mobile app for The Curtain Hotel in the course of two weeks. The opportunity here, was to create a mobile app to allow travelers to plan and book local experiences based on their interests. General Assembly provided us with a brief asking us to focus on the following features:
- Browsing and booking local experiences
- Messaging and chat function
- Ability to reschedule bookings
- Rating and sharing the experience on social media
As a first step, we wanted to get an idea of how the Curtain Hotel guests and users are currently finding and booking local experiences and how they are using the hotel’s services. We quickly learned that our target audience is older than we initially assumed, and for the most part, they were busy professionals mixing business and pleasure. Additionally, the hotel didn’t actively aid guests in finding quality experiences outside of the hotel.
To understand our competition and landscape better, we conducted a competitive analysis with a few competitors in London. We found that in most mobile apps or hotel websites, users are not able to contact the hotel to learn more about local experiences or see reviews on the majority of websites. However, in most cases, users are able to select experiences based on their personal interests however most options are popular tourist sites.
To kick off our user research, we conducted user interviews with the aim of speaking to both business and leisure travelers in order to get a better understanding of both types of travelers’ goals and painpoints.
After synthesizing all our interview findings into an affinity map, the common themes we saw emerging were:
- Business travelers book extra days off after their trip in order to have time for cultural experiences
- Trusting other tourist recommendations on common travel sites was an issue for a lot of our users
- Sense of discovery and spontaneity users wanted to feel in a new place
- Almost all travelers want to experience the local life in one way or another
- Travelers prefer to research experiences but not book anything, unless it is an event requiring prior booking
Based on our user interviews and the research gathered, we created our persona, Ella, to help us create an optimal experience for our target users.
User goal: Ella is looking for authentic and memorable experiences for her stay with reliable recommendations.
Using the app, Ella searches for a restaurant nearby with reliable recommendations from the Curtain Hotel club members. She finds a suitable one and books it.
To help us visualize and understand our target users’ attitudes and behaviors, we charted what Ella is thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing when she is trying to find a suitable restaurant based on her taste. Charting an empathy map helped us fill any gaps in our knowledge and understanding of our users.
To further understand the whole user experience before the user reaches the mobile app, we created an user journey map to consider what Ella is doing and feeling two months before the trip and in the time after.
We understood how Ella would build up expectations before a trip, by reading hotel information looking at photos, or some reviews. She would then feel disappointed if it does not meet her expectations because she did not have a realistic idea of the experience.
Defining the problem
After a series of crazy 8s, we decided to mix and match some of our favorite ideas into several features, but even then we had so many features for an initial MVP.
To narrow it down to the most essential features, we conducted a feature prioritization using the 2×2 matrix, rating features based on necessity and effort.
Based on our user research and interviews, we prioritized the below features:
- Direct contact feature with the hotel concierge to provide quality customer service from wherever the guest is
- Curated and personalized content so users can trust the recommendations
- Recommendations categorized by interest so they can find intuitively what suits them
Based on our user flow, we sketched out some initial screens on paper to test out with some users and get a sense of what works well and what doesn’t.
From testing the paper prototype, we learned the following:
- The selection of the restaurants was confusing as users did not have sufficient information to understand why there were only 10 recommendations.
- The chat section was understood, however, users assumed they were speaking to a chatbot.
- The booking process was misleading to users as they felt the booking had been completed, but had no confirmation.
We conducted an open and closed card sort to ensure the categories we chose on the homepage for the different experiences were clear to the users.
Following our paper prototype testing and iteration, we went to Sketch to start drawing the low fidelity digital prototypes for testing. We did three rounds of iterations and testing of our digital prototypes.
From the first round of testing, we learned that users wanted to be able to see more information about the restaurant before making a booking such as menu items, price point and availability; and, users wanted a confirmation of the cancellation before it actually happened.
Second Testing Insights
After making the updates, we went to usability testing with different users and learned that the users:
- Could not see their reservation on “my bookings” as it was pending.
- Felt disappointed that their booking had not been confirmed straightaway.
- Assumed that the reason they were only seeing 10 restaurants was that they were sponsored by the hotel.
- Assumed the chat page was an automated service.
Below are some of the updates we made based on our usability tests.
Restaurant screen iterations
Drawing inspiration from and keeping consistency with the current branding of the Curtain Hotel, we put together a mood board and style guide to help us in moving towards our high fidelity mockups.
Prototype on Invision
My team and I really enjoyed working on this project, and would have developed it further with more time. We were particularly interested in potentially connecting the hotel’s services with the app so that guests could also enjoy their experience inside the hotel. Additionally, we would have liked to explore creating a platform specifically for the hotel club members to feed into the experiences and recommendations for the guests.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts 🙂