Hello summer! This month our turn to user experiences that make their lives cool as a cucumber — from booking getaways, to hiking America’s great trails, to connecting with colleagues across the globe. What emerges is a theme of knowing thy user. These agree that understanding the needs and wants of a user creates seamless, natural experiences that people to tell their friends about.

Whether you’re planning to be the next Cheryl Strayed by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or you’re just looking to read the essential news as you commute into work, ’s app-based choices remind us that the trick to user experiences that stick is knowing what your users need, when they need it.

Doug Collins, UX engineer at E*TRADE

Pick: Hiking Project

Doug Collins.

I love to hike, but I hate hiking apps. Too often, excess functionality and data combine in a poor UX that makes finding and exploring new trails more grueling than the hike itself. Inexplicably, most hiking apps suffer the most when taken offline. When access to cloud data disappears, their functionality goes with it.

Enter Hiking Project, made by REI Co-op. From Andorra to Vietnam — and everywhere in between — Hiking Project has information on a staggering 38,936 trails, totaling 147,881 miles of trails all over the world.

A bottom-focused UI that is clean, clear, and intuitive is a big win for Hiking Project. More impressive than its layout, however, is the offline user testing that clearly went into its production.

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