MTA Wanderer App Design Research
How might we tap into a traveler's decision-making journey to amplify their travel experience?
People are likely to spend more money on travel, dining and fitness than ever before. For some, it’s the idea of leaving their world and their work behind. For others, perhaps it’s the stress of planning a vacation and creating a positively memorable experience for their family and their friends.
A 2015 survey report from New York University and the Family Travel Association reveals that the majority of travelers are cautious. These people are struggling to find meaningful information about where to go and what to do, and they are willing to travel, but will not do so without help. Interestingly, 85% of leisure travelers decide on activities only after having arrived at the destination, according to Think with Google.
Travel isn’t just about where you’re going. Travel is about what you’re going to be when you arrive. According to the NYC Department of Transportation, the annual number of tourists visiting NYC grew by 9.5 million to 58.3 million between 2010 and 2015, an increase of nearly 20%. The subway ridership keeps increasing despite the launch of ride sharing in New York. Subway ridership has grown an average of 2% to 1,763 millions/year since 2010, adding 159 million more annual riders by 2015. These numbers represent the scale of opportunity in the travel industry. However, existing NYC subway apps provide standard solutions and still many travelers have to switch back and from other apps such as Google Navigation and Yelp. The perfect travel experience is all about the details. Getting away shouldn’t be stressful or feel like work.
FINDINGS AND INSIGHTS
The initial research helped identify the motives and behavior of NYC travelers and enable them to have an amplified travel experience, going deeper than the “how” and the “where” and exploring “why” people travel. Supported by quantitative research, by hearing directly from the everyday traveler in NYC, insights about the importance of travel and their aspirations, motivations, and behaviors were developed.
Below are the survey findings from 55 respondents (age range from 18 to 44) in the Unites States. The majority of respondents most value a right combination of experiences at local favorite restaurants, cafes, hidden speakeasy bars and well-known tourist attractions for their trip to NYC. In order to experience travel the way they want, 73% of respondents choose to use travel assistant or planning/scheduling tools. A wide variety of tools used to plan a trip including tips from New York locals, Google Map, Yelp, Instagram, and travel site reviews including American Express, Kayak, and Trip Advisor. The majority of respondents tend to plan a trip route based on either neighborhoods or the subway line when they visit New York. While 48% of respondents prefer to use taxi/ridesharing apps to wonder the city, 52% of them said they would like to ride the MTA subway. Also, 58% of them say a mobile app visualized to curate trip plan including restaurants, cafes, tourist attractions, local events based on a user’s location nearby a MTA subway station beneficial for use.
Potential early stage solutions were formed during the primary/secondary research and quantitative/qualitative research: a visualized trip plan curation including restaurants, cafes, local events based on a user’s location nearby a subway station. Curated information will be organized based on entire user/local’s reviews. The majority of respondents tend to plan a trip route based on either neighborhoods or the subway line when they visit New York. While 52% of respondents prefer to use taxi/ridesharing apps to wonder the city, 48% of them said they would like to ride the MTA subway. Also, 58% of them say a mobile app visualized to curate trip plan including restaurants, cafes, tourist attractions, local events based on a user’s location nearby a MTA subway station beneficial for use. Moreover, a MTA circle recognition feature to easily find trip suggestions based on current subway line could be further validated through continuous research about their journey and user tests.
POTENTIAL USER INTERVIEWS
The interviewees were carefully selected to have a deeper understanding about target users of the app and think about their NYC trip experiences. All participants are active travel assistant app users and frequent travelers. Reflecting on the importance of the goal and its benefits determine how much effort and dedication the user will put into pursuing it. Here is the feedback gathered from the following three interviewees:
1. NM from Chicago. She is 27 years old and a consultant in marketing industry.
2. JW from China and lives in NYC. She is 28 years old and a motion designer in creative industry
3. BM from India. He is 22 years old and a 3D design student in Georgia.
Interviewees expressed their desire for a tool that coordinate their trip schedule and discover new great local stops, which will amplify their experiences in NYC, as they are prone to getting bored and losing enthusiasm. They need notifications to remind what are available “nearby” no matter where they are, sharing plans with friends and family, and have an automated reminder to actively stay on track. They would like to see reviews from other users, specifically New York locals. Building credence on suggested route and places that make them feel local increases the enjoyment throughout entire journey.
Interviewees imagined the potential solutions as a combination of Google Map and Yelp with the AR feature. The respondents enjoy planning but adventurous. Respondents supported incorporating the concept of gamification in a mobile planning app – a MTA circle recognition feature to easily find trip suggestions based on current subway line. However, if the process appears too time consuming or difficult to measure progress with, it becomes overwhelming and motivation is lost to complete the task. Being able to visualize and complete goals in small, actionable steps gives the user momentum toward using the app over and over.
Only having one route to get to the goal can be discouraging if users are afraid they might fail; features that allow the user to adapt and change directions mid-stream if plans change gives them the control and flexibility they want. In other words, having an automatically curated trip plan with lots of editability and filters is preferred. Incorporating multiple filters during the journey allows users to feel like they have more freedom and ownership of their trip instead of limitations. Only having one route to get to the goal can be discouraging if users are afraid they might fail; features that allow the user to adapt and change directions if plans change gives them the control and flexibility they want.
App features successful in helping users achieve their goals and complete tasks included sorting and categorizing content by color, being able to physically “check” off items from a list, reminders of tasks at a certain time or place, sharing plans and information with others, and a strategic UI with aesthetically advanced graphics.