Culture Trip is known for producing quirky, off the beaten path travel content. From 2019, not only did it continue producing excellent articles on city-focused travel, but it also began immersing itself into the world of bookable accommodation.
A dedicated 'Places to Stay' section for each city already existed in the IA on responsive web, and contained a mixture of articles. However, due to the product now offering the ability to purchase places to stay as well as simply read about them, this meant the page needed to serve a different purpose.
The Current Offering
User Needs – Previous 'Places to Stay' Research
Our in-house researcher conducted deep dive interviews with 18 participants to understand pain points, opportunity areas and understanding of planning needs around the places to stay section of the site. Important needs to come out of this study included:
- Availability: Show a date picker to filter out hotels with no availability.
- Current map: Show me a map with granular filters to narrow down my search. I also want to see things to do, eat, and drink nearby.
- Categorise articles: Create groups/themes for different types of accommodation I can read up on.
- Navigate via neighbourhoods: I want to look for places to stay in cool neighbourhoods I have researched.
- Curated hotels at the forefront: Accommodation which Culture Trip has curated will strengthen the brand.
- Prioritise items over articles: As this will help generate more revenue.
Journeys In & Out of the Places to Stay Page
After combing through user needs, I had mapped out the possible journeys users would be taking both to and from the Places to Stay page in order to understand what needed to live on the page, as well as thinking more holistically about circulating users round the product.
Ideation: Page Design, Categories and Filters
With the user needs discovered and journeys mapped, I then moved on to how articles, items and neighbourhoods were going to be structured harmoniously, as well as how users could narrow down using availability and filtering.
Throughout the project, I gathered valuable feedback from various disciplines by facilitating critique sessions. Designers, developers, product managers and members of the commercial sales team would gather for an open discussion around the design before taking what we collectively believed was our 'best shot' to user research.
Proposed Design & Rationale
User Research on Proposed Design
Prototypes for both desktop and mobile breakpoints were then tested with users. Key takeaways from this research included:
- Map & filter combination worked well for narrowing down options but map could be deeper
- The 'style' filter felt vague & confusing: 'type' was enough
- Separation of items and articles well understood
- Order of page felt appropriate
- Users questioned how to add 'number of adults' staying
Iterating on this, 'Style' was removed as a filter, and 'Select Dates' became 'Select Dates and Adults'. The design went into development and was firstly rolled out on 10 popular cities. Here is an example of it live (and still being iterated on!).
Next Steps & Involvement
Next steps: Add 'Close to' filter to satisfy finding things to do nearby.
Involvement: Lead designer until build phase, when this was passed over to Florencia Mangiantini to oversee. The initial 'Places to Stay' research to highlight user needs was carried out by Alan Vanstone.
Worked closely with the product manager, product marketing manager, data scientist and both front end and back end software engineers.