This was a problem that was posed in an article I read about hiring designers. The article argued that it served no purpose to continue to give potential hirers the task of designing a note taking app or alarm clock. These challenges were not fun. Instead it suggested that something more cutting edge and fantastical like the ticketing service on a Mars One flight.
Let’s be honest, that sounds really amazing. I was finishing up my previous project and thought this would be a great challenge when that was completed. Go check out the work I did with research into use habits on Automotive Dashboards, it is a great read.
Anyways, the problem is as follows: How would you design the ticketing process to go to Cretaceous Park with a mobile only approach?
The first revision of the prototype can be explored here. It has a couple hints and descriptions from when I tested it with potential users.
Extra Detail – Beginning the Process
I’ve been thinking of this problem and what I would do with it for a while now. What is the scope? What are the requirements?
- The site would accommodate beginning to end of the vacation / travel process
- Travel, housing, features and rides, and food would be addressed
- This project would be mobile only
The Big Assumption
We need to get this out of the way now. Part of this project is downright silly. A mobile first design to book a resort vacation? Who is actually doing this? Is this a market that needs addressing?
Now in a real world setting, this would be a perfect setting to perform formative research which I am knowingly not doing. My instinct is telling me, and the discussions I’ve had with other designers, that this is not a real problem or that the potential space is very small.
So why do this project?
Any answer, pattern, interaction, design that comes from this project answers a question that the process asks and requires to be successful within that initial scope. It is entirely possible that only a small portion of those answers will be immediately translatable to future work. But challenges exist for reasons and the experience of working though this project will provide long term benefits.
Finally, it is likely that there is a small group that would use this. It probably is not enough to justify the ROI in a company/agency but that doesn’t change the purpose for this work.
The Other Assumptions
- Use Cases: People are getting a feel for the process or planning to book
- Travel is in one chunk, one uniform arrive/leave date per process
The Very First Step
Research. I conducted a lot of research for this project. There was endless Competitive Analyses of not only resorts but other industries that could have a complex purchase path on mobile. I only found one site that was setup for a mobile response: Cars.com. But I should go back a bit, what exactly do I mean by Complex Purchase Path.
I view the Complex Purchase Path as some item or service that has numerous options available while going through the path. Some domains that fit this description: custom built computers, cars, and travel arrangements.
During research another designer told me about a complex path that existed on Medicare/Medicaid with regards to Mobile First methodologies. I was not able to personally verify this or research the experience.
But after research into these complex paths or other players in this space, can we talk about your designs.
Oh no. We’re not there yet. There was more research to be done. I read tons on form construction (Web Form Design by the amazing Luke Wroblewski) and other resources. I researched everything I could find about the different fields, flights and resorts. My first step outside of research was a spreadsheet with all the steps that would be needed, what information the step needed, how the steps should be ordered, concerns to watch out for. As I worked through what the process would be I began writing down more assumptions or questions that would need to be answered.
- What if only children register/go? Is this a concern that should be addressed? Think too of the context – Dinosaur Park? But they could be meeting relatives there?
- Do multiple booked hotel rooms need to be next to each other? And if so, how is this communicated or solved via interaction?
- Is a flight number really needed on airplane ticket purchase? (No.)
These questions can be logically solved but the best solution would be information straight from hotels and resorts. Or in the first scenario, have them call a representative of the resort. Push the edge cases to direct interaction?
There was a lot here to think about, to explore, with this project. One of the questions that I have asked myself as I have worked through this design was if there was too much content within the process? With other designers who tested this with me, it was a comment I heard a couple times but it doesn’t make it true or not.
One idea I considered was separating out a lot of the questions meant to build the experience and have it accompany the process via email updates or the like. This is, frankly, almost impossible to test as one designer without true customers or a setup to do A/B testing. There’s still data to go through and improvements to make but I loved working on this project.