JetBlack is a travel app that focuses on identifying safe spaces for black/LGBT international travelers. Features include safe accommodations, local activities, legal, safety and cultural perspectives within visiting countries that would affect these people groups.
I designed this app as my capstone project for my User Experience Design course at General Assembly. The challenge was to identify an issue that one is passionate about and develop a solution. I am passionate about travel and I love hearing travel stories. As I began to travel more, I realized that travel experiences are very personal, and it’s important to have perspectives from people who encounter the world through similar experiences. These stories and experiences are lacking for the Black/LGBT community.
How can we provide relevant travel information to these unique travelers that does not require digging through lengthy online forums, blogs and travel sites, or simply traveling without necessary information?
RISK AND CONSIDERATIONS
After interviewing users, I realized that I had not considered the issue of security -- which is very important. I learned that the good thing about having a diverse group of testers is that the feedback represents their personal experiences. My users represented various nationalities, and therefore, were able to broach the topic of security. Security and encryption are important features to consider when presenting information about users or local businesses that may be LGBT-friendly that would risk harm due to being "outed." How do we provide the information that our users need and share profiles without compromising information in geographic regions that may be hostile towards LGBT people? I will consider these options during the requirements planning phase of my development cycle.
After defining the issue, researching the market and interviewing potential users, the solution became JetBlack — a travel app that offers travel information specifically for the black/LGBT community by members of that community.
This prototype supports a user journey for researching a destination (Lisbon), as well as reviewing hotels, local laws and cultural attitudes for that destination.
I was the sole UX designer for this project. My processes included discovery, defining scope, user research, competitive analysis, persona development, visual design, prototyping and user testing.
User Interviews, Persona Development, User Journeys and Flows, Feature Prioritization, Sketching, Wireframes, High Fidelity Comps, Prototyping and User Testing.
Sketch, Pencil and Paper, Marvel, Evernote, Canva
During my discovery phase, I searched for websites and applications that would address the main concern for these users. The qualifications were that the information needed to be included as part of the general information for each destination and accommodation, and not separate. The information did not require the user to look through forum threads, read blog posts, or message other users. Out of the three top-rated travel apps, only one remotely provided this information.
RESEARCH & ANALYSIS
After my discovery phase and defining the scope, I began my user research to identify customer behaviors, expectations, pain points and overall mindset when booking international travel.
The results from those interviews were:
Users are unable to find relevant travel information regarding safety, accepting accommodations, and legal/cultural information in the desired international destinations without scouring blogs and long forum threads.
Users meet unexpected issues of prejudice, violence or rejection when traveling internationally due to lack of information from other travelers in their demographic.
Users find it difficult connecting with other black/LGBT travelers before and during travel.
During my interviews, black/LGBT international travelers stood out to me as the most prominent users for which I would build my solution around the needs and expectations of these users.
SKETCHING & WIREFRAMES
In developing the solution, my process included ideation and sketching to create wireframes, and then high fidelity comps of the app. I wanted to create a similar feel for competitive travel apps to create a sense of normalcy, even though the content is for a unique people group.
INITIAL USER JOURNEY AND SITE MAP
The initial user journey and site map reflected a responsive format and features that were eventually weeded out.
Revised User Journey
After initial prototype testing, I revised the user-journey to reflect an app instead of a website, and I focused on the minimum viable product based on a "Now, Next, Later" feature prioritization method.
PROTOTYPING & USABILITY TESTING
In order to begin usability testing of the site with low-fidelity wireframes, I created four task scenarios and conducted testing with four users from which I iterated upon the designs based on my findings. The first key outcome from my first round of testing was that users wanted to be able to have an app, as it would be more convenient to use offline. The second outcome was that users wanted a way to borrow itineraries from other users. Lastly, the third outcome was that users were not as interested in the local experiences feature, as they felt they could get that information elsewhere.
JetBlack would be the only app in a vast travel market that caters to the black/LGBT traveler. Future considerations could include the ability to create group travel experiences with other users, as well as the ability to book hotels and activities directly through the site, instead of having users leave the app to book directly through hotels and other travel providers.