the travel app for the queer community
Searching for new places to travel and feel welcome and safe can be a complicated process for the queer community. I found a solution in an app that gathers reviews on accommodations and establishments from the local queer community. Qurated Travel makes queer-owned businesses and meeting local community easy to find..
UX designer and researcher (individual project)
Adobe Creative Suite
I conducted 5 initial interviews with self-identified members of the NYC queer community. First, I created an interview plan, trying to find out if an interviewee had an uncomfortable travel experience, without delving into the negative. I found that they were looking to meet people and feel safe when traveling.
User Interview questions
On finding queer friendly establishments on the road:
"I learned on the road trip, especially in the south: you need to look that s*** up ahead in advance."
On having a unique travel experience with a host as a guide:
"It was awesome because it's... local houses, local people taking you around."
On researching queer friendly establishments:
"Those places are usually word of mouth. Somebody I know would say “Oh, you’re going to that place? You should go to ‘insert queer space.’”
I was able to sort the interview responses into five categories:
choosing a destination
things to avoid
length of trip/who you're traveling with
how do you get there?
finding queer establishments
Using these categories, I identified the patterns between each user. They are looking for a memorable travel experience, which could be a tourist destination, or a camping spot in the woods. Their trips aren't usually longer than a week, and they search specifically for queer establishments, bars, and people.
With this information, I created the user persona of Anna Williamson. She always researches bars and restaurants before heading out on a trip, and she tends to travel with her partner and their friends, who all identify as LGBTQ+. She wants to find accomodations and destinations that are aesthetically pleasing and good for Instagram pics. She is worried about standing out or feeling othered in a new environment.
A 32-year-old queer woman needs to find an easy way research travel destinations before departure because she wants to patronize queer-owned businesses, and know from trusted reviews whether or not a place is going to be welcoming.
During User Interviews, I discovered that queer people want to meet up with other community members while traveling, and like to research what businesses are queer friendly so that they can patronize those specifically.
Therefore, I believe that the specificity of a travel app for the queer community will allow users to find welcoming travel and ease of mind and we might be able to help if we included trusted reviews and an interactive map to find nearby queer-owned businesses and meetups.
We might do this by providing user and review verification, and offering experience features linking users up with local guides and potential new friends and community members. Doing this will allow our product to offer a specific advantage to the queer community that gives us a competitive edge over more general travel apps.
For the ideation phase, I used the “I like, I wish, what if?” method. “I like” refers to already existing concepts, “I wish” refers to possibilities, and “what if” takes us into the realm of hypotheticals, such as "What if there was a gay uber?"
Ideation using the "I Like," "I Wish," "What If?" method
All of the features from the ideation session were then sorted by complexity and impact. Some of the more fantastical ideas ended up in the high complexity-low impact section, and more viable and realistic options moved closer to the right side of the chart..
Feature Prioritization Matrix
DIRECT COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
Spartacus is a site to search for gay events and parties catered to the gay community. Filter locations and events in your area and see them live on a map. Clearly focused only on gay men travelers. There is very little available on free version of app.
Damron offers digital guides and sells physical travel guides. weak visual design. There is a clear focus on white, cis, gay men. The site has plenty of dead ends, following links to empty pages; it is outdated and difficult to use.
INDIRECT COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
TripIt includes safety scores for areas, it is not a specifically LGBTQ+ travel app but has settings to cover women's and LGBTQ+ safety. Users have the ability to sync an in-app itinerary to their phone's calendar. Reviews say that the premium version is too expensive, and that they send too many emails.
Yelp makes it easy to find nearby establishments and businesses and read reviews. There are plenty of listings, and it's very easy to search. There is no social connection and though one can search for LGBTQ+ businesses nearby, that is not the focus of the app.
Google Maps can search areas in advance, or search "_____" near me." Integrates reviews and ratings while showing how to get to where you're going. Search results may be too broad. Directions account for traffic, but traffic times can be inaccurate.
The direct competitor apps cater to a very specific audience, often cisgender gay men. There isn't really anything like them for the rest of the queer community yet. The indirect competitors give great ideas of what works in a general travel app.
I really wanted to focus on the onboarding process during this project. These were drawn really fast and loose, just to get a layout figured out.
Initial sketches for the login page
LOW-FI DIGITAL WIREFRAMES
I wanted to test the onboarding process of the app, to see if there were any steps along the way where users might get lost. The tasks I focused on were:
Create an account using email and password
Add a profile pic
Usability testing plan detailing task number 1: Create an account
In testing, users gave the feedback that they wanted an option to skip all the profile creation steps and see the homepage first, but also that with the tutorial, too prominent a skip button feels like an instruction to the user.
In the iOS mockup, I created and used a style guide and moved away from UI kits. With a bit of color and the paper airplane motif, the look became a lot friendlier.
Qurated Travel came to be because there is a need that is not being filled in the current market. There are travel apps that are explicitly gay, but those cater to wealthy, white, gay, cisgender men. There isn’t a travel app explicitly for the queer community. The focus is safety, welcomeness, and above all else, fun. From initial interviews with community members, to user tests and iterations, my goal has been to create something easy to use, with the features that the user is actually interested in. I spent most of my energy prototyping the onboarding process, but I would like to continue creating the prototype so that the actual functions of the app can be shown as well.
If you give a user a big "Skip Tutorial" button, they are going to skip it.
Don't go into an interview trying to get a specific answer for a question, if we knew all the answers we wouldn't need to conduct interviews!
Indirect competitors have a lot to teach us. They may not have the same specific focus as we do, but there is plenty to be inspired by.