Your Favorite Hike Planner
Adventurian is an app designed to help new and experienced hikers better prepare for their upcoming hikes. It allows users to check the weather, download the route and get a checklist of the recommended gear for their trek.
My personal experience as inspiration
During the COVID19 pandemic, Americans were looking for new recreational activities that could be done outdoors to ensure they respected the social distance restrictions. The most accessible gateway for many Americans, including myself, was hiking. While hiking can be a fun recreational activity, many new hikers are not aware of the equipment required and the level of complexity of each trail. I wanted to create a platform that helps new and experienced hikers be better prepared for their hikes.
What is the problem?
To better understand the problem space I started doing research. I found a joint report from the All Trails navigation app and the RunRepeat.com data analysis site where they compared their saved data from 2019 to the one from 2020.
The number of hikes logged in 2020 was up 171.4% compared to the data of 2019.
The number of individual hikers during the same time period increased by 134.7%.
Such a drastic increase in the number of hikers entails greater risks for the hiking population. Many new hikers are not aware of the difficulty of each individual trail and do not have the correct equipment to hit the harder trails resulting in accidents, emergencies, and even fatalities.
To design a feasible solution for my target audience I had to set clear technical constraints. Many trek locations in the states do not have phone reception, therefore my solution needs to incorporate off-line access to the app to allow the user to navigate without phone service.
Talking with hikers
After fully understanding the problem space my next goal was to empathize with my users to be able to design a solution that would allow me to keep the user front and centered.
To learn more about the motivations, behaviors, and motivations of my target user I conducted 5 interviews with individuals who started hiking during the pandemic. The main insights and frustrations were divided into the following main themes:
Hikers often forget to check the weather forecast at their trek leading to unpleasant experiences with heavy rain and thunderstorm.
Level of experience
It is normal for hikers to encounter more difficulties during their first hikes.
Hiking with company
The people you choose to go hiking with will make a difference. Find the group whom you feel safer hiking.
Hikers often encounter obstacles that force them to detour increasing their risk of getting lost.
Interview findings main themes
Focusing on my user needs
After synthesizing the interview findings I crafted a persona and journey map to define a foundation for future ideation and design solutions.
Persona and User Journey
After analyzing my persona and my user journey I discovered that hikers encounter the biggest pain point during the research and planning stage. So I decided to focus my solution on providing my users with all the resources needed at this stage to provide an overall greater hiking experience.
At this stage I decided to pivot the focus of my project question
How Might We educate inexperienced American hikers on being better prepared for weather changes to ensure their safety when trekking new parks in the States?
Epic and Task Flows
Focusing on hike planning
Using the reviewed project question and the needs of my persona I created a total of 22 user stories under 4 epics to define the product functionality and the tasks that our users will complete. Taking into consideration the needs of my persona I chose the following epic and user stories to create the minimum valuable product (MVP) of my design solution.
After identifying the main task I developed a primary and secondary task flow considering how our user would interact with my product to complete the selected tasks.
The primary task flow focuses on the user reading relevant information about their hike and finding their personalised gear checklist.
The secondary task flow focuses on a user downloading the map of their route to their phone to have access while being offline.
Sketching and Wireframe
Inspiration and sketching
After defining the task flows I designed the low fidelity wireframes of the main screens. I got inspiration from existing hiking apps like All trails, Gaia, and Hiking Project and from searching for UI components. The best way to let my ideas flow was by doing pen and paper wireframes that would be translated into digital wireframes afterwards.
Rapid sketching for the first prototype
From sketching to low-fidelity wireframe
Iteration to find the best user experience
After creating the mid-fidelity wireframes I wanted to learn more about the user experience. I conducted two rounds of 5 user testings each, each tester was asked to complete 6 tasks and to provide feedback throughout their experience. The insights from the first round were prioritized in a design matrix to select the recommendations that would have the highest impact on usability considering the time constraint.
Most important changes
Users had a hard time knowing the location (State) of the hikes that the app recommended for them. To fix this issue I included a location permission screen and a geotag of the users' current location.
Modifications to the home page.
4 out of 5 users were unsure of the meaning of the icons and copy used to provide the relevant information of the hikes. Users were confused on whether the distance, was the total hike distance or the distance from their current location to the hiking place. To solve the previous issue I gave labels to all icons
Labels for all icons
After applying the modifications of the second user testing round to enhance user experience, I came up with the final mid-fidelity prototype. I used this version to create the final design.
Final user flow in mid-fidelity.
Enhancing the experience
With the final prototype tested, I started creating the brand identity of my digital solution. I came up with a list of adjectives that would guide the look and feel of the app. Here is the list of adjectives that Adventurian embodies:
Based on the selected adjectives I crafted a moodboard to get the main color palette and select the typefaces that reflected the brand personality. When selecting the typefaces I prioritized using a font that would be eligible in small font sizes.
Branding: Typography and Color palette
Bringing it all together
High Fidelity Prototype
All the information at your fingertips
Once the user selects a hike, they can find all the information they need. Check specifications of the trail and activities to do so they can better plan their time there.
Once I had the final branding for my app I started applying the UI elements to my mid-fidelity design to create the high fidelity prototype.
Accurate weather forecast
The user gets a 10-day weather forecast of their trail. This will allow the user to make an informed decision of when is the best time to go hiking.
Be prepared to tackle any difficulty
The user is provided with a personalized checklist of the gear they need for the hike based on hike time, distance, and the weather forecast.
Taking it to the market
I explored the possibilities of taking Adventurian to the market based on the value proposition that it would bring to our target user. I found that with a strong marketing campaign and adaptability to other platforms will bring conversation amongst our target users thus fostering trust in us.
Looking at the future of how Adventurian could be used cross-platform I realized that users would benefit from being able to follow their trek route via satellite from their apple watch. This feature would help our users to complete their trek safely.
Adaptability to Apple Watch 44mm
With more time on hand, more improvements could be made to deliver even a better experience to the users:
More testing and exploration on the functionality and design of the app.
Creating a community for users to rate, leave reviews and share pictures of the hikes they have done. Creating a community will increase our retention rate.
Providing the user with the option to use satellite location to follow and track their route while being off-line.
During the process of creating Adventurian I learned multiple things, but the most important one is that the design process is never linear. I found myself going back to previous steps of the design process to modify, iterate or validate that my decisions aligned with my design goal. During this process the key learnings I had were:
Always keep the user front and center. It is easy to get drowned to design for me, what I like and what works for me and not for the user. It is important to define your target user to be able to test with them and find what works best for them
Test early and test enough. I had a hard time putting myself to test something that wasn't completely ready. However, it is more helpful to test early to verify if you are going in the right direction and if you are reaching your goal through your design.
Embrace the unknown, don't limit your imagination. During the first weeks, I found myself limiting myself to viable/"known" solutions and not allowing myself for blue-sky thinking. I think it requires practice to let my imagination flow but I've definitely learned to embrace the unknown.
Constantly go back to your design question. It is easy to get pulled away from the design question and the tasks-flows and wanting to add new features that have not adhered to the design question or the final goal of the app. In the future, there will always be room for improvement and to add new features as the user requires them.