Locally UX research and design

About Locally

I wanted to create a real world project where I could practice my UX knowledge and develop new skills. I found the problem of finding a better way to save and retrieve interesting places and tried to solve it with my project called Locally.

This case study describes Locally's UX process of discovery, validation, design and testing.

Interviewing process

I spent a few weeks being more aware of people's frustrations through everyday conversations and came up with a few potential problems. The struggle of saving and retrieving interesting places was the first one validated.

To validate this problem, I created a UX research plan and interviewed 6 people. The main questions I wanted answers from were:

Some common threads came up:

Empathy map & Personas

An empathy map helped me organize interviews' results into users' feelings and actions.

Empathy map

Two personas with different motives and lifestyles were created to represent our audience.

  • Tim, the 1st personna Tim
    I always enjoy having good food with good company.
    Family situation:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Software engineer
    good food, video games, martial arts, biking, climbing
    Technical comfort:
    too many to count
    Tim has lived in Los Angeles, CA for 4 years now. He has previously lived in Japan, France and Australia and has kept in touch with friends there. As an introvert, he doesn't like to go out by himself but enjoys knowing which restaurant to go to when going out with friends. He gets a lot of recommendations from his family/friends abroad, local friends, coworkers, acquaintances but doesn't have a good system to store these recommendations and have them resurfaced when the appropriate time and location comes.
    Goals & Motivations
    • Easily find good restaurants to go to, when at home or traveling
    • Store recommendations in one place
    • Enjoy good food with good company
    • Does not have one place where interesting places are stored, instead uses his brain, notes, google maps bookmarks
    • Does not have location resurfacing when time and location is appropriate
    (Photo credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/combust/2631916612/)
  • Emily, the 2nd personna Emily
    I love rediscovering my hometown with old and new favorites.
    Family situation:
    Married with 2 children
    Houston, TX
    good food, tango, theater, history, arts
    Technical comfort:
    iPhone, Mac laptop
    Emily has lived in Houston, TX her whole life. She likes going to her favorite places but also be in the know for new and upcoming cool places. She finds her favorite spots from friends and social media.
    Goals & Motivations
    • Explore the cities she lives in or travel to
    • Spend quality time with friends/family
    • Be in the know for cool places to go to
    • Does not have one place where interesting places are stored, instead uses memory, notes and sms
    • Needs a location for a place with a particular interest and can't easily remember/find it
    • Is unsure how and what app to download on her phone and usually asks her children for help
    (Photo credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/maurizio_mwg/2789568577/)

Competitive analysis

After our audience was defined, it was time to research websites/apps/tools solving problems similar to ours. The research included social media, tour guides and planning products.

This research led us to questions we will eventually have to answer:

  • How to view locations?
  • How to add locations?
  • Do we implement notifications and if yes, how?
  • How do we verify places?
  • How do we categorize places?
  • Can we share places and if yes, how?
  • Can we plan itineraries and if yes, how?
Researched tools: Evernote, Foursquare, Strava, Google maps, Swarm, Facebook, Citymaps, Trello, Roadtrippers, Waze, Pinterest, Tripit, Instagram, On the grid

Card sorting

Four live card sorting sessions were performed to understand how to display and organize content.

Card sorting of 3rd participant

Those sessions helped us better understand the classifications of places, users' goals as well as focus on individual places and not maps or itineraries.

Locations were divided within 2 classifications:

Users had 4 main goals:

Some cards ("bike paths", "maps of places to see while visiting a city" and "your cousin's traveling places") were too general and confused participants as they didn't describe a specific place. It will be more important to focus on storing/retrieving individual places than figuring out how they fit into an organized maps or itineraries.

User testing v1

Once I understood users' goals, and places' classification better, a sitemap and wireframes were created and user testing implemented.

Sitemap v1
Home/Add place/Categories wireframes v1 Homepage wireframe Add place wireframe Place categories wireframe
Main menu wireframes v1 Close-by places wireframe Favorites places wireframe All places wireframe User info/settings wireframe

During the first round of user testing, I showed users wireframes and asked for their first general impressions: what did they think the app do? where would they click and why?

After testing the v1 wireframes, I realized that the main menu was confusing as places could appear in more than one menu items. I had to find a better way to differentiate close-by/favorite/new places and to find places per cities. The places categories feature was successful and was kept in the following version.

User testing v2

For v2, I rethought the main menu while still keeping the close-by/favorite/new types within the app, made city/country search easier, added on-boarding process and streamlined the look with logo and icons.

Sitemap v2
Onboarding v2 Welcome wireframe Sign up/Login wireframe Login wireframe User settings wireframe Features walkthrough wireframe
Main menu v2 Close-by wireframe Search all wireframe Add location part 1 Add location part 2
Location view/Categories/Notifications v2 Edit location wireframe Place categories wireframe Close-by place notification

The v2 user testing consisted in 3 in-person usability sessions using a user testing script and interactive wireframes on popapp. I ask the users to perform 5 tasks:

  1. Describe the homepage
  2. Create an account
  3. Find closest locations to where (s)he was now
  4. Find locations in a specific city
  5. Add location

Three usability problems stood out:

A more detailed user testing report with wireframe updates is available.

MVP & user stories

After the second round of user testing, some features were validated and some still need to be worked out but we have enough to start building a MVP.

As a user, I need to be able to see all places. List all the saved places for the user to see. Each place has a name, address and notes.
As a user, I need to be able to see the 20 closest places. List all the 20 closest places started with closest for the user to see.
As a user I need to be able to add an interesting place and see it the list of places. User should be able to enter a location, have it verified and saved to other locations.
As a user, I need to be able to edit interesting places. All places need to have an edit button. Each button must be clickable and allow places to be modified and saved.
As a user, I need to be able to delete interesting places. All places need to have an delete button. Each button must be clickable and allow places to be deleted.
As a user, I need to be notified when I am close-by a listed place. When within 5 miles of a place, put up a notification.
As a user, I need to view places per cities.
As a user, I need to view/add/edit places with categories. Add categories field to place and let users view/add/edit them.
As a user, I need to be able to filter places by categories.
As a user, I need to view/add/edit places with types. Add types field to place and let users view/add/edit them.
As a user, I need to be able to filter places by types.
As a user, I need to be able to register/login/logout .
As a user, I need to be able to fill in my default settings .

Style Guide

I want Locally to be the best, comforting and fun friend you got to when you need help to find a place to eat, to explore or just hang out. Your friend that remember your favorite restaurant but also can give you new places to try out.

This style guide share the guidelines to ensure the comforting and fun branding as well as a consistent look.

Style guide fonts and colors
Style guide icons


Once a device is chosen, MVP's user stories can start being implemented. At the same time, wireframes needs to be worked out with at least another round of user testing sessions and eventually polished wireframes following the style guide needs to be created with Sketch.

Locally was a fun project to practice my UX skills and become more familiar with the UX process. I have a few ideas on improvements/changes but for now, I am calling the project done with a potential extension if I decide to work with Sketch and/or learn Android development.