Way Find is a travel app designed for users who are looking for unique experiences based on their personal needs and interests while keeping accessibility in mind.
Way Find is a travel planning app that allows users to plan personalized trips based on their specific needs and interests so they can experience the world in ways that are meaningful to them. With the rise of micro-trips, or shorter trips taken more frequently, travelers need a way to efficiently plan their vacations. In addition, travelers with disabilities need a way to plan itineraries that revolve around their more accessibility-focused needs and interests. Traveling while able-bodied can already be stressful and difficult to manage. Finding a way to make the process of planning trips easier for marginalized groups of people who aren't always written into the travel-narrative is important. The world is full of opportunities and wonderful places and everybody deserves to have an opportunity to experience it.
Focusing on accessible travel, I designed an app that would allow travelers to not only plan trips around local culture and their personal taste, but would also allow them to filter out any suggestions that don't meet their personal accessibility modification requirements.
Stakeholders and Personas
Before designing a better understanding of the targeted user needed to be found to create more informed design choices. Following the IBM Design Thinking toolkit, I started my research process by creating a stakeholder map to find a more focused user.
I designed for two targeted users. One being a young, travel enthusiast while the other is a travel who uses a wheelchair.
01. Travel Enthusiast
This user takes multiple trips throughout the year. Being a frequent traveler, she needs a way to stay organized while planning her future trips
02. Traveler with Disabilities
This user loves finding new things to do and would like to travel more independently, however traveling while using a wheelchair can be complicated and stressful. In order to alleviate some of the stress that comes with traveling, he would like to know what activities/venues are accessible for him.
To better understand the user's needs, an empathy map based off of interviews was created. This step was important in the process because it allowed me to get a clearer understanding of what the users need and what they are looking for and what to advocate for when making design decisions.
Inclusion and diversity
Inclusion was at the core of this project. One of the most important goals of this project was to try and make every aspect as inclusive as possible. From the language and illustration style used throughout, it was crucial to make sure every user felt seen and represented regardless of physical differences.
Beyond that, I researched about inclusive language and the power that words carry in terms of visibility and representation. Throughout the app, people-first language is used, meaning the person is put before their disability.
Paper Prototypes and User Feedback
After I got a cleared understanding of the user's needs, I designed paper prototypes to conduct user testing. The feedback from the testing helped with usability and functionality when starting the digital design process.
I wanted the name of the app to reflect the task of searching for new locations and navigating through environments. After some wordlisting and brainstorming, I decided on the name "Way Find", deriving from wayfinding systems that direct people through spaces.
Overall, this project reiterated the value of inclusive design. Understanding that different users have different needs and finding a way to design for all types of users was challenging but rewarding. I believe that inclusion and diversity within design systems isn't just important, it's necessary. It's important to design for underrepresented groups because not only is there power in visibility, but it creates a more inclusive future. It was great to be able to develop a system that represents marginalized groups of people and I expect to keep doing so in the future!
As I continue to work on this project, I would have liked to push my design further and adjust some of the UI elements to make sure that they meet AA and AAA WCAG accessibility requirements.