“HikeCheck” a smartphone application that solves some of the major problems faced
by the beginner hikers by few innovations and integrating existing technologies. We aim to help beginner hikers save time, resources and create a fun, exciting, relaxing and memorable hiking experience.
Designer, PM, Researcher
Choosing a hike in PNW can be an intimidating and frustrating experience rather than being a pleasant one. Hikers have to sort through a seemingly infinite list of hiking places in order to decide where to go and it also lacked the sense of community. So..
How might we improve the readiness of hikers to have a pleasant and safe hike?
Helping beginner hikers to find hike that fits within their physical ability and with access to their basic health data we designed the tool to help hikers find hikes to match their physical fitness level.
Through data we discovered there was a missing piece of accountability and we wanted to fill the gap through designing the group page and group checklist feature. Anyone joining the group trip event created by the hike organizer will see the group checklist. Everyone will understand what essentials they need to bring, as individuals and as a group.
So, I designed an Easy check off list for beginner hikers to address who's bringing what and track each others progress.
Based on the survey results, lack of hiking buddy (46.9%) and transportation (50%) are the two biggest factors preventing beginner hikers from hiking more.
Thus, the "Open Trips" features to help beginner hikers to explore public hiking trips on hikes of their interest and fit their time schedule. They can ask for a carpool to meet their transportation need.
Hiking is infused in an environmentalist culture in the PNW. Nowadays, it has become a family and friend bonding experience that everyone can participate in.
Being said that, we have access to a wide variety of hiking trail depending on different difficulty levels. Sometimes we miss the gist of how difficult some hikes can be not understanding the elevations or kind of attire one might need to be prepared to do certain hikes and hence people face difficulties to get by and these difficulties oftentimes result in the discouragement of the next hiking trip.
Thus, HikeCheck aims to provide a personalized and resourceful solution to support beginner hikers to make better trail selection decisions and hike within a group, ensuring a fun, exciting, relaxing, and memorable experience.
In this project, we took a goal-directed design approach that proved to be quite effective in our design efforts. We found qualitative research methods to be the most useful, consisting of a kickoff meeting, some literature review, competitive analysis, stakeholder interviews, and most important our persona hypothesis construction. We started out by asking ourselves some initial key questions.
To familiarize with what's out there, we picked and compared 4 major apps being used by the hikers in PNW. The goal was to find what information or tools are being provided to the hikers for planning the hikes and how useful it is.
But, we discovered that currently there are no tools that addresses issues found through our research and providing essential, preparatory, customized information for individuals and groups.
And it was more so, hikers have to pick and choose what they think might be important by surfing through the extensive and overwhelming amount of information scattered all over the place online.
From the beginning, our group knew we wanted to re-think how to approach finding hike and how we can make it easier for the users to approach a hike with people or by themselves.
We hit the ground running and immediately put out a survey to get user insight on experiences with hiking, transportations, their motivations.
We received 60 responses. In order, to get little bit of more concrete data, we also conducted 9 semi-structured interviews and 2 contextual inquiries.
Based on user interviews and survey data, we were able to narrow down and identified one main user group - beginner hikers. As per data, they were the ones struggling the most. So, I built use case to help ground our solutions as we moved forward.
Based on our data from interviews, survey and competitive analysis, we established that there were about 10 design requirements. But given the time and constraints, I with one other member lead the conversation to define and refine some major design goals that our app should accomplish to avoid problems found in existing products.
do the honors,
hover over the button!
To encourage beginner hikers to hike more, our product needs to provide a platform for the community to connect with one another and share resources including transportation and companion.
Since most hikers hike with a group, our products need to allow enough transparency during the preparation phase to turn "passively receive information" to "active participation".
To better help beginner hikers make trail selection decisions for themselves, our product needs to provide personalized recommendation and estimation.
Based on the previous understanding, I and another team member led the parallel and group sketching activity where we all individually and collectively sketched ideas using the design requirements above. Finally, after 20 different ideas we decided that an app would be most ideal because of the feasibility.
When we had a clear picture of our users' needs and their behavior, we started to brainstorm ideas about the app's layout and its main features. We kept in mind our personas and based our ideas on the potential usage scenarios.
While brainstorming a user flow, we were able to decrease the number of steps from seven to five by implementing more intuitive input techniques.
I proposed to use the paper prototyping technique and facilitated the design session during which we created our initial layout.
As we wanted to relate to the nature and a feeling of calm we took inspiration from our created mood boards, where, I and one other member created the style guide for the app. It was important for us to have a style guide as every member designed some part of the app and for sake of saving time and have consistency throughout. I proposed we should have it.
We first tested our design with paper prototype and conducted two speak-out-load sessions with potential users. These tasks are designed around primary motivations people might have for using the application. We were curious to evaluate to what extent people found the preparatory components of the application beneficial. During these sessions, we were able to identify a few drawbacks in the initial layout version.
After iterating on our design we conducted one more testing sessions with interactive wireframes. When we were quite satisfied with the current version, we applied high fidelity design treatment to the wireframes where I worked on hi-fidelity interaction in invision.
Everyday Language and Analogies
One of the biggest problem for users not understanding the heights and elevations during the hike, me and one of the team member designed an additional explanation section for each parameter of the hike. By using everyday language and analogies of daily activities, beginner hikers can gain a better understanding of what the hike is like. There will be more transparency and clarity about the trail. No more confusion and regret about going on a wrong trail.
Checklist & Map
During research, we observed that hikers were unaware about what kind of things they need to help them prepare for the hike. So, checklist feature helps them be aware about what are the things you must have and think that would be nice to have. This way it will help hikers be aware before they go for hike.
The other feature which was important to have was having appropriate layman term description of the hike experience and to fulfill the need of hikers not wanting to use their phone while hiking. It becomes important to have offline features like download trail map and use it when needed.
Product Features & Product Thinking
While working on this project I had great experience to practice my teamwork, collaboration, and accountability skills. I learned that dividing the workload and owning a part of the project is a key to productivity. Also, I was once again reassured that user testing and iteration will always deliver positive results.
Thank you for reading!