PACKED Business Travel Packing App
Helping business travelers pack what they need for a trip
Purpose: Final project for General Assembly’s 5-day user experience design intensive
Role: User experience designer (student!)
Team: Solo project
Project duration: 5 days
Skills: User research, prototyping, wireframing, usability testing, UI design
How do travelers know what to pack? I’d just come back from a month of travel – both business and personal, to places cold and warm. This problem-area was top of mind.
Research the problem, define the opportunity, design a solution, and test the resulting product – all in a 5-day design sprint.
My first step was to talk with frequent travelers and uncover the key challenges and stressors they face when packing for a trip.
Interviews, round 1:
I started by interviewing 4 travelers to discuss the most recent trips they took. These included resort vacations, camping, attending concerts, and visiting clients – quite the range! As a result, the packing considerations that interviewees brought up were wildly diverse.
Narrowing the target audience:
I wanted to keep the scope of my project as tight as possible. A minimum viable product, right? So I decided to focus on business travelers. They typically travel for short periods (no laundry worries), go alone (no kids to pack for), without special equipment (no sleeping bag needed).
Interviews, round 2:
I interviewed 3 frequent business travelers about their most recent work trip. Some of the questions I asked:
Tell me about the last trip you took.
What did you bring with you?
When did you pack?
Walk me through packing for the trip. What was the first thing you did?
How did you decide what to take?
How did you feel, as you finished packing?
Tell me about a time you totally misjudged what to pack for a trip. What happened?
Did that experience change how you packed on successive trips?
Weather: 100% of participants look at weather forecasts when packing
Forgetting stuff: 100% experienced or worried about forgetting items
Optimize and minimize: 80% try to choose versatile garments and bring a minimum selection of clothes
Night before: 80% packed their bags the night before leaving
Carry-on only: 60% preferred taking a carry-on only
Clothes first: For 80% of participants, the first packing step is to choose clothes
I struggled to identify competing products. There didn’t seem to be anything out there to help you pack for a trip. At first, I reviewed a broad selection of travel-related brands: Airbnb, Away luggage, and Conde Nast’s travel publication. As the week progressed, and I wrapped my head around both the problem and the solution taking shape, I was able to identify relevant products. I informally reviewed list-making apps such as Asana, travel-booking apps including Expedia, WestJet, and Air Canada, and iOS’s native Weather app.
Defining the user & problem
After synthesizing the findings from my user research, I created a persona, Vanessa the Frequent Flier, to help think about the behaviors, needs, and goals of business travelers.
“Vanessa needs a way to figure out what to pack for business trips as quickly and last-minute as possible because forgetting something or bringing the wrong things could jeopardize her comfort and her trip’s success.”
Storyboarding helped me start to imagine how a product could help Vanessa get packing done. Based on the user research – and the need to pick just-enough weather-appropriate clothes – I envisioned a kind of a checklist-generating wizard, that looks at your destination, the forecast, and the length of your trip, and produces a list of stuff for you to pack.
For the sake of this sprint, I focused on a single use case: creating a trip packing list.
Prototyping and user testing:
I went through multiple rounds of prototyping and user testing (5 or more, I can’t even count). Fidelity increased with each iteration. I stuck with paper and pencil as long as I could, before moving into Sketch. This helped me avoid getting stuck on pixel-perfection. The first two rounds of user testing were done as paper walk-throughs. Then I started testing prototypes with Marvel.
“It’s late evening on Monday, Sept. 3. Tuesday morning (tomorrow!), you’re flying off to Denver for an industry conference that lasts until Saturday. You need to pack! To keep things simple, you only want to bring a carry-on.
Test and iterate, test and iterate:
Testing helped me figure out the design of several key screens. It also helped me solve feature challenges.
Setup form iterations …
Iterating on baggage-preference inputs …
Figuring out how to incorporate weather forecasts …
Name and brand identity:
I didn’t choose a name or define the visual identity until the very last version of my product prototype. Fun story: The course instructor laughed when she saw the branding: “Are you a Greenbay Packers fan?” I had no idea the name and color scheme matched the football team’s kit!
What I learned:
Going through this sprint was a tremendous overall learning experience. I can’t believe how much I accomplished in 5 days! By nature, I’m a careful planner, so experiencing fast, action-oriented cycles of testing/iterating was an eye-opening experience.
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what to pack for a trip. The biggest challenge was finding a balance giving users enough options to customize their list, without overwhelming them with too many choices and settings.
What I’d do differently next time:
I would pre-screen interview and testing participants. I’d also try to be less of a dope when performing a competitive analysis.
My favorite step:
I love doing user interviews. I’m curious about people, their thoughts and experiences.