Tanya Houseman - User Advocate + Content Strategist
Helping people find what they're looking for
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Happy Campers Concept App

Happy Campers aims to save campers time by helping them organize their trips and collaborate with the people they are going with so that gear and tasks are shared, communications are stream-lined, and logistics are well-organized.

My role

I was responsible for all components including project planning, user scripts, user interviews, heuristic analysis, competitive analysis, persona creation, user journey creation/design, icon development, Axure prototype, designing usability testing plan, usability testing, presentation, and project management.

Skills

Project Planning, User Research, Prototyping, Visual Design, Usability Testing, Creating User Scenarios and Personas, Usability Testing, Presentation

Software

MyBalsamiq, PhotoShop, Illustrator, Prezi

The Challenge

As part of a General Assembly class assignment, we were required to create an e-commerce website that would allow campers to plan camping trips, including sharing lists, sending messages, and planning food.

A lack of time is the number one reason camping participants don't get out more often. A lack of interest and a lack of money for equipment are also reasons.

Happy Campers aims to save campers time by helping them organize their trips and collaborate with the people they are going with so that gear and tasks are shared, communications are stream-lined, and logistics are well-organized.

At its MVP level, the design features a flow for users to add friends to the camping planning network, and a flow for users to:

--Upload and share lists

--Plan meals with preferences and assignments

--Add friends

--Coordinate logistics

--Keep fellow campers informed using the platform instead of email

The Discovery

Even though the project was a class assignment, I treated the research as if it was real. I recruited 8 campers who I did not know via social media. I acquired a lot of data from nine user interviews I conducted, illustrated on my personal affinity board. I collected artefacts such as campers' carpool lists, gear lists, and meal preferences, which I referenced when I designed the prototype.

Research

According to the KOA's "The 2015 North American Camping Report," the future of camping lies with group or club-associated trips. More than half of the users who I interviewed camped as part of a group -- Friends of the River, Burning Man, and the Boy Scouts of America, were some of the groups that organized camping and who said that a planning website would be helpful to their planning.

Also, I found that the demographics for camping is older than REI's average age of 32 years. According to the KOA Report, the 45-54 age range is expected to grow. The 25 to 44 age group makes up more than one-third of the total number of campers (34.5%) currently, but the over 45 age group is a close second at 29%.

I concentrated my user research on this older demographic.

The Solution

The User Journey

"Happy Campers" website is for pre-planning for campers who are already organized. Every single camper I interviewed owned a RubberMaid tub full of camping gear that's ready to pack in a car at a moment's notice. However, they currently they do not have a way to share lists or coordinate events in a seamless application. Their pain points consist of purchasing permits (and not all campsites need permits, and some permitting processes are disparate.) Other speed bumps include logistics such as establishing meeting places and coordinating car pooling, and communication--email is often used in the planning processes and it can take time to track down information in a string that may be two weeks old.

I also created a concept map to see how many elements I would have to address. This showed me that building a website for complex processes would have to be as simple as possible on the front-end (meaning it may be more complex on the back-end). Heuristic evaluations showed gaps that "Happy Campers" could address.

Meet Gary Howard

After organizing my research, I created Gary, an experienced camper, who organizes large camping trips. I established a secondary persona who is part of the planning process, and an anti-persona – a person who loves camping and is highly organized, but doesn’t like camping with others. This persona, James, would not be interested in using an application such as Happy Campers.

User Flow

The original user flow was different than my final prototype. I had to keep iterating to simplify the process, and to address data on usability testing.

Initial testing showed that people wanted to see other lists, and logistics was missing. The original e-commerce element (as required in the project brief) linked to REI. If a person needed a stove, then they could go directly to REI and buy it. However, this was as boyant as a lead balloon. It actually turned off the users. First of all, they mentioned that if they needed a stove they would borrow it from another camper, espeically since it's a fairly common item.

It doesn't mean that a website such as "Happy Campers" would be a bad business strategy for a store such as REI -- all of my testers love REI, but prefer to actually go into a store and try on clothing, look through books, and basically, "see" what's there. A website such as "Happy Campers" could build "good will," help educate campers, and act as an idea generator for when campers may need an item.

My first sketches actually had a blog or hero image placement, and when tested, was similar to the lead balloon.

Objective success metrics

--Number of members and users

--Number of people sharing information per project

--Number of artefacts lists

--Number of permits purchased

--Number of partners, such as campsites, sharing information

Subjective success metrics

--People highly satisfied with the product

--Users feel that the website helped save them time in the following areas

Future steps and Learnings

I learned more about group camping and how that may differ from an individual planning a trip or even with one other friend. I also learned how social, communal, and organized campers are. Even though they are extremely organized, all people I conducted the usability test said they would use this site, and if I could have it ready by Burning Man.

Personally, I also learned more about project managing my own time. I have managed a lot of projects professionally, but when it came to working alone, I found that I wanted to spend more time on the research. My teacher said that I did that this project wouldn't ship in real life, so time boxing is something I really pay attention to.

Assigning tasks

Communicating with co-campers

Purchasing permits

Planning/assigning meals

Coordinating logistics

Usability testing current iteration

Coordinating content strategy with campsites

Working with devs on secure payments and information governance

Building the next prototype with raised events (if done in Axure)

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Primary Persona_Gary_Howard.jpg
Secondary_Persona_Bridget Farrell.jpg
Anti_Persona_James_Hoffman.jpg
Camping Mind Map.jpg
Customer Journey 2.png
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Heuristics.jpg
Infinity Diagram.jpg
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User Stories.jpg
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Happy Campers Prototype

A basic prototype in MyBalsamic