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Project: Onboarding and Service Design
Role: Design Research and UX/UI Design
Adeel Dar, Genevieve Smith, Simran Bansal 

Platform: Mobile app. 

Tools: Sketch, InVision, Photoshop,
Zephr, Keynote, RealTime Board


This concept project for The Ace Hotel, London, was to pilot and create a new “experience” function which would further their model of connecting travelers to finely-curated local experiences. Our team of four created a web-app with key features of cross-pollination between nearby local events and businesses, plus introducing a safety feature to support solo travelers. This enhanced the conversation between locals and travelers, creating a global experience of connection

The Challenge: Create a mobile app that captures the existing Ace Hotel  brand identity and ethos, whilst adding an experience feature. Enhance the connection between tourists and locals, while fostering small, local businesses. 

The Solution: The app includes an onboarding process, that's personalized to each guest. After extensive research and synthesizing, we used taxonomy and information architecture to create a curated experience function. Through our user research we also discovered the need for a "solo-traveller safety feature" which was implemented. 

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Brief overview
Screener Survey
Competitive Analysis
Site Visit
User Interviews

Brief Overview

Our primary goal for the 2-week sprint was to create an Experience feature within an MVP, a mobile app. Ace Hotels began in 1999 in Seattle, WA. They offer guests a touchstone during their travels, as they're uniquely crafted, with locations across the globe. My team and I wanted to create an app that would allow guests to book their accommodation via a mobile device, as well as curated experiences in that location. 

Screener Survey

Our screener survey revealed that travel was a high priority for the this pool of users, and we were able to discern the top 6 categories of activities that might be important during their travels. 

Screen Shot 2019-03-31 at 2.12.22 PM.png

Competitive Analysis

As this is a new feature for boutique hotels, we found one direct competitor: The Hoxton. The indirect competitors that we focused on were: AirBnb, Trip Advisor, Expedia and Meetup. What could we learn from the travel apps that were successfully drawing people and community together? AirBnb was particularly important, as they had introduced the Experience feature to their accommodation site and this was actually validating traveller's experience and loyalty to the brand. Event reviews and a chat feature added a further level of trust for guests. 

Site Visit

Our site visit allowed us to observe the interaction of guests and locals coming together. Also noted was the specific location in London. Located in the heart of Shoreditch: a once gritty neighborhood, now thriving with creative entrepreneurs and small, boutique businesses. A perfect environment for cross-pollination of bespoke experiences.

User Interviews

Our site visit allowed us to interview guests, locals, and hotel staff in one hub: which offered a well-rounded perspective. Guests were often solo or traveling with friends & family. This would influence the types of experiences they were drawn to. We also discovered that a No. of users were solo female travelers. They expressed a need to find experiences that felt safe in a foreign city. This was an unexpected discovery, one that we wanted to carry further into the design process. 


Affinity Mapping 
Persona & Scenario
Design Studio

Affinity Mapping

From these interviews we synthesized our findings to hone in on the exact persona that Ace Hotel was trying to cater to, as well as to create the MVP and prioritize key features within Experiences.  

Proto Persona & Scenario

Via affinity mapping we uncovered our primary persona: Jo. She was a working professional who loves traveling. Her key frustration is not having one trusted source that she can turn to for accommodation and experiences. As well as feeling safe as a solo female traveler. She often uses user reviews from various sites to discern what experiences would be viable for her. She's looking to book a spontaneous event during her trip and wants to ensure it matches the vibe of her hotel: unique and artisanal. It also needs to be within walking distance. 

Design Studio

Our design studio set about finding solutions for some of our user's problems. We focused primarily on core features that would further the personalized experience for our users. An augmented map was an exciting feature that was born, but we had to re-strategize due to development constraints. The digital concierge concept offered that Ace Hotel personalisation, "Help-a-local" (later titled social causes) as one of the categories, plus an interactive navigational feature. We needed to keep development constraints in mind. 


Card Sorting


Paper-prototyping allowed us to bring a product to our users to test some of our concepts. This gave us key insights into the user journey and core-issues that needed to be refined.  


We added an onboarding page which personalized the experience and guided users into the product. 


Card Sorting 

This method allowed us to refine the categories in the Experience Feature, it replaced our assumptions with actual users-needs. We iterated the Information Architecture and Taxonomy to secure our primary categories. 


User testing 
Clickable Prototype

Wireframes and User-testing 

Through continued user-testing we progressed to low and mid-fi prototypes. We recognized the user's need for two entry points into navigation on the homepage. The search icon moved to the top right-hand corner to increase visibility

In the second image, we display iterations of the key findings from Design Studios.

Finally, filters were added to improve the flow of the Experience feature. 


Our user journey focuses on the checkout process for the Experience Feature. We added a short journey to display the digital concierge function. User's suggested the option of being able add the charge to the room, which became a secondary feature in the payment process. 

Ace Hotel Prototype.jpg


Develop solo-traveler friendly feature 
Voice-activated accessibility feature 
Social share and connect options

Solo-traveler friendly feature

We introduced this feature, knowing there would be more research and development needed. Currently a place-holder in the flow born of user-needs.
This could be extensively leveraged, distinguishing it from fellow competitors. 


Voice-activated safety/accessibility feature

As we witnessed international travelers using the interactive map apps while crossing the road, we noticed the danger inherent in not paying attention to the direction of traffic. A voice-activated warning can be implemented as an added safety feature. This would also support any visually-compromised users.  


Social share and connect options

Users expressed the desire to share the Experience (before and after the event) socially. In our next steps we would focus on building it out more. We'd also like to offer users the ability to connect with other Experience goers, much like the feature available to users on the Meetup app. 

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Adeel Dar, Genevieve Smith, Simran Bahan & Lauren Harris

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