ABOUT TIME OUT
Established in 1968, Time Out provides entertainment, food, and drink recommendations to an international audience through print and digital media. Time Out has developed into a trusted global platform that inspires and enables people to experience the best of the city they’re in, providing original editorial content for users to find things to do as well as curated lists of the best films, food, attractions, art, culture, shopping and nightlife activities.
Operating in 108 cities, it has a monthly global audience reach of 242 million.
Time Out understands that to develop their brand and continue their success they need to
explore and develop new ways of engaging users - with new features, products and services.
Time Out feels there is an opportunity to appeal to their user base in a different way; to
leverage their current service and the technology in their current mobile app and create a
social network based around individuals or groups meeting face to face, in real life.
A mobile application that incorporates all the best qualities of Time Out along with new features to make it future-proof.
By now, we all have favourite apps we use for our needs and it is hard to convince people to change that. The best solution for us was integrating the most popular apps through APIs. Our users would have the chance to continue the conversation in-app or continue it with their friends outside. There would be pros in having the conversation in the app, like being able to automatically book for all the people that accepted the invitation and a point system that we didn’t have time to explore fully.
We also tackled the issue with the reviews as most users we talked to considered the Time Out recommendations not very authentic. By rewarding users that leave reviews with early-bird tickets and discount, MyTime Out would soon accumulate enough review to feel authentic and users would not need to cross-check reviews with other platforms.
With this project, we wanted to bridge this chasm and bring people together, have them interact more so that they wouldn’t feel so lonely anymore
A Time Out article will be shared on Facebook, someone will click on it, browse through the options for something to do on the weekend and then will discuss it with friends over WhatsApp. We wanted to bring this scattered experience together, group these many needs under one app.
Our first step was to put the current Time Out app to test, we gathered 10 people and asked them what was their first impression and to go through some simple tasks. We asked them to voice every thought they might have in regard to the usability of the app and we took note.
To structure our judgement, we used Nielsen’s 10 values for heuristic evaluation.
The results from the testing were quite neutral. The app was very similar to the website, so everyone already familiar with Time Out had no issues navigating it. People new to it though found it a bit crowded with information and were not entirely sure where to go to search for something specific (without using the search box).
We found that the app would crash at times and users found the design to be outdated.
Out of 10 people, they all found the content to be interesting and many of them showed genuine interest in some of the events or places displayed on the app.
After testing the Time Out app, we started having a look at what the market offers. There were almost countless apps that would serve the function of advising users on where to go out and how to spend their times. We decided to concentrate on the most famous ones and those that would have already a social aspect.
We decided to use the SWOT Competitive Analysis, a framework used to evaluate a company’s competitive position and to develop strategic planning.
Time Out made finding our users easier by sharing the demographics of their users. We knew then that women use it more than men and that we should target users from 20 to 35 years old.
We started sending out surveys and organising interviews to find out more about their habits when it came to going out.
This research was something we could easily relate to, as we ourselves are living in a big city and trying to get the most out of it, so the findings were not too surprising:
80% of people like to plan in advance (mostly due to the fact that in London it is very hard to find last-minute solutions).
85% would find inspiration to go out from social media.
75% would trust Google and TripAdvisor reviews and would always check before going out. They would get recommendations from Time Out but always cross-check for reviews.
We also tried to identify the main pain points, the area that would require more work on our side, and what came out was:
People dislike complicated booking systems almost as much as they like ringing a place to book, which is not surprising as we concentrated mostly on millennials.
When deciding as a group, users find it complicated to reach a decision that will make everyone happy and often they don’t like being the person in charge of organising the outing.
After the interviews and survey, we started mapping out results to have a comprehensive outcome and make our next steps more clear.
Our main reason for creating an Experience Map was to understand the general human behaviour around going out. In the interviews, we had previously asked people to describe in detail their last outing, from the decision until the going out itself, or also the failure to do so, as that also would need to be factored in.
We did more maps to help us through all the material that we had gathered, to filter through what was useful and what not. What would have led us later in the creation of our app and what we could have set aside.
It was thanks to this previous step that we created our persona, Nina, to help us further pin down the main pain points of Time Out users.
Nina needs a way to easily find places and book for outings with her friends because she’s very busy and doesn't have enough time.
We believe that by creating an app with an easy booking process and where friends can join the conversation we will save Nina a lot of time and frustration. We will know this is true when she and her friends will meet more often and therefore will feel less lonely.
HOW MIGHT WE
How might we ensure that every outing is memorable?
How might we bring friends together to create a collective experience?
How might we make the booking process simpler?
Sketching and Wireframing
During the Design Studio, we gave way to our craziest idea, some of them were completely out of reach but they were great as a group exercise to see the direction that we wanted to take and many of those implausible solutions gave us inspiration for features that we were going to develop.
Inspired by the design studio, we started outlining some initial sketched for the prototype. We went into user testings almost immediately after, and subsequently after most changes we did, always making sure we were on the right path.
There’s something unique in coming together after user testings and finding out where we went wrong, what we can improve on.
Our first solution was too intricate, every user required very extensive explanations to go through the flow.
We stripped it and made it simpler. I also found that going into user testing more often will prevent getting attached to a specific idea and it will be a lot easier to kill, and I also learnt that there’s no point blaming the sketches for the lack of understanding. This is the UX version of “If you can’t explain it to your grandmother, then you don’t really understand it”; “if users don’t get it through sketches, they will likely not get it in hi-fidelity”.
This is by far the part that I like the most, seeing your idea turn into reality, from abstraction to concreteness. Sometimes it’s rewarding, sometimes you realize there were gaps in the previous parts and you have to go patch them up.
Having done a lot of work on the sketches until the message was clear and simple, the mid-fidelity didn’t require too many changes, mostly some wordings on buttons were confusing. We had to face the reality that not everyone will have all of their friends in the app, so we gave the chance to start the conversation on WhatsApp or other chats and the share the event to any social media.
During the mid-fidelity user testing, we also decided to add an onboarding process to explain the functions of the app and to select the user’s interests, so that the app could give more tailored recommendations.
It also came up in testings that by having the user write down some of their details in the onboarding, they would be more likely to create an account.
Style and Branding
One of the menu options in the original app was this small button called “My Time Out”, where you could store your saved events and places.
That’s how we decided to name the app “My Time Out”. We wanted to play on the fact that users would decide with this app how to plan their time out.
We also decided to change the icons, we substituted “Explore” in the bottom nav with a calendar, as many of the people we interviewed like to have a clear plan. The calendar could then we integrated through an API, either Google or Apple calendar.
For the style, we decided to maintain the original Time Out style guides, but we flipped them; we used the current secondary colours as primary, to give the app a fresher looking interface.
We were reassured in this decision by the positive feedback we got when we tested this change in the look of Time Out, even people that were loyal and passionate about the brand didn’t feel it was too far away from the original branding.
The scenario that I imagined for the flow was Nina organizing an evening together with all of her friends and she finds a gallery opening that they can all attend.
If you want to check all the screens, you can do so in Behance.
What I've learnt from this project
Something that I learnt on this project was to prioritize and stick to the brief. Even though it was a concept project, we had to consider the brief as coming from a real client, even if it meant ignoring some very good ideas that we could have applied to it.
Even though it’s not the first time I come across this, but the importance of killing an idea if it doesn’t work out, and especially when working in a group, to embrace someone else’s idea when it’s better than yours. I find that openly complimenting other team members’ ideas is great for boosting morale and making everyone feel accepted. I am really glad I was working with a group of people that understood this.
To bring out your ideas and immediately test them with the outside world or you risk spending time on something that you will need to scratch later.
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