Besides being my bachelorthesis GetOut! is also kind of a pet project. While working on a hiking guide I wondered about how modern technologies could support hikers along their way. As I love hiking myseld a lot but am not that experienced I did a lot of research – mostly reading studies and taking interviews – to find out about the problems and needs of hikers. To explore new possibilities I focused on longer, multi-day hikes.
During this project I worked in several domains like design research, service design, visual design, prototyping and animation. I structured my process along the User Centered Design Process and chose to include several methods of it like interviews, personas, user stories, wireframes, OOUX or usability tests – to just name a few.
The project consists of three parts: the service model as a conceptual basis, the app and the visual design. It all comes together in the prototype.
Getting to know the audience
During the interviews I learned a lot about hikers and their motivation for going on hiking trips. Generally speaking hikers are energetic and have a certain drive to go out and explore. They go on a hike to feel free and be able to examine the own boundaries. Hikers urge for individuality and flexibility, especially while being on a hike. When planning a longer trip they are very meticulous about the details to avoid serious situations. Nevertheless every hiker has a different approach on how much has to be planned.
Even though some studies back a lot of the insights a lot more research should be done to strengthen these findings.
Sketching a service for hikers
GetOut! supports on three different levels – the inspiration phase, while planning a trip and during the hike.
When searching for a new trail the website provides a ton of existing tours. Those can be looked through and filtered to find one that really suits your needs.
The planning tool helps to, well, plan your trip. It automatically calculates the best route after setting start and destination points. Of course the route can be adjusted. The tool provides possible accomodations. You can book in advance or just note them for later. To complete the planning process you can also book train or plane tickets.
All maps, tickets etc. can be made offline available with the app. You can adjust your route and accomodations on the fly if the situation changes. The weather in mountain areas can change quickly and especially thunderstorms are hard to predict. GetOut! will warn you about changing weather conditions as early as possible and offers alternatives. You can leave a note for other hikers on the map. Of course you can read as well what other people have to say about the area you roam. When approaching an accommodation GetOut! will take care of the check-in to not have you wait in line.
Making an app that helps along the way without distracting
The two most important features of the GetOut! app are a) to change your planned route and accommodations easily on tour and b) to be warned about bad weather conditions early in advance and get helpful information about how to proceed. These were my main goals to display in the app.
The final product results in two prototypes which illustrate the main features of the app.
The main navigation includes a handlebar that can be used to change the proportions of map and content. When scrolling the content and reading the stage description, proportions change automatically.
To enrich the maps information cards, floating above the map, are used. The cards have several states and can display additional information.
A description of each stage is generated automatically. Booked tickets and tips about local sights or restaurants are also included.
In case of bad weather the app shows a simulation of how the weather changes during the next couple of hours. It also includes – if possible – several alternative routes or accomodations to avoid dangerous situations.
While developing the GetOut! app I wrote one-sentence-stories, sketched out wireframes and used the Object Oriented UX technique to structure my process. Several usability tests helped me to find weak spots in the prototypes and stay on track.
Finding a visual expression for whats around during a hike
My aim for the look of app and service was to include the experience that hikers have while being around in the nature into the visual language. Therefore I asked the interviewees about their emotions while hiking and what hiking means for them. The core values my interviewees connected with hiking or looked for in equipment they use were:
quiet, light, free, natural, activating, clear, reliable.
I clustered my findings and searched for visual equivalents. The resulting moodboard helped me to find several graphic principles I was able to build upon.
These graphic principles are the basis for the visual concept that defined the visual language of app and service. This visual concept was the starting point for the app design. Whith designing the screens the language developed.