Jake Doering - Product Designer

Design exercise • Square

 
 

Design Exercise: Teleportation

 
 
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The Challenge

Taking no more than a few hours, please wireframe a high-fidelity solution for the project below by showing screens mapped to step-by-step tasks. Accompany your solution with any notes or photos needed to express your thought process. We'll be looking to understand your system-level and interaction design thinking.

Project Definition

Teleportation is the theoretical transfer of matter or energy from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them. It is a common subject of science fiction literature, film, and television. You’ll be designing a mobile iOS app that uses teleportation to transport you from one place to another instantaneously.

Requirements to Sketch

  1. Your sketches should show us both the overall navigation of the app as well as workflows related to the requirements below.

  2. The app should be able to take you to places you go often (work, home, etc).

  3. The app should be able to take you to places you infrequently visit that are farther away (Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, etc).

  4. You should be able to view places you've teleported to in the past.

  5. Express some complications that arise from not having a line of sight to where you’re going.

  6. Highlight how other apps or OS-level features could be integrated.



Strategy

Generally, my design process draws most from the ideo/d.school’s Design Thinking and the GV Sprint, though it varies and adapts to context. I pull in favorite strategies depending on factors like a product’s lifecycle, opportunities for team collaboration, my level of engagement with a company or client, and company stage.

This design challenge’s purely hypothetical and time-constrained nature necessitate some unusual compromises to process – like relying on assumptions in lieu of qualitative design research, well-defined product & business goals, or technology constraints. 


Research-related assumptions

  • In lieu of a qualitative research process with end users and stakeholders, I’ll treat myself as a perfectly representative persona of the product’s users.

  • I’ll assume anecdotal insights and intuition are validated for this exercise. My best guesses about user needs, goals and behavior reflect reality.

Product- & technology-related assumptions

  • Teleportation technology requires only your phone. No ancillary device required.

  • Teleportation technology exists at the OS-level, and isn’t relegated to a 3rd-party app. Affordances for teleportation can be seamlessly integrated throughout the OS.

  • For the best user experience, let’s assume travelers can teleport to destinations more specific than an address.

Understanding the problem

Empathy & need-finding

Typically, my process begins with qualitative research aimed at understanding the problem at hand and building empathy for the users affected. This looks like lots of conversations with customers or prospective customers, business and product stakeholders, and experts that can serve as proxy for end users. 

For this exercise I’ll rely on intuition and anecdotal evidence in lieu of real qualitative research, analyze conventions and relevant products, and reference a couple relevant insights from industry research. So let’s get to it.

So, what are the most fundamental needs of travelers or people who would like to teleport? How do travelers currently reach their goals when booking travel? Are there any surprising or unexpected behaviors to be observed?

Observation
Anecdotally, there there are 2 teleportation-related statements that I’ve heard over and over again in conversations:

  • “I wish I could teleport to you right now.”

  • “I wish I could teleport to my bed right now.”

Insight
People frequently want to teleport to other people, not just locations.

Insight
People frequently crave instant access to familiar, personal and comforting locations.

Observation
My most enjoyable travel experiences are all defined by those I’m traveling with.

Observation
Every travel product, from air to hotels to ride-share, affords booking travel for multiple people.

Insight
Traveling is often a social experience. People like to do it together. 

Quantitative research confirms most people prefer to travel with friends and family.

Quantitative research confirms most people prefer to travel with friends and family.

Conventions & benchmarking

 
 

Most on-demand travel apps prioritize a map view. In fact, the designs of Uber and Lyft are essentially identical, save for Uber’s relatively new rewards program and Lyft’s brand new tab bar. There are valid reasons to prioritize a map view:

  • If travelers are picked up by their transport method, it’s important for travelers to verify where they currently are.

  • If your search is location-based and high-intent (ie “I’m looking for a hotel near a work event in San Francisco”), a map view is useful.

As we move towards more open-ended contexts, interfaces change.

  • Kayak abandons the map view, but prioritizes a home view that assumes users know exactly what they want.

  • Airbnb goes further up the funnel, prioritizing discovery for travelers who are exploring during the early stages of planning a trip.

One interesting discrepancy: despite sharing an industry, Hotel Tonight chose a location-oriented interface and Airbnb chose a discovery-oriented interface. My analysis: Hotel Tonight’s brand position dictates that they design for users with high intent who are already at or en route to their destination, while Airbnb focuses on the earlier, explorative stages of trip planning.

Mapping the problem

 

Ideating with sketching

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I. Convention

Given the ubiquity of the map view for on-demand travel, I would imagine most designers would start here. On first thought it seems appropriate. After all, it’s a strong convention that should be usable for any traveler.

In reality, the map view represents a surface-level understanding of the problem. This design pattern’s value is based on assumptions that don’t apply in a world where teleportation is possible and a traveler can go anywhere, from anywhere, and travel time isn’t based on distance.

  • Given there’s no portal or pickup required, a traveler’s current location is irrelevant.

  • Given that a traveler can teleport anywhere in the world with ease, the “route” between origin and destination also becomes irrelevant. There is no route.

 
 

How might we rise above technology assumptions & constraints to design the best travel experience, in a reality where teleportation is possible?

  • A traveler can teleport anywhere, at any level of specificity (ie inside of homes & specific rooms) creates privacy and security concerns.

  • A traveler can teleport to another person, anywhere, anytime.

  • A traveler can "drop a pin” at a specific physical location to favorite it and return later.

How might we resolve complications that arise from not having a clear line of sight to a destination?

  • Assume all travelers are authenticated reliably before teleporting (ie face ID, scanning the body’s electromagnetic field, etc)

  • All companions must be invited and authenticated via the app to join a trip.

  • Travelers can “request” to teleport to destinations on private property, and must be approved by the owner/tenant in order to teleport (we can assume there’s a reliable record of who lives where.)

  • Public locations can designate and manage arrival points.

  • Assume teleportation will be received and regulated by society similarly to recent innovations in personal mobility. Just as events, popular locations and airports designate specified areas for ride-share drop-off and pickup, we can assume popular destinations will designate finite, public space for teleportation arrivals. With finite space for arrivals, the app will use a queue system to maintain safety at popular destinations.

 
 
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II. A more relevant approach

A focus on discovery offers more value to travelers in a world where their present location isn’t relevant.

Quickly accessible favorites make it easy for utility-based travelers to access frequent destinations like home and work.

Curated destinations help explorative travelers discover new places and encourage frequent engagement.

An Airbnb-reminiscent interface is an improvement over ride-share patterns, but it doesn’t leverage the possibilities introduced by teleportation towards any new or innovative features.

 
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III. A unique solution tailored to the problem

A question oriented this solution away from conventions and towards goals and behavior: what motivates someone to go somewhere?

  • Wanting to be at a favorite or familiar place (“your favorite places”)

  • Wanting to be with a person (“your favorite people”)

  • A need to do something or meet someone somewhere (“coming up” calendar integration)

  • Wanting to go experience something new (“discover”)

  • Wanting to do something (activity-based discovery)

A tab-based navigation breaks up distinct behavior flows

  • a curated, context-aware “home” view for quickly solving everyday travel needs

  • a sticky search bar in the thumb zone for quickly finding known destinations

  • a “discover” view for exploring new destinations and ideas

  • a “history” view for viewing prior trips

  • an “account” view for settings, payment plan, etc.

Travelers can easily travel to their favorite destinations or request to meet their favorite people from the home screen (app integrates with contacts and/or "find my friends”).

A calendar integration helps travelers quickly get to where they need to go.

 

Prototyping the solution

I chose the last concept for further exploration and prototyping based on the user stories provided:

  1. The app should be able to take you to places you go often (work, home, etc).

  2. The app should be able to take you to places you infrequently visit that are farther away (Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, etc).

  3. You should be able to view places you've teleported to in the past.

  4. Express some complications that arise from not having a line of sight to where you’re going.

  5. Highlight how other apps or OS-level features could be integrated.