Time travel. Experiences once lost to time can now be experienced again thanks to a ground-breaking time travel technology developed by Elon Musk and Richard Branson.
Zeit is the first company in the world to curate destinations in the past for guests to visit.
Disclaimer: This is a fictional website/brief.
I designed the total front-facing experience for guests, including website, app, and hospitality services.
Design a complete experience package for users to book a trip, travel back in time, enjoy their stay for a duration, and return to the present.
This project was ambitious from the start. With no other company offering time-traveling services, I had to look towards more indirect competitors for research opportunities.
Zeit doesn’t sell a physical product that you can hold in your hands; instead, they sell experiences with a value that is only measurable by the person experiencing it.
Time travel is currently impossible, meaning I would have to opt for imaginative imagery such as art instead of photography to communicate visually.
the reality of travel
I interviewed several differently experienced travelers; here are my insights and findings.
Unfortunately, due to scope, I can’t solve traveling in confined spaces. Still, I can reduce the remaining frustrations and focus on improving the experience with the user’s needs at the forefront.
When asking myself how users would find the information they are looking for, these are the three most fundamental questions I could ask:
- When does the destination exist in time?
- Where on earth is the destination located in that period?
- What kind of experience do users expect to encounter at this destination?
The first two questions are easy to determine; if you want to target a specific event in history, time and place will already be predetermined.
What remains is how users perceive these moments in history. I devised a card sort of 19 different historical moments with descriptions and asked users to sort them via experience type.
I learned that users grouped historical moments into six distinct categories, Science, Family Friendly, Literature, Dangerous (later relabeled Thrilling), Romantic, and Cultural.
And with that, I have a fully-fledged information architecture for destinations!
Hierarchy and flows
The next step is figuring out how to organize the information clearly and ensure it is easy to navigate through.
I considered the standards of the booking industry and did my best to adhere to them while cautiously removing bits that did not fit the service.
My goal with my sketches was to include information that the user would want to see and explore ways to approach each type of content for the home page.
During user research, the users I interviewed mentioned they preferred hunting for obscure and exciting locations. It made sense to focus on the search feature and have it sit prominently on the home page.
With that in mind, it made sense to reduce the number of destinations on the homepage to leverage users into searching over browsing.
The Hi-fi prototype
Through various wireframes, feedback, and usability testing, I finally ended up with a high-fidelity prototype that focuses on the journey of user choices.
Now users can use a few different methods to get the information they need and access all the tools necessary for a trip to the past.
I learned many new things while working on Zeit. Listed below are just a few that stood out to me that I wanted to share with you.
- It is okay to fail.
- It is okay to ask for feedback when I’m stuck.
- I am not the user; how I find information is not how others will.
- Prototypes should not be perfect; make them quick, get as much feedback as you can, and iterate a lot.
A note from the designer
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my case study. It is the first UX project I completed from start to finish. While it isn’t perfect, I am ready to take on the next challenge, and I am better for it.