Paveline is an online platform that provides custom maps for senior travelers, which focus on the learning and accessibility of places.

 
 

 
 

Problem

Traveling and visiting new places can be a great experience, however when wayfinding, information and accessibility are lacking it can be limiting and frustrating for seniors.

Opportunity

How might we provide a richer visiting experience for senior travelers?

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Context

This project explores creating a startup and building a digital product for senior travelers. Taking on the role of CEO, I lead the team to visualize, strategize and develop the business and product vision for Paveline. By doing intensive user research, developing a Minimum Viable Product and conducting usability tests resulting in various iterations, we designed an online platform that provides custom maps for senior travelers where our product’s value proposition focuses on the learning and accessibility experience of traveling and visiting new places.

Visit Paveline’s Website —

elevatemap.wixsite.com/paveline

 

BRIEF

To build a startup with a Minimum Viable Product.

Our design process is based on The Lean Startup Method (Build, Measure, Learn).


TEAM

Jamie Catt, Jie Ji, Jie Mi, Tai Chen


ROLES

UX / UI, User Research, Design Strategy, Product Development, Design Leadership, Entrepreneurship


DURATION

September — December 2018

15 Weeks, Fall 2018


CLASS

InterDisciplinary Studio: Creative Founder — Kate Rutter

 
 
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Topic Exploration

Identifying What Our Startup Is

Our projected started by identifying what our startup would be by asking the questions: Who Is It For - What Will It Be - How Will We Make It?

As a team, we quickly found common ground on the people we wanted to design for, which were seniors. However, we struggled to find what to design for them. When we were doing a mind map we became quickly interested in exploring senior loneliness and finding out more about it.

 
 

 
 

Research

We wanted to know about senior’s experience with travel and accessibility so we conducted intensive research using the four methods below.

01 — We researched on senior travel trends and its market.

01 — We researched on senior travel trends and its market.

03 — We met with experts to ask about their opinion on senior travel and accessibility.

03 — We met with experts to ask about their opinion on senior travel and accessibility.

02 — We talked to seniors about their experience on travel.

02 — We talked to seniors about their experience on travel.

04 — We visited senior-friendly parks and gardens around The Bay Area.

04 — We visited senior-friendly parks and gardens around The Bay Area.


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User Insights

From our conversations, we learned that seniors are most likely to spend their time for leisure, such as travelling. This is mostly due to their retirement, since they have more time to explore other interests and activities. From the 30 interviewees we talked to, 15 of them mentioned that they love to travel and visit new places. 

Through our conversations, we discovered three problems when it comes to senior travel: Wayfinding, Learning and Accessibility.

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Problem & Opportunity

Problem

When it comes to travel, lack of wayfinding, information and accessibility can be limiting and frustrating for seniors.


Opportunity

How might we provide a richer visiting experience for senior travelers?

 
 

 
 

Minimum Viable Product

Changing The Travel Experience For Seniors

We created a user journey map to determine which part of the experience we intended to change. With this, we were able to clarify our goal when it came to the user experience. By changing the way seniors get accessible information, we wanted to create a unique and better visiting experience for them.


Getting Inspired By Physical Maps

From research, we learned that seniors value the physicality of things and they like maps that are printed. With that insight, we decided to be tangible with our MVP and made a rough prototype of a physical map that we based on The Japanese Tea Garden with the intent of user testing on location. This kicked off our user testing phase where we validated and iterated on our MVP.

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Developing, Testing and Iterating

Throughout our user testing, we based our process on the Build — Measure — Learn technique by The Lean Startup Method. We went out with the intent to learn how our product was being used by seniors and measured its success by finding things that work and iterating on things that didn’t work or areas that could be improved.

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Identifying Location Attributes

During the process of our site investigation, we found out that not every place will be suitable for us to map.

We visited three tourist spots around The Bay Area. As a team, we identified our location attributes that lived to our Design Principles and we used The Japanese Tea Garden as our reference point.

We came up with a list of attributes and decided that we want to places that have unclear accessibility information, nature or outdoor activities, uneven paths or ground texture, different elevations, such as hills, scenic spots to learn about, resting areas, such as benches.

 
 

 
 

Design Challenge #1

The Final Product: Digital Platform or Physical Map?

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Throughout our startup journey, we held late night discussions on what our final product would be. As we continued to build, validate and experiment our Minimum Viable Product, we were faced in a crossfire between wanting to address our users’ needs but also build a viable and sustainable startup business. From research, where we showed up with maps we designed and printed ourselves, we learned that seniors value the physicality of things and they like maps that are printed as opposed to digital but product scalability was extremely difficult, in terms of production and acquisition.

How We Approached It

We solved the problem by handing the choice to our users.

We asked ourselves: Why not give them both? Instead of printing the maps ourselves, we decided on providing a digital platform that gives users the option to print their map from home.

 
 

 
 

Final Product

Developing The Concept For The Digital Product

Based on our user testing insights, we developed the concept for the digital version of our map. We brainstormed what attributes we should put into the map and key features we wanted to focus on.

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Looking Into Existing Digital Solutions

With further research, we also analyzed the market and looked into four other online platforms and apps that provide maps and travel information. We found that none of them focus on providing learning and accessibility information on specific places that seniors can visit, such as parks and garden.

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Paveline’s Value Proposition

With Paveline, we wanted to gear towards simpler platform that provided the right accessible information for seniors. With that, our value proposition focused on the Learning Experience by providing them information on the places they visit, and Accessibility Experience by providing them the flexibility to customise their own route based on their interests and needs.


Designing The Digital Version

We designed an online platform that provides custom maps for senior travelers. The final map can either be downloaded on their devices or have a printed a physical copy.

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Key Features

We developed our the features of our online platform based on what we learned from user testing our Minimum Viable Product.

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Customizing Route Information

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Selecting Accessibility Options

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Adding Scenic Spots To Route

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Displaying Customized Route

This is how we envision the final map to look like after users have customized their route and information.


User Flow & Demo Walkthrough

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Design Challenge #2

Designing For Accessibility

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When we started designing the digital version, we were faced with the challenge of designing an accessible and senior friendly UI.

There were a lot of factors we had to consider such as — clickable buttons, large text, simple and straightforward language, and the hierarchy of information. We admit that we weren’t able to address much of the UI challenges as we became more focused on addressing the business side of our project. But upon 2 iterations of our Digital MVP, we learned a lot when it comes to designing a more accessible interface.

How We Intend To Approach It

Due to time constraints we lacked user testing for our digital version. We weren’t able to implement any changes that addressed any problems with the usability and accessibility of our UI. If we were to continue with this project, our next step would be to conduct user testing with the digital version of Paveline and make the UI more senior friendly.

 
 

 
 

Demo Video

Storyboard

To show how our product works in context, we created a storyboard for our demo video.

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The Business Strategy

Identifying Our Market

We wanted to see if there was a potential market. Our target market is the Senior Population who uses technology. Aside from secondary research the CMO of our team, Jie Mi, reached out to experts and organizations to ask about the market size of our users.

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Why Seniors?

From our secondary research with travel trends, we discovered that seniors are the biggest age group that travel locally and internationally. In addition, more than half of seniors living in America are tech savvy and knows how to use a digital device, and mainly use it to view maps online and plan their travels.


Developing Our Business Structure

As a team, we developed a Business Model Canvas to create structure for our startup.

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Developing Our Financial Structure

We created a Financial Model to see wether or not we will make profit as a business. With our model, we get revenue by offering premium maps, seasonal passes and having value-adding advertisements on our maps.


Measuring Success

At the end of our project, we conducted 2 user experiences with our physical map, 2 beta testings with our digital map, and acquired 5 signups.

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The Final Pitch

During our final pitch, we made a mock presentation to practictioners of the field such as Google, Frog, and McKinsey & Company with an initial ask of $400,000 to fund our startup. As a final result, we successfully acquired 10 out of 11 investors that were willing to fund us an amount of $1,600,000. View here to see what a result of our Final Pitch’s Review.

 
 

 
 

Insights

Building a startup has become an incredible and fulfilling experience for me. Through consistent user research, interviews and validating our product, I learned how to truly listen and constantly drive back to our user’s needs; through team leadership and weekly presentations that led up to a final pitch day, I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and build my storytelling and public speaking skills; through constant iteration and questioning of our business structure and people, I learned how to let go of assumptions, especially when it came to generalizing a group of people and their needs.

We tackled a sensitive topic that in itself has been a difficult journey for us as a team, but we worked together to make things work and happen. In the end, it’s not just key learnings about how to build a startup or develop business and financial models that I took away with me, but also how to be a better human, designer, listener and teammate.

I wrote more in-depth about my experience and learning with Paveline on Medium.