Project type: Speculative
My roles: End-to-end product designer
Zeit, a conceptual new brand from Virgin, has requested a responsive eCommerce website to help them sell time travel package vacations. They've also requested original branding and visual design.
Because time travel technology is so groundbreaking, users don’t trust that it's safe to use. They also worry about changing future timelines and creating havoc with time travel.
Building a responsive website that demonstraites and emphasizes the company’s commitment to safety could ease user concerns and encourage them to purchase a ticket to the past.
I ran into several problems during this project, namely with my user research and some of the choices I made for the site's UI. Each required extra time and research to correct.
I interviewed four people from diverse backgrounds (ages 18-53) who had varying degrees of travel experience. All four participants worried about time travel messing up the future, and three worried about their personal safety due to their racial or other identities.
Because my interview participants expressed strong opposition to the very idea of time travel, I created a survey to gather more data. From 32 responses I learned:
Because travel sites are one of the most well-established design trends, I decided to borrow from their standardized organization rather than create a new one. To validate this decision, I conducted a card sort.
I began by creating four sketches with each spotlighting a different feature. I realized that while it was important to highlight safety for new visitors, it would be just as important to make it easy for return users to quickly find and book a trip.
To make sure my designs would work in an interactive context, I created a prototype from the wireframes.
Inspired by air travel and the stunning natural color gradients of the sunset, I created a moodboard that also borrowed from existing Virgin brands to create an exciting yet inviting look and feel for Zeit.
Time travel suggests adventure and novelty so I wanted something unique and distinct for the logo and style — but I also knew from my research that users had concerns about safety, so I tried to find a balance.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't test the colors together before finalizing them. More on that in the next section.
Use the slider to see the before and after
The colors I'd initially chosen looked great in a gradient together, but totally clashed on the page.
Creating a package search menu that was visually pleasing and that also had all the functionality users needed was a major challenge.
Similar to the package search, finding a design for a reservation system that worked for the pre-set departure dates and times Zeit offers gave me a lot of trouble.
To test my design, I created a high-fidelity prototype of the main booking flow to conduct an unmoderated user test on Maze.co, and recruited 15 participants from the student design community.
To address user expectations, I implemented a drop down calendar in the package search.
One user reported thinking they'd landed on a vacation site selling trips to Greece rather than a time travel site.
One participant noticed the checkout breadcrumbs only had two states, which didn't make it clear when they'd completed a previous step.
If you'd like to test out Zeit's revised main search and reservation flow for yourself, you can check out my prototype (desktop only).
This project was a challenge through and through, but I'm grateful for the setbacks because they taught me a ton!
Unfortunately, I accidentally "wrote over" the initial versions of my designs, so I lost quite a bit of the earliest work. I would've loved to have that to refer back to for this case study, but lesson learned!
As I learned from my mishaps with the site's color palette, that headache could've been avoided if I'd spent a few extra minutes playing around with the colors in combination. Redoing the palette was costly timewise.
Finding people to talk to, scheduling them, then conducting and transcribing the interviews took more time than anything else in the project. I also had two participants drop out at the last second.
Conducting research in particular was a challenge, but I’m glad I took it on because it forced me to think outside the box. I also feel like taking on this project has given me the confidence to tackle any future travel project.
Again, because of time constraints, I wasn’t able to build every necessary page, so I’d like to work on the destinations and activities pages.
Also due to the time constraints of the project and the scope, I only made a homepage for mobile. I’d love to build out the rest and test it on mobile.
I only tested one aspect of this design. I’d love to test the Your Safety pages I made as well, and run a moderated study of my revised prototype.
While my prototype is perfectly functional as is, I’d like to add more animations and interactive elements to make it feel closer to a real product.