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CMU HCI Finalist, UX Research

UX Research helping roadtrippers plan their trips freely and share experiences



Objective: This project is designed for road-trippers to plan their trips freely and share their experiences with others.

Solution : How might we empower road-trippers to discover attractions and experience moments of delight worth sharing on their trips?

Duration : 3 months

Type Group Project, Product Design

Skills : Survey, Think Aloud Testing, Described Storytelling, Semi-structured Interviews, Speed Dating with Storyboards

Tools : Figma, Miro, Photoshop, Illustrator



COVID-19 has hindered the convenience of people's travel. Since then, road-trip has become a safer, more efficient, and more popular way to travel. The transfer from air travel to road travel is a trend for people who have concerns for their safety. These days, road-trippers can formulate road plans individually on Apps and websites. But what if there is a group of people road-tripping together? Our team set out to discover how to enrich a domain of travel famous for its wanderlust, spontaneity, and sense of adventure: road-tripping. Our research sought to identify the most acute pain points and moments of delight experienced by road-trippers ages 18-26 and leverage these insights to inform product design.

Background Research

Our team conducted background research to learn more about how road trippers plan their trips before.

What we did: 

  • We did both experimental research and informational research to find out about the roadtrippers' past trip experiences.


  • Many roadtrippers view the car ride as part of the vacation, not just a mode of transit.

  • Many roadtrippers want to take modern accommodations with them on the trip (i.e. RVs).

  • A lot of roadtrippers find planning the trip and executing it to be stressful, but worth it.

  • Roadtrippers want to share their plans with locals and other travelers to ensure they aren’t missing out on something.

  • A majority of roadtrippers would rather road trip for a long distance (500+ miles) than a shorter distance (100-500 miles).

Think Aloud


After screening and recruiting people ages 18 - 26 who have taken a road trip in the past year, we conducted directed storytelling and think-aloud protocol with each participant.

First, we used directed storytelling to elicit participants’ past experiences, pain points, and moments of delight while road-tripping. We will target these pain points and moments of delight during ideation.

Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (4).jpg
Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (3).jpg


Then, we had participants imagine that they were in distinct stages of the road-tripping process and think-aloud while doing a series of tasks. From these task analyses, we derived insights regarding how road-trippers evaluate attraction options and what kinds of trip-related content is most useful.

Affinity Diagram


Subsequent interpretation sessions with our data helped us develop an affinity diagram to generate the insights to the right.

Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (5).jpg

High-Level Insights:‍

  • Interests of each group member are important stop considerations.

  • Roadtrippers don’t want to forget potential stops they find while planning.

  • Roadtrippers don’t always plan a rigid itinerary.

  • Roadtrippers want to know what people who have been to the attraction/stop think of it.

  • Roadtrippers want to be carefree (free from cognitive load and stress).



Our team conducted a semi-structured interview with 4 people who have taken at least one recreational road trip in the past year.

Who we spoke to: 

  • 4 people who have taken at least one recreational road trip within the past 12 months.

  • Are ages 18 - 26.

  • Live in the United States.

What we wanted to learn: 

  • What makes a traveler decide to stop somewhere because of a recommendation/review?

  • What kind of road-trip-related content do travelers find most useful/engaging?




  • Travelers consider their own interests and the interests of others in their travel party when considering where to stop.

  • Travelers want to save potential attractions that interest them and then revisit them later so that they know what activities to do when they arrive at their destination.

  • Travelers often don’t plan their itinerary rigidly and make many decisions on the fly.

  • Roadtrippers want to know what people who have been to the attraction/destination think of it.

  • Road-trippers want to be carefree (free from cognitive load and stress) while on their trip.

Speed Dating


To ideate possible solutions, our team generated 12 storyboards that illustrated ways to improve road-trippers experience. We approached our problem from four main user needs:

  • I want every member of the travel party to enjoy what we do on the trip.

  • I don't want to forget about a cool potential spot if I come across one.

  • I want to be carefree (free from stress and cognitive load) while on the trip.

  • I don’t want to have a rigid itinerary for my trip.

Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (6).jpg


Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (7).jpg
Team 18_ Synthesize, Ideate, Define (8).jpg

A few storyboards that our team created

Participants: We interviewed another 4 potential users in total, all of which were aged 18 - 26 and have taken a road trip within the past year.

Goals: Validate or debunk our insights; validate or debunk design ideas; generate new insights and design ideas.

Overview of Findings & Insights

  • Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Some features and added value we proposed are already available in other apps with which people are satisfied.  For example, iMessage and Messenger are already meeting the user need of communicating attraction stops to the travel party.

  • Make it Easy: Users want identifying an appealing travel stop/destination to take less time than it currently does; suggested stops & destinations should be tailored to the users’ interests.

  • Make Attractions Organized: Users prefer to extract the location from the post/blogs information. They want an easier way to look back at potential attractions that they’ve identified.



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