Elyzabeth Gorman Researching at the Rijksmuseum Library

Badass Tours

Storytelling tours about people left
out of the history books go digital

Role

UX/UI Designer

Timeframe

August 2020 – Present

Design Deliverables

Stakeholder Management

Strategy

Competitor Analysis

User Research

Wireframing / Prototyping

UI Design

UX Copywriting

Testing

The Challenge

Badass Tours tells the stories about the people who are left out of Amsterdam history books. Creating a self-guided tour app will provide a new level of flexibility and accessibility for tourists and locals alike.

We identified two primary challenges:

  1. Translating the high quality of a live experience to a digital platform. How do we capture the charm and humor of the host? How do we make space for the more serious stories for an audience who is on their own?
  2. How do we create a service that is as inclusive and as accessible as possible, addressing the goals of anyone who opts for a self-guided tour?

Scoping Out the Competition

While there are no competitors covering these themes or using individual storytelling, analyzing other self-guided tour apps gave us insights.

We tested their tours, noting what worked well and where improvements could be made.

User reviews through the app stores, both positive and negative, also provided valuable information.

Using Notion, I tracked features and pricing models:

Hearing Directly From Users

Interviews: Speaking with people who already knew Badass Tours allowed us to find out what they had connected with and what would make for a positive experience via a self-guided app.

Surveys: Feedback via questionnaires gave us details as to user habits and preferences. We learned that roughly 40% of travelers research tours  before leaving home. At the same time, a significant majority only begin their search for a local tour just a couple days in advance. We also learned what users need to see before booking a tour: price, duration, distance covered, and a sense of what they’ll learn about.

Personas & Journey Mapping: Equipped with a wealth of knowledge, I crafted personas of our two primary users – the discerning tourist and the curious local. They have been great collaborators ever since. I also crafted a journey map for our tourist for a clearer picture of obstacles and opportunities.

Making This Inclusive

Badass Tours already offered two options for guests: Women’s history & LGBT+ history. There were also plans to create additional walks to share the empowering history of more communities, adding to what we’ve come to call the “thematic walks”:

~ Women’s History
~ LGBT+ History
~ Black, Indigenous, People of Color History
~ Pre-WWII Jewish History

The app provided the catalyst to make all of them.

Making This Amazing

The big Aha Moment came as I was facing the challenge of how to give users the autonomy and flexibility that they desired.

We created four neighborhood-specific walks:

~ Historical Center
~ Western Canal Belt & Jordaan
~ Central Canal Belt & Museum Quarter
~ Plantage & Joodsebuurt

Each stop includes a bit of general history, and the user can then choose to discover additional nearby stories related to the four themes.

Accessible Design

Users opt for a self-guided tour for reasons beyond personal preference.

To name a few:

~ Those that are hard of hearing may not understand a guide.
~ Physically disabled guests may have difficulty keeping up with a group.
~ Guests with a newborn, or a relative with an intellectual disability, may worry about distracting others on a tour.

There is still much work to be done in this regard, but here are a few steps I’ve taken:

Audio and text options for all stories

Screenshot of in-tour stop at Rembrandtplein, emphasizing the text and audio option

Microsoft’s Inclusivity Toolkit

Screenshot from the Microsoft Inclusivity Toolkit

WCAG 2.0’s AAA compliancy

Screenshot of accessibility-colors.com

Figma’s ‘Color Blind’ plug-in

Screenshot of Figma's 'Color Blind' plug-in

Evolution of a Design(er)

As I developed as a designer, so did the design of the app.

Screenshot of Badass Tours app homepage version 1,
Screenshot of Badass Tours app homepage version 2
Screenshot of Badass Tours app homepage version 3
Screenshot of Badass Tours app homepage version 4

Original Imagery

We knew we wanted photos that captured the city with as few people in the shots as possible. There are also several locations whose historical significance doesn’t register with most. Because of the total number of locations, this meant mapping out several routes for photos and multiple pre-dawn mornings to get a head start.

Takeaways

User Research shows that there is a small but viable market for the Badass Tours app.

Defining the Problem helped frame the basic needs as well as uncover innovative solutions.

User Testing proves that we’re on the right track, but improvements can still be made.

Next Steps

As of writing this (autumn 2020), there is still plenty work to be done to make the Badass Tours app a reality. The new tours are still being developed as is further design on the app.

We aim to launch in 2021.