Improving the information architecture of New York City's official tourism site, increasing B2B and B2C engagement

Improving the information architecture of New York City's official tourism site, increasing B2B and B2C engagement

Improving the information architecture of New York City's official tourism site, increasing B2B and B2C engagement

Improving the information architecture of New York City's official tourism site, increasing B2B and B2C engagement

NYC Tourism

NYC Tourism

NYC Tourism

Timeline

Timeline

Early 2022

Early 2022

My Role

My Role

Product Designer

Product Designer

Industry

Industry

Tourism, B2C, B2B

Tourism, B2C, B2B

Team

Team

Product Manager,
Development Lead,
UX/UI Designers

Product Manager,
Development Lead,
UX/UI Designers

Client

Client

NYC Tourism

NYC Tourism

About NYC Tourism

About NYC Tourism

B2C Side:

NYC Tourism offers visitors and NYC locals a way to explore the city and offers interesting locations, events, sights, and delicious foods of NYC.

B2B Side:

NYC Tourism is a platform where event planners, press & media, respective members and partners can advertise their business needs.

B2C Side:

NYC Tourism offers visitors and NYC locals a way to explore the city and offers interesting locations, events, sights, and delicious foods of NYC.

B2B Side:

NYC Tourism is a platform where event planners, press & media, respective members and partners can advertise their business needs.

This Case Study

This Case Study

This project case study highlights my UX research work for NYC Tourism's Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) site page. The primary focus of my involvement was using design methodology and using its findings to give better design insights. However, not all methodologies of research is showcased in this case study - only the notable highlights.

I was also one of the designers working on the web and mobile designs for NYC Tourism new DMO site page.

This project case study highlights my UX research work for NYC Tourism's Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) site page. The primary focus of my involvement was using design methodology and using its findings to give better design insights. However, not all methodologies of research is showcased in this case study - only the notable highlights.

I was also one of the designers working on the web and mobile designs for NYC Tourism new DMO site page.

Final Design

Final Design

The final designs presented in this case study are have been launched and implemented in the NYC Tourism website.

The final designs presented in this case study are have been launched and implemented in the NYC Tourism website.

The Ask

Improving the NYC Tourism digital experience

Appnovation, the digital consultancy I worked for, was approached by NYC Tourism to help them improve the overall experience of NYCTourism.com.

The Goal

Improving growth in a post-pandemic era

The goal of this project was to ensure NYC Tourism is a competitive platform spotlighting New York City, attracting locals and new travelers and economic growth during a post-pandemic period.

The Research

Conducting heuristic analysis, and competitor research

The team and I conducted UX heuristics audit on the site to get an in-depth understanding of what the core problem may be for users and businesses alike. We use these research findings to come up with a hypothesis which we will use to test. Which will be used as the driving factors for the final designs.

Focusing the Heuristic Evaluation at 3 specific criteria

The 3 specific heuristic criteria evaluation that we focused on are the following:

Auditing the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) digital experience

We realize that some of the UX features are core to the existing destination marketing organization (DMO)’s digital experience. So in this audit, using the previously mentioned criteria models, we focused on these 4 DMO features:

Filtering & Sorting: This functionality shows up in instances of search and also when a user is going through pages that contains large numbers of embedded links or jumping off points.

Directories: These are used primarily by travel trade professionals and meeting planners. It helps users narrow in on specific options from a vast list of pages.

Itinerary Builder: This tool allows the user to plan a trip with the help of a mapping tool, they can then share it with their friends and family members - mainly used by visitors.

Inspirational Content: This page showcases content such as articles, informing and inspiring travelers to visit NYC - mainly used by visitors.

Inspirational Content: This page showcases content such as articles, informing and inspiring travelers to visit NYC - mainly used by visitors.

Example of NYC Tourism’s severity rating for the Inspirational content page.

Example of NYC Tourism’s severity rating for the Inspirational content page.

Example of NYC Tourism’s severity rating for the Inspirational content page.

Let’s learn from competitors.
How they run the business?

During this heuristic audit stage, I also conducted a comprehensive UX heuristic audit from 4 other tourism websites and specifically researching their DMO pages.

Indirect Competitors I’ve analyzed:
Los Angeles
Nashville
Dubai
Holland

For each indirect competitor, the team and I created charts looking at the 4 features previously mentioned above (Filtering & Sorting, Directories, Itinerary Builder, Inspirational Content) to calculate an error percentage using the severity rating formula.

Example of Los Angeles’ inspirational content page severity ratings.

Example of Los Angeles’ inspirational content page severity ratings.

So, what did we find with our in-depth research findings?

NYCTourism.com is performing averagely in comparison to the other DMOs when it comes to content and design.

We found that NYCTourism.com has many errors with its information architecture. Further attention and improvements is necessary for better information structure.

Compared to other indirect competitor’s DMO sites, we found that NYC Tourism lacks in providing users different ways of getting to their required information. There’s a lack of a fully functioning search bar, menus, and general site navigation is not in accordance with the expectations of the user’s mental model.

The Hypothesis

Using our research insights,
we came up with a hypothesis

From our heuristic audit and in-direct competitive market analysis, the team and I hypothesize the following:

The current Information Architecture of NYC Tourism makes it unclear for users during their site navigation journey.

We believe this is why users stick to their usual paths without exploring new pages where they could discover more interesting, useful information and features.

Personas and Usability Testing

Creating assumption based personas based on existing user assumptions

Why assumption based personas?
We want to compare the assumptions based personas with the researched based ones after synthesizing our moderated interview findings.

Next Steps: Comparing what is good
From the comparison, we’ll see where NYC Tourism has been in terms of aligning with their user’s needs and behaviours.

Next Steps: Comparing what is bad
We’ll also see which assumptions were proven to be false, and gain insights into what needs to be focused on and addressed for future design implementations.

Personas and Usability Testing

Using the hypothesis to frame scenarios for the moderated usability test

Using the hypothesis that was concluded from the initial UX Heuristic report, I conducted and led the 25 moderated usability interviews at 1 hour long each. 3 hypothesis were used to informed these moderated tests, but for the purpose of this case study, I will focus on the third hypothesis which was:

Customers are unclear about what the sequence of their page journey should be.

Customers are unclear about what the sequence of their page journey should be.

Customers are unclear about what the sequence of their page journey should be.

— Our third user hypothesis

B2B
Meeting Planners
Travel Trade
Press and Media
Members

B2B
Meeting Planners
Travel Trade
Press and Media
Members

B2C
Visitors (Tourists and locals from different boroughs)

B2C
Visitors (Tourists and locals from different boroughs)

In Summary:
25 hours of user interviews.
25 unique users with different goals and needs.
5 user groups.

Personas and Usability Testing

What we found with the
moderated usability tests

Conducting the usability tests proved to be great insight because some of our findings were interesting and took me in a direction that I had not anticipated. From all the data and insights we gathered during the 25 hour usability tests process, my team and I grouped similar themes and synthesized all our findings into an affinity map.

Example of affinity map for NYC Tourism members and partners.

Example of affinity map for NYC Tourism members and partners.

Example of affinity map for NYC Tourism members and partners.

So, what insights did we gain with our moderated usability test?

Users had trouble remembering where they’ve found certain information

Users were completely unaware of so much additional content and features that were useful to them because of the current existing IA structure

Users felt very overwhelmed looking at the site, they often gave up performing certain tasks, and left the site feeling that their time spent was wasted

Some users stated that NYC Tourism’s contents were more engaging and interesting than other compared DMOs websites

The Solution?

Redesign NYC Tourism’s Informational Architecture

After confirming our initial hypothesis using real user data insights and also creating 3 researched based personas, the team and I decided to focus on redesigning NYC Tourism Informational Architecture.

Aligning insights from users and stakeholders and using design principles to focus on key solutions

The goal of the Informational Architecture's redesign is to:

Properly breadcrumbing to give users ability to move between different types of content without getting lost

Better signposting and labelling/copy to clearly indicate new content and useful features

Reducing the breadth of navigation menu and sitemap by merging similar categories helping users understand content organization

Showcasing the new NYC Tourism Informational Architecture Menu

After synthesizing the card sort and tree test findings, and looking into 13 other DMOs’ menus for ideation, this the new refined and simplified menu we’ve created.

Example of the new Information Architecture layout for NYC Tourism site.

Example of the new Information Architecture layout for NYC Tourism site.

The Design

Here are the final designs, fully shipped and with updated IA implementations

Working closely with the development and engineering team, the team and I created wireframes, and high-fidelity mockups of the final iteration UI web and mobile designs.

Before

After

Fully Responsive

Mobile Design

Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

What I learned during this 6 month project

What I learned during this 6 month project

Balancing the visuals and research: Coming into this project, I had a good understanding of standard UX research pipeline, but this project I was had to juggle both user research and the UI components. This proved to be challenging but I was able to learn to use real user data insights to create design decisions. I had to resist the urge to just design based on my biases.


Crafting a research presentation sometimes IS the point: This was the first project where I had to do a formal presentation of research findings, and I loved it. The process of crafting a presentation really helped me to internalize the insights pulled from user interviews and the analytics. Since then, I have been proficient in presenting my user insights and designs into interesting and engaging slide-deck presentations.


I enjoyed working with my team: I had an amazing time working with my fellow designers, I was fortunate to be mentored by many people within the organization from senior lead designers, C-Suite members, and engineers. I learned so much and I cherished our time together on this project.

Balancing the visuals and research: Coming into this project, I had a good understanding of standard UX research pipeline, but this project I was had to juggle both user research and the UI components. This proved to be challenging but I was able to learn to use real user data insights to create design decisions. I had to resist the urge to just design based on my biases.


Crafting a research presentation sometimes IS the point: This was the first project where I had to do a formal presentation of research findings, and I loved it. The process of crafting a presentation really helped me to internalize the insights pulled from user interviews and the analytics. Since then, I have been proficient in presenting my user insights and designs into interesting and engaging slide-deck presentations.


I enjoyed working with my team: I had an amazing time working with my fellow designers, I was fortunate to be mentored by many people within the organization from senior lead designers, C-Suite members, and engineers. I learned so much and I cherished our time together on this project.

Balancing the visuals and research: Coming into this project, I had a good understanding of standard UX research pipeline, but this project I was had to juggle both user research and the UI components. This proved to be challenging but I was able to learn to use real user data insights to create design decisions. I had to resist the urge to just design based on my biases.


Crafting a research presentation sometimes IS the point: This was the first project where I had to do a formal presentation of research findings, and I loved it. The process of crafting a presentation really helped me to internalize the insights pulled from user interviews and the analytics. Since then, I have been proficient in presenting my user insights and designs into interesting and engaging slide-deck presentations.


I enjoyed working with my team: I had an amazing time working with my fellow designers, I was fortunate to be mentored by many people within the organization from senior lead designers, C-Suite members, and engineers. I learned so much and I cherished our time together on this project.

Let's make amazing projects together!

Let's make amazing projects together!

Let's make amazing projects together!

Let's make amazing projects together!