As part of a joint effort, the Korean Ministry of Tourism and the Korean Tourism Association have launched a new campaign to improve access to transportation and travel infrastructures for English speakers in Korea (Tourists and Residents). It is within this dynamic that I have worked on the design of a new web platform allowing non-Korean speakers to search and book any means of transport to travel within Korea. This effort takes place in a broader plan post-pandemic of modernisation of existing services.
Please note that this is a fictional project created to practice UX design as part of Design Lab.
Design a website offering English-speakers, traveling or living, in Korea to book any means of transportation within the country.
what i did ?
4 weeks (80h)
In order to understand more about the gap between local offers and foreigners' expectations, I started by analysing how current services were addressed to English speakers.
If most of Korean airlines' websites follow common western design patterns, local train companies ( such as Korail) and major bus booking services (such as Kobus) can be frustrating to use as these services simply translated their content into English, but little to no effort has been made in terms of adapting the user experience to the targeted audience. These services can also be especially hard to use if you don't already have some knowledge about Korean geography.
Now that we have a better overview of the local offers' pains and frustrations, it is time to listen actual users. I have interviewed multiple foreigners in Korea ; from the long-term resident, fluent in Korean ; to the student freshly arrived in Seoul with no prior Korean-language abilities.
Local websites' ease-of-use for foreigners living in Korea for a while will highly depend on their ability to handle the language. If Korean speakers admit not having much language's issue, they also explained often struggling with the odd design patterns and poor level of information architecture.
Foreigners traveling in Korea are facing an additional difficulty. Indeed, if the language and culture are still the main barriers, the lack of accurate sources of information is another important one and often require travelers to double-check any information gathered online or while reading a travel guide.
These highlights allow me to understand more about local offer and its weaknesses in terms of adaptation to foreigners in Korea. I could also get a better understanding of users needs and how my product should help them to narrow the gap between their expectations and current offers.
I then proceed to build personas based on above research in order to help me to have a better vision of whom this product' users are.
Who am I designing for ?
36 - Sales Manger - Live in Korea since 6 yers
Ken came in Korea 6 years ago as an exchange student. He met his Korean wife at that time. They are now married and have 2 daughters. He is currently working as a sales manager in a middle-sized Korean company.
28 - Customer Service Agent - Live in Austin, and just landed in Korea for 2 weeks.
Working for a big tech company, Amelie saves most of her incomes in order to travel. This the first time she visits Korea and is full of excitement. But she is also a bit worried to travel by her own in a country where she can't communicate easily.
What do they need ?
What is the solution ?
In order to fulfill this mission and with the light of the research's I have made, I have decided to design a responsive website allowing non-Korean speakers to book bus, trains and flights in one place and to get extensive trip's information before and during their journey.
The product must include:
Features to search and book any means of transport within Korea.
Western design patterns to reduce user learning effort and improve experience.
All information must be provided in english to reduce travel stress due to language and culture barriers.
Reduce the gap between real-life experience and users skills & knowledge (adapt real wayfindings into the service to provide a seamless experience).
Support users in all their travel's stages, from the booking process to the journey itself.
Users Flows & Sitemap
Now that I have a clear vision on what my product should offer to users, it was time to dig more in details on how to translate this into workable patterns. I first decided to analyse which path my users would take while using my product to understand how they would use it.
I built multiple users flows to help me in that process. Each of them will highlight a flow that a user would follow when using this product while his decision-making process is impacted by either a specific emotion (stress...) or a precise outcome in mind.
We already know that users need a simple and efficient process to look for available transportation to reach any destination so it was important to develop a sitemap that reflects this point. The homepage will immediately allow users to search for trips while the rest of the sitemap is organized to let users get as much information as possible regarding their trip but also on how they can get support if needed.
After studying some of the most common design patterns used by current websites that offer similar services, and after few sketching, I have worked on applying all the information I got into designing mid-fidelity wireframes.
Brand Logo & Style Tile
As this project is focused on creating a product from scratch, it's essential to spend some time on the identity of the product. To this end, I have decided to create a simple logo to strengthen users' feeling of using a professional product that they can trust. In the same order, I have selected some colours that, in addition slight variation of Korean's colours, will allow to support information architecture within the product.
A mix of tradition and modernity.
Combining a stack of ticket with the Sam Taegeuk, popular variant of the Korean flag.
A colour selection to support information architcture.
Colours have been selected to match Korean traditional ones but slightly customised to reflect the modernity of the product.
UI Design for Desktop
An UI focusing on delivering the best search and book process.
An easy process allowing users to find all available trip options and access extensive information.
As we saw that many users visiting this website will have low to no knowledge about Korean geography, the search widget will offer autocompletion to reduce frustration due to misspelling or lack of information.
It was important to organise the information to avoid users to be lost in data and to reduce the stress that selecting a trip in an unknown country can be.
For each available trips users can get extensive information in one place. Along with basic essential information, such as price (that can be automatically converted in any other currency), schedule... users will be able to consult stations' address and map, vehicle amenities...
As an official service, this product would be able to work closely with Naver, major tech company in Korea to use Naver Map API, offering users the best integration and accurate, up-to-date, map data.
UI Design for Mobile
An UI focusing on the user experience before and during the trip.
When users are heading to their destination, a simple login to their account to have access to the live tracking popup on the homepage, providing basic information on their journey.
Accessing their trips details, users will be able to consult valuable information about their journey, such as vehicle amenities, but also about their destination.
An important part in the product development is to verify if the solution designed responds to the problem defined earlier. For this matter I have built two prototypes that I have tested both face to face with users in Korea, and online (using Useberry).
If all users agreed that the website follows known common patterns and that they felt comfortable while using the product, they also highlighted the fact that such design could help to reduce stress while searching and booking tickets for transportation in a foreign country without having to care about any language issue. However, most users also encountered some friction points:
Allow users to select a time frame when searching for available trips.
Improve "Book" label in order to reduce frustrations.
Improve Live tracking's button label to invite users to access trip details information.
Add popup to teach users about the existence of the live tracking feature.
Adding additional language options would extend the product's target and audience. Next languages to be integrated should be: Chinese, Japanese and other South Asian languages in order to reflect tourism statistics.
Improve integration with Naver map to add in-city means of transport (bus, subway, taxi...). This feature would allow users to get door-to-door trip information.
This project allows me to learn a lot about cultural differences in UX. I realised that if foreigners living in Korea for a while can manage to assimilate UX local practices ; or at least find a way to work with these design patterns ; it would be very different for travelers. We could think that struggling with local UX could be part of the travel experience, we all had experiences trying to order food at a restaurant in a foreign country ; it was a bit embarrassing, but also somehow enriching. However, I believe that UX should serve users in the best way and let these enriching experience for the real-life. In a world more and more connected and with travel becoming more and more easy, no doubt that the UX translation is a subject that will gain importance.