DC Trails - Hop On Hop Off Tours
With over a million satisfied passengers and over 4.5 million safe miles annually, DC Trails is the premier tour bus company serving the Washington, DC, area. Their hop on, hop off city tours allow passengers to explore DC’s most popular tourist destinations at their own pace. They simply get on the bus at any of its stops, take it to the stop where they want to go, hop off to explore some destinations, and then hop back on when they are ready.
However, the passengers commonly encountered several key pain points. They didn’t know where to catch the next bus. Or they would go to a stop, not knowing when the bus would get there. They would have to call the dispatcher, in frustration, to find out. Then they would mention their frustrations in negative reviews on TripAdvisor and, especially, Yelp.
Working with the Sweetpea Mobile team, I conducted a survey to learn about existing and potential customers of DC Trails. I created personas using the survey data and used them to determine what features their mobile app should have in order to improve both the customer experience and the online reputation of DC Trails.
This app launched to Apple’s App Store on April 3, 2017; results are still forthcoming.
I began this project by reviewing the DC Trails website, watching videos of their tours, and reviewing what consumers had said about them. This gave me a sense of the business objectives that they needed to achieve with this project and the strong points and weak points of the services they offer. To understand their competitors better, I watched several of their competitors’ commercials.
Next, I drafted a list of survey questions. Our survey respondents came from three sources: recent customers of DC Trails, people who had liked the DC Trails Facebook page, and respondents from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).
Some of my initial assumptions were correct. I found that existing DC Trails customers were more likely than MTurk respondents to speak languages other than English, that a small percentage of hop on, hop off tour customers do these tours frequently, and that business travelers tend to be less price-conscious than personal travelers. Similarly, travelers who ran on a tight schedule tended more to travel with family and had a stronger interest in history. Lastly, people who would never take a hop on, hop off tour displayed a very distinct difference from everyone else.
Some of my other assumptions didn’t hold. For example, I found that people who visited DC spontaneously didn’t have a stronger tendency to tell friends about their trip on social media.
I also hypothesized that international travelers would have different needs from local and regional travelers, but this was inconclusive due to sample size.
Through 5 iterations of cluster analysis, I found that the users fit into 10 groupings. These became our personas. One was an outlier (a tour group leader) who was out of scope for this app. Two were clearly not part of our audience because they didn’t travel to major cities or they had no interest in a hop on, hop off tour. That left the other 7 groups.
The next several screenshots show how the personas evolved into their final version.
What was it like to work with me?
Sweetpea Mobile founder Pietro Rea, an iOS developer who formerly worked at Amazon, said this about my work:
"I worked with David on a mobile app project for about three months. He impressed me so much with his extensive knowledge of mobile UX, his strong work ethic and his professionalism that I decided to work with him exclusively on all UX-related projects going forward.
“I’ve worked with many UX professionals over the span of my career, but I've never worked with anyone as talented or reliable as David. One thing that sets David apart is the fact that he has a software development background. As a software developer myself, that meant that I didn't have to explain basic things like what a server is or what an API does and we could directly dive right into the product.
“David does a great job at balancing advocating for the user and keeping business goals front and center. If you're looking for someone who can come up with a great solution that will serve both business and user needs, David is your guy. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, David is kind and patient and fun to work with. I consider myself lucky to be able to work with him on an ongoing basis."
View wireframes and documentation
The wireframes are available on Axure Share and password-protected. Please contact us if you would like access.
Download DC Trails - Hop On Hop Off Tours
Visit the iOS App Store to download this app.
Contact our team
I’d like to thank DC Trails and Pietro Rea from Sweetpea Mobile for the opportunity to work on this project.