Tauck

Since 1925, Tauck has provided unforgettable journeys for travelers on all seven continents in over 100 destinations and 70+ countries. Intimate, authentic travel experiences are made possible by their long-standing supplier relations around the globe.

Role UI/UX Designer

Deliverables User Stories · Wireframes · Hi-fidelity Prototype

Tools Axure · Sketch · InVision · UsableNet

Timeframe 6 months

Agency GeekHive

The Problem

The design produced by Tauck’s former design and development partner was beautiful, but not entirely user-centered. Frustrated luxury travelers struggled with an unintuitive search experience, cumbersome filtering functionality, and product pages that didn’t meet their expectations.

"How do we help our customers find trips and better understand our travel products?"

Opportunity

  • Align the search experience to customer motivators to search by date.
  • Align product page content with user expectations around what they’ll do and when.
  • Remove user journey dead-ends, such as no results.
Key Performance Indicators
  • Increase the number of repeat customers, especially among younger generations.
  • Reduce the number of dead-ends during the search user journey.
  • Decrease the number of customer support calls about how to book trips.

Research

To understand Tauck’s audience, I consumed customer research conducted by another firm and interviewed stakeholders to fill information gaps. We learned that Tauck’s primary users were generally older and not tech-savvy, but there was an opportunity to attract a younger, techy generation of wealthy travelers.

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Define

I worked with stakeholders to understand user pain points and motivators that emerged since launch. A competitor landscape analysis helped compare how other hotels and travel companies handled product searches. I translated these insights into user stories, which the team used to define the project’s scope.

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Ideate

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Branding

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UX Design

I wireframed several concepts that optimized search and product consideration journeys to demonstrate critical interactions. Wireframing helped identify content gaps and optimize user task flows.

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Prototype

Homepage Search

Before: Users struggled with unexpected and unwanted effects, such as the confusing upward animation of the search bar and disappearing search terms. A predictive autocomplete component also appeared, but the call to action to view all results fell below the fold, causing users to think there were no more trips.

After: I removed the animation and live search component, strengthened the search call to action, and aligned the experience with user expectations: search by location or travel type and departure date.

Search & Product Filtering

Before: Users had to work hard to navigate their search results because all filters stayed hidden behind a fly-out menu. Making filter changes on the fly required a lot of work, mainly because users couldn’t combine more than one filter per category. Not to mention, poor color contrast posed critical legibility issues.

After: To make filtering more useful, I use analytical data to drive the decision to move the filters to the search results page. I proposed moving less popular filters to the fly-out and removed disabled filters from view. I  a similar filtering experience to the product page.

Day-by-Day

Before: Users struggled with itinerary navigation because the configuration and flow of the trip’s schedule and map forced users to work hard to view the entire itinerary.

After: To optimize the itinerary navigation journey, I proposed a solution that enabled users to scroll through the schedule at their own pace and toggle between a map view and a list view.

Overnight Accommodations

Before: Originally named “Hotel Highlights,” this section didn’t present a chronological view of where travelers would stay in context to their travel itinerary. Customers are sometimes on a boat and sometimes in a hotel or may have multiple options to choose from. Therefore, “Hotel Highlights” was misleading.

After: Renaming the section to “Overnight Accommodations,” I redesigned this section to order the stays in chronological order, based on the trip itinerary. The struggle to understand upgrades and extending one’s stay warranted other design changes, such as the green ribbons and labels that appear on the overnight cards.

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Testing

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Results

  • The initial search became easier to use, focusing users on the location and travel date. Ultimately, this returned more accurate results.
  • The new “filter bar” puts more control into the users’ hands regarding finding a tour or trip of their liking. The most polar filters have prominent positioning.
  • In addition to several other minor tweaks, the client reported a much more effective search experience.
Lessons Learned
  • Conducting user interviews and testing would have helped ensure our solution was human-centered and usable.
  • Many creative agencies cut corners and jump straight to execution, which is why our engagement unveiled so many technical and UX challenges. Designing for a portfolio and omitting crucial UX artifacts doesn’t enable space to focus on user-centered experiences. 
  • Accessibility conformance doesn’t have to be difficult, but it is an essential investment as part of a larger marketing strategy.
In Hindsight...
  • I would’ve pushed harder for user testing (outside of the stakeholders) to validate design decisions with customers.
  • I should have doubled my time estimates to ensure there was enough bandwidth to produce more mobile designs.