Chronologically arranged affinity diagram
Phase 2: Analysis
This page covers the Analysis Phase of the Upscape Hotels case study. Use the numbered navigation below to skip to the methodologies I used, or scroll down to first read about the full project and the challenge presented.
Upscape Hotels, my (fictional) client, is an international hotel chain based in the U.S., newly formed through the acquisition of existing brands and independent hotels—each with its own website. They wanted to unify the chain identity and create a consistent user experience across all their properties by building a comprehensive website from scratch. They sought "to create an online booking experience that is simple, accessible, and based on a deep understanding of [their] target users."
Our (fictional) firm created two project teams, one for mobile and one for desktop. I researched and designed the booking pathway for the desktop team. My end products were a clickable medium-fi prototype and a set of annotated wireframes, ready for a developer and a UI/visual designer to bring to life.
Context and timeframe
UX Design Institute (Professional Diploma in UX Design)
July 2021 - February 2022
What did I do?
The full UX process:
Research - competitive benchmarking, online survey, in-depth interview, usability testing
Analysis - affinity diagramming, customer journey map
Design - user flow, interaction design hand sketches
Build - clickable mid-fi prototype, annotated wireframes
My role was limited to the desktop version of the site and focused specifically on the hotel booking process: how users search for and book hotel rooms online.
To create an online desktop booking experience that is simple, accessible, and based on a deep understanding of our target users (leisure travelers).
To maximize revenue through Direct bookings, a hotel chain must have its own booking website
Hotels receive 15-30% more revenue from direct bookings (e.g. bookings made through the hotel's own website) compared to bookings made through OTAs (Online Travel Agencies like Booking.com).
Direct bookings gained market share over OTAs even as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the travel industry.
Bernstein Research predicts continued "market share shifts to direct bookings" in its new report, Online Travel Agencies: "A Rough Guide to Online Travel."
"...direct booking is a key piece to the revenue puzzle." Hotel Tech Report January 2022.
The target user is the Leisure Traveler
Online hotel bookings are almost exclusively leisure or "bleisure" (combining business trips with additional days for leisure). Commercial travel arrangements are made through different channels.
Leisure travel now makes up the majority of room revenue (pre-pandemic, business travel generated more revenue). American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) & Accenture State of the Hotel Industry Report 2022.
An excellent (desktop) user experience is crucial
Hotels have an online cart abandonment rate of almost 83%. Statista, March 2021.
More than half of Millennials say they wouldn’t book a property if its website was difficult to use (Viga survey of 1,000 young adults aged 18-34 who had booked hotels in the past 2 years).
"Compared to business travelers, leisure travelers want more guidance for the booking process and more information about the destination." American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) & Accenture State of the Hotel Industry Report 2022.
Although more users now research hotels on mobile, the vast majority (over 70% of U.S. users) still use a computer to do the actual booking. EyeforTravel, SaleCycle.
Affinity Diagram [Miro]
I coordinated an Affinity Diagramming session with five other participants to help sort through the data collected during the research phase.
Participants recorded observations on sticky notes, color-coded by data source. We then put all the stickies on a wall and sorted them into meaningful groups.
Benefits of this approach:
Collaboration - Our groupings were refined by the different perspectives of team members.
Learning styles - The exercise allowed us to interact with the data in ways that engaged multiple styles of learning: spatial, auditory, tactile, linguistic, analytical, social.
As a result, I came away from the session with better groupings and a better grasp of the data.
Next, I replicated the wall digitally in the whiteboard app Miro. I arranged the groups to present the data according to a user’s chronological experience as they move through the process of finding and booking a room.
Customer Journey Map [Miro]
This map imposes even more structure on the data, presenting it in a tabular format with a “mood line” to approximate the user’s emotional state at each step in their journey. Observations are broadly categorized as positive or negative. Comparing the positive and negative data for each step in the journey helped identify friction or pain points that need special attention.
It should be noted that the observations in each column include data from at least 6 different sites: 4 from Competitive Benchmarking, 2 from Usability tests, and some unknown number from the Online Survey (we did not ask respondents what site they visited). As such, it does not represent a single customer's journey through a single site. It is an aggregate presentation in that it includes all the positive and negative observations in each column. An alternative would be an average approach, where positive and negative observations could cancel each other out , but I did not use that here. I wanted to retain all the positive and negative observations to serve as a list of dos and don'ts when designing the Upscape site.
(Reflecting on the entire case study, not just this phase.)
I conducted this case study as part of my Professional Diploma in UX Design from the UX Design Institute. Along the way, I gained firsthand experience with the full UX process. I increased my proficiency with several tools, including Sketch, Adobe XD, and Miro. And I saw how my perceptions, personality, and creativity make me a great fit for the field of UX.
This project underscored a few key principles for me:
UX is fundamentally a research discipline
Qualitative and observational data are the most insightful
Collaborative, multisensory analysis activities can help you absorb and internalize data
Being able to sketch lo-fi wireframes by hand is a useful skill
Take notes on the things you want to do better in the next project. Not everything will translate from one project to the next, but each is an opportunity to hone your craft.
Never stop learning, never stop getting better at what you do.