From the implementation to the strengthening of product position on the market (2018)

HolidayCheck Cruises

This case describes the stage of a product's life from the moment it appears on the web to the moment it undergoes significant changes resulting from intensive research and attempts to understand human behaviour and expectations.

Project background

HolidayCheck is a German company which was one of the first website for holidaymakers. Since 2007 in HolidayCheck you have not only been able to find hotel offers, but also an opinion about ships. However, in 2018 it was possible to purchase a cruise offer on the new website - HolidayCheck Kreuzfahrten. 

The Problem

The new website appeared on the web very fast, but in the first stage, it required many improvements and understanding of people who are interested in cruises. It was a significant simplification to rely on the widespread belief that cruises are for older, rich people. The product required not only solid research but also an accurate translation of the data into an interface, which should be not only simple but also modern and predictable.

My role

I was responsible for the research and design process, which included not only the creation of a high-quality project (UX) but also the planning and conducting interviews and usability tests. I worked in a remote team that developed effective methods of cooperation. The team was built by people who were very focused on the goal and knew perfectly how to make it happen.

Discovering

I have conducted direct usability tests to be able to understand the problems that occur on key user paths. Despite the scenario, I was open to unexpectedly deepening my knowledge at times when a particular issue seemed to be extremely interesting. Besides, during these usability tests, I conducted contextual interviews to understand better people and how they plan their holidays.

During my work, I conducted interviews and usability tests (directly and remotely using lookback.io.) I collected all the data from the research at Realtimeboard, creating one place with a significant amount of knowledge about the users and the product to which my team had access. I designed the interface, personas and Customer Journey Map in Sketch, and prototypes in InVision.

The turn

Research led us to many discoveries - like what factors (and in what order) can influence decision when, where and for how much money people will spend on next vacation offer.
We made significant changes in the architecture of the product information (e.g., we dropped one list of offers, and we made sturdy destinations pages - with relevant information and offers related to them). 

During the tests, we also managed to understand that people do not expect photos of ships ("when I get there, I will not see it from this perspective"). I showed them a list of offers without pictures and asked them to describe what should appear in empty places. It came out that they are expecting pictures of destinations that will put them in a holiday mood.

Deliverables

The deliverables are an essential element of the designer's work. In this project I delivered:
- Customer Journey Map, which I updated every quarter based on new customer information

- Personas, based on data and helping to understand the point of view of different customer groups

- Diagrams presenting usability test participants from the point of view of the most important factors when deciding on the next vacation

- Interaction Flow, which is ideal for showing changes in the structure in combination with the content that can be found on specific pages

- Wireframes, prepared in Sketch, sometimes in the form of typical mock-ups and sometimes using ready-made designs, which I simply edited to showcase
- Realtimeboard, which is suitable for compiling all kinds of data, including the preparation for usability tests

Looking back

After more than a year of product development, we were able to move from an early stage of maturity to a phase where we had a good, intuitive product, ready for a robust business approach. To increase conversions and further attempts to understand our product in the context of customer expectations and in the environment of much stronger competitors.
For me, it was an excellent experience and an increase in skills. During this time I prepared four versions of Customer Journey Map - observing how the initial assumptions are changing by real knowledge. The researches led to the creation of the first personas, which turned into more complicated combinations.
Also, as a designer, I could not only plan the design process by myself but also gain further valuable experience as a researcher who recognized an unknown group of consumers in a different country. All the conversations and usability tests that I have conducted gave me the confidence that I can find solutions that those people understand and expect.

Testimonials

WILL HORTMAN
(UX and Digital Design Leader, Direct Manager 2017-2018)

Michal is easily one of the best, most well-rounded UX professionals I've worked with. He has the experience needed to partner with product owners and lead product teams toward a well-defined, user-focused vision. He is a natural leader who can mentor designers and help them grow their careers. And he can roll up his sleeves when it's time to conduct usability tests, produce wireframes for discussion with the team, or work with developers to get great design into production.

Michal and I worked together on the Cruise product for HolidayCheck. It was a difficult project, an entirely new product for a company that hadn't launched anything new in years. Michal was able to execute a design process that involved the entire product team, introduced iterative usability testing and design, and most importantly launched the company into a new market on deadline. During the last few weeks before launch, he went a step further. Looking ahead - beyond the launch date - he produced a detailed customer journey and product roadmap that the team uses as their north star for the product's direction.

I'm absolutely amazed by Michal's abilities, his empathy, and his good humor. He's truly a great designer and a wonderful person, and it was a career highlight for me to be able to work with him.

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