ABOUT THE PROJECT     Socius was created from an interview-based investigation of the solo traveler experience. Whether you are jet-setting for business or pleasure, exploring a new place can become lackluster when you’re on your own. For backpackers and business travelers alike, Socius matches out-of-towners with locals based off interests, hobbies, and mutual activities. Travelers can create individual profiles and input their travel details to assist them with meeting new friends around the world.

THE PROBLEM     Traveling can become a lonely affair when on your own. Interviewees expressed being overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of the their new environments and desired counsel or at least companionship in their explorations. We believe that open-minded solo travelers have a problem finding a social circle in a new setting. We can help them by connecting them with like-minded locals. We’ll know if we’re right if solo travelers spend at least an hour a day of their trip with somebody they met through the app.


The main points we took away were: travelers desired like-minded companionship and original, stress-free experiences. We analyzed the data we received from our interviewees to create two personas: the Backpacker and the Business Blogger. We formed common themes, created insight statements, and brainstormed different solutions. 

We brainstormed a product that was a destination-based social connection app. We compared and studied location-centric travel resources that had strong social elements integrated within such as Airbnb and volunteer-based programs such as WWOOF and HelpX. We also compared apps like Tinder and Couchsurfing to better explore what elements would attract and benefit solo travelers.

From the interviewed research and comparative analysis, we developed an MVP and user flow to map out the necessary features the app had to have. We discussed and debated what exactly was fundamental and set about constructing a design.

PROTOTYPING & LO-FI WIREFRAMING     Always starting from basics, we used pencil, paper, and the POP app to get an initial drawing of the prototype.  From there, we critiqued and refined the steps to create Lo-Fi wireframes with annotations.

The MVP was extremely valuable with allowing us to focus on where the users needed to end up: connected with like-minded locals. We concentrated on setting up the platform where users can input specifics about themselves and their trip to better match them with companions. Users were asked to interact with the Lo-Fi wireframes and the feedback was then analyzed and translated into the Hi-Fi prototype. 


USABILITY TESTING     After the Hi-Fi prototype was created, we interviewed five individuals and asked them to complete specific tasks. We encouraged users to talk about their thought process when interacting with the app. Users were surveyed and we received a SUS score of 85.6; adequate, but still in need of improvement.

“The interface is really clean and enjoyable to look at. It’s really organized, but I would like more clarification on each page. How much info to put, more prompting. I’m not sure really what to say about myself.”

“The concept is great. I would love to go exploring with somebody around the city since I’m new here too, but I’d need more information about the other person. I can definitely see myself using this.”

“I would like to see more on what I have in common with the other person before I talk to them.”


NEXT STEPS     Our investigation concentrated heavily on the travelers' POV when they venture into a new city. One of the key things that need to be addressed is the LOCALS user experience within the app. Additionally, based off the feedback from our usability testing, we noted needed improvements and integration of a Feedback or Rating system. Users also expressed conflicting opinions on the flow between Matched Profiles before and after chatting with locals.