App Redesign  |  UX/UI Mobile Design  |  May 2016

HotelsByDay utilizes day booking stays to assist hotels optimize room vacancy between guest checkout and check­in, which otherwise would remain empty. By offering a wide selection of hotels, discounted day rates, and reservation flexibility, HotelsByDay is targeting travelers looking for a quiet place to work, refresh, as well as locals looking for a nearby getaway. 


The Challenge

HotelsByDay has a dramatic 30% booking difference between their mobile app and their desktop responsive site, with customers booking more from desktop site rather than the app. With a steady rate of an average of over 200 iOS downloads in the past 3 months, HotelsByDay wants to optimize their native app, by focusing on usability ad easy checkout flow. The app redesign would increase user conversion by improving the user onboarding process and browsing navigation, while continuing to train users by avoiding the mindset of using HotelsByDay as a romantic getaway only. The redesign would focus on ease of use as well as highlighting the feeling of "immediacy of service".



The Process: Competitive & Comparative Research

We began our analysis of HBD's competitors by examining the industry of utilizing hotel's day-inventory. We honed in on 6 competitors that had the same discounted structure like HBD.

From what we were able to discover, there were only a few competitors that had a simplified checkout process. Also, not many of them had a referral program that utilized brand recognition by word of mouth.

Competitor Insights:

  • HBD was the most basic platform of all the competitors
  • A major way to set HBD apart would be to create a customer loyalty program that customers can refer friends to receive incentive
  • Only 1 of the 7 booking platforms had Apple Pay enabled to expedite the checkout flow
  • User reviews of the property was not a feature that many competitors had listed

Assuming these 6 other competitors had full departments of developers or outsourced their app development, we needed to examine the limitations of the current HBD app platform and where we could go from there.



The Process: Background Research

Our technical background research for this specific project required a little more in-depth investigation. Going into this project we already had the base knowledge of the iOS Human Interface Guidelines. What was interesting to learn, was that HBD was using a prebuilt template for an application called Xamarin.

As HBD was a hybrid app at launch, they needed a platform that could support iOS and Android. Xamarin was a plug and play solution, but has limitations to app functionality. During our research we also spoke with a developer and an engineer to find their takes on Xamarin versus building an app from scratch

“The customizable factor will depend on the developer’s skills.” — Joey (developer)

We knew that we had full reign on our design, so we decided to forge ahead with the idea that this app would be build from scratch. However, building an app from scratch would mean that we would have to ensure we knew the full capabilities of the features and functionality of the new application. We needed more research to know user’s pain points before we could start brainstorming and prioritizing features.



The Process: User Research

With our screeners and surveys, we wanted to ensure that we were receiving insights from both active users and potential users. We considering previous HBD customers and active users and customers who book travel plans on a mobile device as potential users.

Our team at HBD was kind enough to send out a screener to their customer base. Our team also utilized our social networks to gather as much information as we could.

We were limited by the amount of users that we could interview from the current user pool as we were rewarding them a monetary amount for their time. We wanted to understand their pain points with the current app as well as their typical booking habits. Here is what we were able to uncover.

was particularly interesting was that the numbers above reflected almost identically to the booking information provided to us from HBD.

What we were able to pull from our conversations with these users were these 6 points:

Synthesizing Data

  • Users want a private quiet space for multiple reasons — business presentations, late flights, layover romance, quiet time out of the house, freshening up before an evening out/event, outpost in between meetings
  • Users want clarity and accuracy in listing info — clear booking terms regarding charges, cancellation policies, multiple photos, and direction to hotel
  • Users want information on quality — trusted user reviews, hotel star ratings, recognizable hotel brands
  • Users want to tailor their search — for location, price, timeframe, amenities, star rating, reviews, and room type
  • Users want convenience — to access previous bookings and easy purchase and favoriting their frequent stay locations
  • Users want to earn loyalty points — to earn at their preferred brand as well as the possibility to receive a kickback for referring friends to HBD

After pulling these insights, we needed to create target market personas to filter our decision making through their eyes.



The Process: Style Guide

Before we could start designing, we needed to ensure that we understood HBD’s brand guidelines. At the time of the assignment, HBD only had a color pallet, so we had to create their style guide for their application.

We first navigated to their official website to see what their brand look and feel was. However, esthetically, there wasn’t consistency between fonts and overall direction. So we then navigated to their blog site.

The HBD Blog site was much more uniformed in vision and branding. The fonts had a more esthetically pleasing look with lifestyle photos paired with font. As a group we knew this was the direction we wanted to head.

We wanted to understand the voice of HBD. What makes HBD a trusted brand and what voice does HBD convey to its customers? After examining their blog posts, about pages, and even articles written by them, we still couldn’t identify a clear voice. So we headed over to twitter to see if there was a clearer vision for brand tone. We discovered that there was an optimistic, informative, friendly tone of voice. After we created a style guide that was suitable with our needs, we then moved onto brainstorming the app design.



The Process: Persona Creation

Once our insights from interviews were synthesized, we brainstormed on our target market. Even though we were provided with business insights from HBD, we still wanted to ensure that our hypothesis and methodologies were confirmed and guided by the insights. We took the information from our interviews created 4 separate personas, each one particular to the booking demographic that would use HBD to book a day stay. The Frequent Business Traveler, The Leisure Traveler, The Infrequent Business Traveler and The Potential Client.

4th Persona scratched from user persona creation

We later learned that the 4th persona, The Potential Client, wasn’t needed as their incentive / wants and needs were visible in the other three personas. So after a thought out discussion, we decided to move forward with 3 rather than 4 and have the Potential Client’s needs address in the remaining 4.

From the data that we collected, we believed that these three personas represented the market that HBD should focus their efforts. As we tried to focus our own efforts, we selected the frequent business traveler as our primary persona to filter our design decisions through. We were able to see characteristics of the other two personas in the primary, however, we wanted to address the immediacy and convenience that the business traveler craves and needs.



The Process: Design Studio Methodology

The design studio methodology is geared to expel any and all creative ideas out on the table.

Our first task was to examine the welcome screen and on-boarding. As we knew that HBD wanted to educate and promote, during the process we had discussions back and forth about what to have in our design. Do we have a search result list automatically pop up? If so, how would the brand set itself apart from other competitors? We ended up not auto populating a result list as part of the business need was to educate the user from the preconceived notion that a day-use hotel could only be used for romantic purposes.

Our second design discussion was the sort and filter option. We knew that the current sort and filter options were bare minimum but how would be able to improve on that? We decided to sort by providing the user options to choose amenities and price range.

Within our design studio we wanted to look back at our competitors and see what they were doing, as well as attempt to design it better. So we took a look back at the 6 competitors in the day use space, as well as hotel booking apps that booked overnight stays as well.






Next Steps

Our next steps and recommendations revolves around the short-term, long-term, granular, and conceptual ideas.

  • Short-Term — Continue user testing and research other pre-built app templates that can used as a plug and play resolution in the event that financial constraints prevent HBD from hiring iOS developers
  • Long-Term — Account creation and user created content would be something to scope out. User created content would cover the aspects of hotel ratings after a guest has stayed at a property to utilize user reviews instead of using a trip advisor API.
  • Granular — Have marketing team examine micro copy throughout the redesigned application to ensure that branding is consistant throughout platform
  • Conceptual — Investigate recurring booking to understand viability of the feature. Fully flesh out a referral program and terms of service to encompass user’s stays as well as successful referrals. Dynamic pricing to see if hotels for hour based stays could be a viable option as well, possibly at a higher premium. Finally, investigate the technology for having an Apple Wallet feature for booking confirmation so that users do not have to search their phones for order confirmation.
Read the full retrospective on Medium