Neighborhoods + Boroughs Experience Redesign
NYC & Company, Spring 2019
As the official destination marketing organization for New York City, NYCgo.com is a digital landing place for travelers and locals alike to find information about the 5 boroughs. We were asked to optimize the existing Neighborhoods and Boroughs experience on NYCgo.com as part of an effort to drive tourism to outer boroughs (not Manhattan) and to lesser known neighborhoods.
For this project I completed 5 UX research activities:
Competitive + comparative analysis
Talk flow analysis
Usability Testing current experience
User interviews + affinity mapping
I also collaborated with the director of data analytics to get quantitative insights about our existing neighborhoods experience
I did a thorough exploration of the DMO digital marketplace to generate understanding of how our competitors design their neighborhood experiences. This allowed us to gain a general overview of the marketplace, including best practices.
Task Flow Analysis
I created a visual representation of our existing neighborhoods exploration experience. This allowed us to pinpoint where users may be getting lost while visiting the borough/neighborhood pages on NYCgo.com.
Usability Test: Live Website
An open-ended usability test where we asked users to explore NYCgo.com, specifically the neighborhoods experience, and watched how they navigated the website. This enabled us to see the positive aspects of the experience, as well as the points that cause frustration or cause users to get “lost.”
User Interviews + Affinity Mapping
Through usertesting.com, I interviewed 6 NYC locals about their experiences exploring neighborhoods in outer boroughs of NYC and what brought them there. Key notes from the interviews were transcribed on post-its, and my team affinity mapped the results.
I conducted short, survey interviews with real tourists in Times Square and to asked them about their current NYC trip, if they are planning to explore neighborhoods in outer boroughs, and if so which ones and why.
Usability learnings: (from the task flow analysis and usability testing)
We learned how buried the existing neighborhoods experience is on our website
- Zero participants on desktop or mobile were able to successfully navigate to a neighborhood page.
We learned there is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between neighborhoods and boroughs
100% of participants stated they successfully navigated to a neighborhood page when in fact they navigated to a borough landing page
Competitive + Comparative Analysis
We noticed the tendency for websites to display key information about a place at the top of the page in easy to digest, breakdowns of key facts
Most websites utilized neighborhoods as the main point of entry into individual neighborhoods
Most websites displayed key information about a neighborhood prominently along with other useful information
User Interview Findings
We interviewed 6 locals (at least 1 from each borough) about their existing behaviors and motivations to explore the five boroughs because much of the initial messaging is intended to speak to locals and encourage them to explore different parts of the city.
Interests: The largest theme, “personal interests’ were the main drivers for people to explore new neighborhoods or go out of their way to do something that feels inconvenient. We learned that people first search for things they are interested in, then go to the neighborhood to do those things - rather than first looking for neighborhoods then deciding if there is something of interest there.
How we implemented our research findings into the design:
Leading directly to the NB experience rather than to a “Boroughs and Neighborhoods” experience to promote exploration of boroughs and reduce confusion about the difference between boroughs and neighborhoods.
The “Explore by Interests” section: People search for things to do by their personal interests, not by points of interest. To facilitate their search we included the interest collections to make recommendations for things to do in various neighborhoods that support user’s individual interests.
The inclusion of the “At a glance…” section to present users the information they want about a neighborhood in a fast to consume way
Before and After
Through usability testing we learned how buried the existing neighborhoods experience was on the website. To increase ease of access to exploring we made neighborhoods the main focal point of the landing page rather than boroughs.
Explore By Interests
From user interviews we learned that people like to explore by interest. That finding prompted the design of a new filtering and search hub: "Choose an Interest and Go" to help users find neighborhoods to explore by interest category.
Neighborhood Landing Page "At a Glance"
Comparative analysis indicated that most other tourism websites displayed key information about a neighborhood prominently at the top of the page. We designed this "at A Glance" section to include key information, along with other NYC-specific things such as closest subway station that came out of user interview findings.