2 min read

Project at a Glance


People lack knowledge and interest regarding architectural history of UCSD landmarks.

I seek one unified solution to address 2 stakeholder goals
to attract and educate more people:
UC San Diego, who wants to attract more campus foot traffic.
San Diego Architecture Foundation, who built many UCSD’s architectural landmarks and dedicated to promote education round them.


A self-guided tour app that helps users to better explore and get to campus landmarks, featuring informative content and tour customization.


3 Months after the MVP fully shipped on Google Play Store, Orient app was acquired by PrecisePK, a start-up company with initial fundraising of $150,000 and proved the concept by obtaining the 1st paying customer.

See Full project case

Diverging & Converging Process

The 6 month design process follows the Double Diamond Model.

My Role as Design Lead

• Created low/hi-fidelity mockups.
• Drove cross-functional design critiques.
• Strategized usability and accessibility testings.


• 1 other Designer
• 1 Product Manager
• 7 Developers

Explore Problem Space


Survey: Mismatch between user desires and current offerings

150+ Survey Data from 3 local /international highschools showed strong desire to spend around half day to tour campus.

However, the current official school tour (Triton Tour) led by student tour guides can hardly accommendate such need.


Field Study for a week:
Observe real users in touring context, 3 insights found

I prentended to be a highschool senior and signed up for 7 Triton Tours to walk alongside users and shadow their behaviors and interactions with human tour guide.


Expert Interview:
the other side of the story from tour guides

As people who closely interact with end users day-to-day, the student tour guides confirmed many pain points we observed.

The training effort and cost to onboard new tour guides as old ones graduate each year are costly and cause inconsistency.

Understanding Users

Instead of using Personas to put users into oversimplified and discrete categories,
I use two types of mindsets
that users are constantly shifting.

Dynamic User Journey

I envision the app not only support each mindset's job-to-be-done,
but also enable smooth shifting between mindsets
to minimize drop-offs and keep the momentum to continue explore.

From research, I conclude:

Group tours constrain users who shift into forager mindset,
and want more autonomy and flexibility.

How Might We

improve the campus touring experience for both wander and forager mindset
to support exploration and more learning?

Boil down findings into
3 Design Criteria


Multimedia content which includes picture, video, and audio recorded by tour guides.


With customizable tour, visitors with varied time constraints, interests, and goals can get what they need.


Serving audience of all ages, physical and cognitive abilities, our design should not create disabling situations.


Towards 3 Design Criteria

Iteration towards Informativeness:

How to absorb content on Place Detail Page effectively?

Information Architecture

Design flexible IA to support such dynamic mindset shifting,
by creating multiple-front doors for the Place Detail Page.

Guerrilla Test on Layout

Iteration towards Customizability:

How to encourage usage of tour customization?

Customization requires high interaction cost as it needs user configuration.

1. Simplify workflow and minimize input.
2. Humanize process with avatar

Iteration towards Accessibility:
How to ensure the app is inclusive in disabling situations?

As a tour app, most use cases are outdoors under direct sunlight,
and using mobile on the move situationally impaired fine-motor ability.

High-Fi Screens &
User Flow


providing greetings, key features, and boost confident engagement within first encounters


During pre-set tour:
immersive audio first experience on accessible dark mode UI

Hooray! You've just finished a tour. If one tour isn't enough, we have provided many other ways for you to continue your exploration.


Have specific place in mind?
Learn more via the detail page featuring multi-media content,
or use search function with amenities shortcut


Tour Customize:
Tailor towards personalized needs and constraints

Design System

Business Model

Our modularized design made it possible to
scale to other universities & cities as an open source software.

Clients will provide us with subscription fees and content,
while we provide them software as a service (SaaS).


Don’t follow HCD process to the tooth and do checklists

For students fresh out of design programs, it’s easy and tempting to fall into the trap of blindly follow HCD process to the tooth. “Storyboard check; persona check; low-fi wireframe check…” Sometime, simply forget to ask why is this tool necessary in this specific project, and is that enough to attack the problem you want to solve?

At first, I fall into the same trap, did persona for xplore but still felt distant to the understanding the core of user motivations with superficial classification by user identity. However I soon realized such generalization might blind us from understanding the underrepresented users and the dynamic nature of the user mind set. After discuss with teammates, we used other ways to map out user journey and use cases, which helped deepen my understanding of users.

Edge cases are not that “edge”

Granted, some may say it’s already enough work to satisfy the majority target user groups, and leaving out edge cases is just because they can’t please all. However, while 1 in 7 people live with some form of disability, EVERYONE experiences situational or temporary disability during daily interaction with the world. Thus is no so-called edge cases. The less abled group should not be exclude from the game, in fact, making the product accessible to them also improves usability for the abled.

Thank you Team :D

Lastly, shout out to my cross-functional team! It's been a nice quarter working aside with engineering team and pm to ideate, design, and build.

Yiwen Hou

User Experience Enthusiast.


Get in touch

Tel: +1 (858)736-7402

Drop me an email: yvonnehou98@gmail.com

I am located at: San Diego, CA