Disclaimer: I don’t work at hotels.ng, and the views on this case study are strictly mine. I’m not suggesting that hotels.ng change their current design to mine. What makes me do what I love to do is simple for the fact that I can Identify problems, understand them and suggest ways to solve them. So, here’s one.😀
Over the years, digital products spearheaded by Nigerian start-ups have been pulled to the background by the e-commerce giants, and as the economy wobbles, digital products are jumping out into center stage. With the likes of Paystack, Hotels.ng, Alat, Kudi, OneMedical leading the gang.
Many Nigerian startup founders would have contacted a developer first like our sister Linda said she did when the idea of LIS (of blessed memory) first hit her.
The reality is that Product Design or User experience Design is a new buzz in Nigeria. Most Startup Founders, Stakeholders, and even Designers are yet to really understand what it is all about, and how it can have an impact on businesses and people’s lives.
But until we truly understand and are fearless to make design a core of our businesses, then many of our Startups will continue to suffer stillbirths and never gets to make a leap to get funding.
We have talented Developers anD Designers. We have good marketing and business people. If we set a priorities right, we can create remarkable businesses.
The really successful startups are those that solve real people and business problems, by researching, understanding, defining and taking the time to design every bit of the business that comes together to fix those problems. Be it those little features that convert, or designing a team that shares a common vision, and ultimately every aspect of the business.
First time I used hotels.ng, I was really impressed by the aesthetics and design as compared to many indigenous products I had come across. It presented itself an exciting product to use as a case study on how we can improve on our products, and as well design better products that affect people’s lives.
The problem I’m trying solve here isn’t primarily about showing off some cool features hotels.ng can have, but rather addressing a bigger problem. The problem is that we don’t value design around this side of the globe, probably because we are ignorant of its importance to how we live our lives.
I had used hotels.ng just once, a time I traveled to Uyo for a Friend’s video shoot. Not enough to start chopping the onions.
But I thought, a hotel booking platform could do more than just show me states, hotels in them, and best deals. Vacation, events, business purposes, visit, random travel are all reasons for hotel booking.
With data being key in modern product design, I envisioned a personalized product that learns from user behaviors, patterns, and data, so as to present the user the best options and help people make the right decisions faster.
Anyways, while the ultimate goal is to make the user’s journey an easy and personalized one, increasing sales and conversions for the business was not to be forgotten. Hence, rethinking hotels.ng.
Great products are designed and built around their value proposition. The key thing that makes the product unique and better than its competitors.
I leveraged on: “finding hotels & attractions that fits user interests and matches user budget without hassle”.
I designed a search system that allows users find hotels based on their interests, budget and time of travel.
The premise behind this pattern is to reduce cognitive load for users by presenting to them refined, streamlined and personalized search results.
Based on user search inputs, the search results presents the user the best options. I designed a map which shows makers highlighting hotels within the searched area with price as the focus hence given users an option aside having to scroll past presented results.
I designed a filter which is a simple strip just below the main menu bar. Users can filter through destinations, hotels, select check-in/check-out dates, budget range, number of guests, reason for travel, number of rooms, and other secondary interests.
With the power of “cookies”, users are able to save hotels whether they are logged in or not with and access them by clicking on the bookmark icon at the top left of the header. Bookmarks can be shared.
I came up with a page having 4 tabs — The first is the hotel overview tab which gives an overview of the hotel, photos, key amenities, hotel rules, check-in/check-out time and things to do.
Shows general review of the hotel and reviews of users who have been to the hotel.
With the first persona in mind, I designed the map and attractions tab where users can see markers showing experiences and attractions around a hotel. A full map showing experiences at the right pops up when users clicks on the “Discover” cta, or makers on the map and attractions tab. Users can see shopping malls, banks and ATMs, restaurants and lots more fun experiences close to a hotel.
What if a user needed not to search?
First-time users are presented with best deals and recommended hotels. Previous users who are logged in or whose actions have been cached are presented with recommendations based on their previous patterns, searches, and interests.
After best deals and recommended are popular destinations, a banner slide which could be used to highlight attractions, business travel, honeymoon offers and much more.
One of my aunt whom I interviewed lamented how it was difficult for her and her husband to find an appropriate event center during their wedding. Her feedback informed my decision to include a section called “events and conferences” on the home page.
Have no idea where to spend your next summer holiday?
Want to embark on a travel adventure or looking for that honeymoon bliss? Just click on “attractions” on the menu.
I designed an onboarding page to help users streamline their options based on their interest. This page can be skipped if users want to see every attraction option.
Users simply put in few details, select interests and boom — you are on your way to bliss.