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The Context

As a part of SVA’s Summer Intensive in Interaction Design course, Practice of Interaction Design, my team was given the (fictional) challenge of creating a digital product for Lonely Planet, a travel guide publisher. The product was to be a companion piece to their guidebooks and website.

The Problem

Lonely Planet has established itself as one of the most trusted travel publishers but have struggled to transition their brand from print to digital. They were looking for a digital solution that would attract their target audience: Backpackers, low-budget travelers age 18-24; and Flatpackers, medium-budget travelers age 24-35.

The Solution

North Star is a mobile, private-messaging app enabling like-minded travelers to connect with each other. North Star lets travelers create a profile with the places they’ve traveled and their travel-related interests, then search for and message one-on-one with their fellow travelers--to ask for advice, offer support, or find travel buddies in their current location.

Read our full North Star presentation here:

Our Process

We decided right away that we wanted our digital product to be a mobile app. Since our target audience was already using their mobile devices to communicate and grow relationships, we felt a mobile app would be the most straightforward and effective route to capturing them.

First we conducted interviews with stakeholders and users in our target audiences. We performed competitive and ecosystem analyses to better understand what Lonely Planet’s competitors looked like and where our solution would fit among their other products.


We sketched our app map and conducted a card sorting exercise. Card sorting in particular brought us the most forward momentum with our concept, forcing us to see the big picture of our app and helping us move closer to its essential functions.

After card sorting, we created a features matrix to identify our minimum viable product. It was at this stage that we received some valuable feedback from our instructor: we were trying to do too much, and we should scale back on some of our extraneous features. We took this into account as we began defining our site navigation and sketching wire frames. 

My Role

This project was a highly collaborative effort, and we all contributed equally at every stage of the process. I was most often encouraging my team to fine-tune our ideas, to hone in on our core concept for the product, and to pull back on features that did not directly support that concept.

More specifically, I conducted the Lonely Planet ecosystem analysis, providing valuable information for our team about where our app would fit with their other products. My approach was to develop a written outline of the ecosystem, analyzing each product and looking for the pros and cons of each. I scoured user reviews of Lonely Planet’s books on Amazon, as well as reviews of their apps in the Apple app store. Finally, I drew conclusions from our findings that helped inform our decisions about our app and what function it would serve.

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