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A Case Study

SeeCurrents is a travel blog that encourages users to discover islands around the world. 

Our goal was to increase user retention on SeeCurrents.


SeeCurrents Overview anchor
UX Team

This project started when we were approached by Patricia Davis, founder and sole stakeholder of SeeCurrents. While she had success in getting businesses to use her website, she had difficulty in keeping the average user on the site.


SeeCurrents users are not just people actively looking to travel, but also people looking to explore the local culture of an island.

2.5 week sprint
Jordan Kolb
James Lim
Abraham Galva
Miles Rodriguez

We only had 2.5 weeks to go through the entire double diamond process from research to hi-fi prototype and presentation. Our initial research process consisted of making a competitive brand matrix, conducting user interviews, and doing usability tests on the existing site.

Brand Matrix
Contextual Inquiry 
Usability Tests
Affinity Map
Journey Map
C&C Analysis
Rapid Prototypes
Competitive Brand Matrix

SeeCurrents fills a niche in the travel website market. Most travel blogs are user aggregate and exist to give the user information on a particular location, like the travel blog, LonelyPlanet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sites like TripAdvisor and CultureTrip focus entirely on site-suggested locations and logistics. 

SeeCurrents attempts to be both but unfortunately lacks the infrastructure to do so. When it comes to logistics like RSVPing and ticket-buying, SeeCurrents boots users to an external site. This would lead to massive confusion and dissatisfaction during the initial usability test. 

Existing Site Usability Testing
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We asked 8 users to rate on a scale of 1-5 how easily they navigated through the site and how satisfied they were doing so. 


The biggest problem discovered through usability testing the existing site was the repeated use of stock images for the list of activities. This made people not only distrust the site, but also the legitimacy of the things to do. Navigation-wise, the website was fine. People were unsure of the purpose for the site as well. 


Options for hotel and flight booking were rudimentary or nonexistent. Both would take you to an external booking site that discouraged users from returning. Users were confused. Was it a travel logistics app like Travelocity or was it a blog?

Important Insights from User Interviews
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When doing research, users tend to Google the name of the area or activities they want to do and click the first result.


People are just as inclined to travel somewhere based on liking the country as they are based on the activities they can do there.

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Users expressed interest in grouping their activities to a particular area.


We affinity mapped the results of those interviews and created our persona, Ellie. Ellie naturally Googles where she’s interested in and activities to do. This results in her having many tabs of different websites open simultaneously and it becomes difficult to make an itinerary as a result. 

Journey Map
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Our Persona starts the journey map being recommended SeeCurrents by a friend. Ellie's journey takes information from both user interviews and usability testing results. Ellie is confused what the purpose of the site is. The many exit points do not encourage her to return back to SeeCurrents. The lack of any legitimate visuals makes her question the legitimacy of businesses being hosted on the site. She might as well go back to using Google and find her information on there.

User Flow

The exiting website had a huge problem regarding exits. Too many destinations on the site would take users off SeeCurrents and onto sister sites. This cuts into our stakeholder's ad revenue and exacerbates the problem our persona, Ellie, is facing by having too many tabs open. Creating a user flow made it clear that the best way to keep users engaged with the site would be to increase the prominence of articles, since reading those does not end with their potential exit from SeeCurrents. The user flow also highlighted the need for two equally-weighted methods in which a user can find something to do:


Search by activity first, then location.


Search by location first, then activity.

Mid-Fi Wireframes

Our insights, as well as the lack of site infrastructure for booking flights and hotels internally, led us to focus more on turning SeeCurrents into a travel blog. We conducted a competitive and comparative analysis comparing various travel and non-travel blogs. The layouts of those non-travel blogs helped us in our design studio and mid-fi wireframes.


We wanted to emphasize the importance of "exploring" by giving the most prominence to a random island on the front page. Two other carousels on the right would further encourage users to search islands and activities. 

Mid-Fi Usability Test Results

We asked 8 users to rate on a scale of 1-5 how easily they navigated through the site and how satisfied they were doing so. 


Our method of organizing activities into an “Explore” section and articles into an “Experience” section did not work. Users had no idea what those words entailed when it came to navigating the site so they simply ignored it. 


Users became far too reliant on using the Search bar to navigate the site.


Users were unaware they could scroll down on the home page to view articles. They also did not expect to find articles to read in the "Experience" section. We needed to further increase the prominence of articles on SeeCurrents.

Hi-Fi Mockups & Usability Testing


We asked 10 users to rate on a scale of 1-5 how easily they navigated through the site and how satisfied they were doing so. 


Users skewed heavily towards searching by activity first in the primary navigation. This is a problem since we had a sizable amount of interviewees also wanting to search by location-first.


The Search bar was largely ignored. Multiple users stated they viewed it more as a backup instead of as a method to look up a destination. 

Final Revisions

Ideally, we would have added a “Destinations” tab to the primary navigation that would show a list of islands. Instead, we saved time by changing the word “Search” to “Enter Destination” making it clearer to the user that they can search by location.


Our goal of retaining users should have focused more around saving activities to their account. Saving activities and creating a calendar with a travel itinerary would have more directly solved our persona’s pain points of having multiple windows open.


In Summary

SeeCurrents was a site with an identity problem. Users saw that SeeCurrents had the option of booking flights and hotels, but the site itself wasn't capable of doing so internally. It left users wondering why they would use SeeCurrents at all if it just takes them to external sites. Changing the original design to look more like a travel blog meant re-designing the navigation ensuring location-based searching and activity-based searching had equal weight. 


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