Madeleine gives users the opportunity to travel solely through foodie experiences.
People who like to plan their travels around food experiences don’t have a place to find and book authentic local food options for upcoming trips.
Madeleine recommends food experiences for travelers based on their personal preferences. The app uniquely offers a concierge service to connect with trusted locals for the best recommendations.
I completed seven surveys and received 26 survey responses. Based on qualitative and quantitative data, I discovered that a majority of users value cuisine as an integral part of traveling to new places. I decided to focus on the niche population of foodie travelers as a typical Madeleine user.
“I would never stay in a 5-star hotel … but when it comes to that annoying IG influencer stuff, I would pay more money for a better cup of coffee.”
“I like finding unique and local things to do, so need to know what’s good or not in certain cities.”
“I hate not knowing if I will be falling into a tourist trap. I want to experience the real culture.”
From user responses, I developed an affinity diagram and focused on four main areas: motivations, resources, local meetups and planning. An overwhelming majority of motivations was to immerse into the local and authentic aspects of foreign cities, as opposed to getting stuck in tourist traps. One way that several users get around this pain point is by utilizing hotel concierges as a resource, as well as reading reviews. For users without a concierge option, they would like to meet locals for insight on best local restaurants, but ultimately decide against it for fear of owing them something or feeling awkward. Finally, all interviewees enjoy planning beforehand by booking excursions and making checklist, but also aren’t opposed to last-minute deals or spontaneous adventures.
After extensive research on Madeleine’s potential competition, I found four direct competitors: the Fork, LocalEats, EatWith and With Locals. Each of these apps focuses on recommending restaurants and food experiences to users who intend both on traveling and just remaining local.
By far, the most popular of the four is the Fork because it is an affiliate of TripAdvisor. Its strength is in-app booking, but it cannot be used without sharing your location. This feature might deter some customers from using the app altogether.
LocalEats is an easy-to-use app with no sign-up required, but this means user preferences can’t be saved. It is a poorly designed app and limited to only locations within the United States.
The two best apps I came across were EatWith and With Locals. EatWith provided in-app booking, private events, in-app contact with the host, as well as having competitive prices among the other competitors.
With Locals also provided in-app booking, private events and in-app contact with the host, but it also arranged personalized food experiences for individuals up to small groups.
From this, Madeleine takes advantage of in-app booking to stay up-to-par with the direct competitors, but the app also sets itself apart from the others by offering the concierge service. This feature truly helps users get local experiences, without having to spend extra on private events for authenticity.
After completing my feature prioritization, it was clear that there were some high priority features to include in Madeleine. The ones I chose to focus on include a virtual concierge service with a local, recommendations based on specific user preferences, and knowledge of local hotspots to eat and shop. I also decided to include in-app booking and payment, in order to streamline the planning process for the user.
A typical Madeleine user is someone like Lily Thomas: an avid foodie who loves to travel in order to experience different cultures through cuisine. When she is planning trips, she has a hard time finding the food-centered excursions among the other travel options. Lily also gets nervous when booking because she never knows if her choice is touristy or authentic. She relies on reviews to guide her in the right direction.
On the right is a simplified version of the user flow. The goal is for Madeleine to be easy-to-use, so from any main screen, a user can direct easily between the four main categories: home, bookings, concierge and profile.
The menu is hidden when completing tasks, specifically through onboarding, booking and payment, cancelling a booking and updating preferences. Users can navigate back to the screens that show the menu by pressing the allocated back button on the screen.
The onboarding is quick, so no potential users are deterred by a lengthy process. To sign-up, users enter their name, email, a passcode and confirm the passcode, otherwise they can sign-up with Google, Facebook or Apple ID. Users are then directed to choose their preferences in three categories: food, experience and travel.
If they want to come back to choosing or updating preferences later, they can navigate to the profile menu. In this menu, the user can also update/change their payment information, account information, notification settings and logout of the app.
Wireframes & Lo-Fidelity Mockups
Guerilla testing was conducted with the sample task of onboarding and three subsequent tasks: booking a reservation, cancelling a booking and editing user preferences. Four users were tested and the results came back as follows:
POSITIVES: straightforward booking, straightforward payment, easy cancellation, easy to adjust preferences, and easy logout
DIFFICULTIES: could not find sign up button, difficult knowing where to click without pictures or context (mid-fi), and could not figure out drag quote screen
THINGS TO RECONSIDER: place “sign up” button under login and “forgot passcode”, make prototype more detailed, build out filter options, and fix arrow on drag quote screen
Feedback & Iterations
“I can’t find the ‘Sign-Up’ button, just the ‘Login’ and ‘Forgot Passcode’ buttons.”
After six user tests, the main area of feedback was the onboarding process. None of the users could find the “Sign-Up” button when it was in the corner of the login page.
In the final prototype, I placed the “Sign-Up” button directly underneath the “Login” button. I also decided to change the name from “Sign-Up” to “Get Started” in order to add some colloquial personality to the app.
“I don’t get it. Which direction do I swipe?”
Users were getting confused about the direction to swipe the splash screen to enter the app, even with an arrow direction included. In order to keep Madeleine as easy-to-use as possible, I scrapped the screen completely.
The new splash screen ended up becoming the sign-up/login screen, so I made it more decorative by adding madeleines into the background.
The other features of the app that I user tested were the booking, payment and preferences processes. No users showed or expressed difficulty navigating to the booking page, then subsequently successfully booking and paying for a trip. Users also had no difficulty cancelling a booking. Finally, users did not have trouble indicating or changing their preferences in the app.
In future iterations, I would like to spend more time researching how apps incorporate payment options. My final prototype included Apply Pay and credit card options, but after limited research, I understand that there may be more diverse payment forms, like PayPal and Google Pay. I think Madeleine would benefit from more research and integration in this area.
Safety & Privacy
As a result of providing the unique virtual concierge feature, privacy and safety will need to be a top priority to both the traveler and the trusted local. Research will need to be conducted on privacy services and how to stay anonymous when contacting the concierge line, through phone number, location and profile information. Another concern is the concierge local will know where the traveler is likely to dine, or be able to narrow it down to a few locations, which can be an endangerment to the user. Training the locals will need to be extensive, and also background checks required, as well as in-depth research on how to prevent tracking and ensure safety.
Madeleine would benefit from an emphasis on accessibility. Food and travel do not discriminate based on ability, so having options, such as voice commands and screen readers could help Madeleine to accommodate to a wider audience.