iStrategyBlabs

DoubleTree App Redesign: Behind The Scenes

DoubleTree iPad App Design

DoubleTree Hotels first approached us in 2013 to redesign Home & Away, their app that acts as a concierge for business travelers staying at DoubleTree properties. When we initially looked into redesigning the app, we wanted to stay close to the core strategy.

The concept is simple: tell the app which bank, gas station, coffee shop, pharmacy, rental car, etc. that you, as an individual, prefer, and the app will effortlessly map your brand preferences around your hotel.

That core mission has stayed the same, but DoubleTree enlisted us to redesign the app once again this year based on updates to iOS. After research, design, and user testing, we were able to completely revamp the app with added functionality and a greatly improved user experience. The following is a look at the key features we updated.  You can also head over to the app store to check it out.DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Map

The original app featured a map with an omnipresent sidebar allowing the user to select their favorite brands for each of the available categories (banks, pharmacies, etc). Once selected, the app will remember your favorite brands no matter which hotel you’re searching from. For the redesign, we wanted to make the map even larger — after testing it was revealed that the main area of interaction was the map, and we were losing a lot of space to the wood-grain texture. We designed a slide-away tray that is accessible from the icon menu, hiding the brand favorites tray when not in use, creating a more immersive experience. We’ve also pulled in search results from Yelp, so if  users are looking for something that’s not featured in one of the sidebar categories, they’re able to search the map for anything they can dream up. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Styling

The wood grain was warm and inviting, but took up a large amount of real estate on the main map screen. During the redesign we were able to take advantage of the advances made in increased interface familiarity, removing the wood texture and skeuomorphic buttons in favor of a minimally-styled side and top bar. We also added a plethora of animations to the app to enhance the character of an otherwise lightly designed interface. To display the favorites bar, the user swipes their finger to the right on an icon. You can check out all of these new features by downloading the app today.

DoubleTree iOS7 Updates from iStrategyLabs on Vimeo.

The Size

One of our client’s goals was to reduce the size of the app, which in its original version featured images of each of their  370+ hotels in 32 countries across 6 continents, leading to a gigantic app. Size is a huge factor in apps, because large apps lead to longer download times. We removed the images from the app, reducing the size from about 300MB to just 30mb. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

This decision mainly impacted the hotel selector screen, because the first version of the app each hotel was shown with its own photos. The photos looked beautiful, but were not a necessity for the app experience. In the new version, the hotel selector screen has been reworked to allow the content to come to the forefront. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Hotel Selector

The hotel selector screen has been changed dramatically as well. On scroll, the title bar fades away and the hotel tiles take over the screen, featuring a slight color fade as the rows of hotels slide by. Our hypothesis was that users are not interested in photos of the hotel. Presumably, users are already staying at a DoubleTree hotel; when they’re scrolling, they’re looking for a specific hotel location. Listing the hotels alphabetically and offering a pleasing color fade allows the user to scroll at will and without distraction. The app also offers a search based on text or current location. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

Testing & Iteration

In early rounds of testing, we realized that users were confused about the goal of the app, especially in relation to the DoubleTree brand. We recognized this as a huge problem, and came up with an elegant two-fold solution to teach our users about the benefits of the app. When the app is launched, the user is met with a welcome screen, a short description of the app, and a large button that entices them to “explore” the map. When they enter the map view for the first time, they’ll see a brief three part tutorial, complete with an animation. The tutorial explains how to use the app and then drops off the screen. In our second round of testing, we saw that although the tutorial worked well for some, about half the users swiped through the tutorial without reading it and were still confused. So, we added one last cue to help our eager users — a one-time interface hint that pops up to guide the user through their first interactions in the app. They can tap the bubble to be walked through the action, or perform the action on their own to get rid of the cue. Our last round of testing was highly successful. All of our cues did the trick, and users were having a great time navigating around the app. The animations were a big hit, delivering a surprise dose of fun for people who might otherwise not be so happy (if they’re on a business trip).

Check out the app in the App Store today!

DoubleTree Home and Away App

The Facebook “Mentions Box” Goes Live At The Emmy Awards

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Facebook, already the biggest brand in social media, was looking for a better way to bridge the gap between celebrities and fans, specifically at live events. Behold: The Facebook “Mentions Box” which just debuted at the 2014 Emmy’s — allowing celebrities to “shake” the device to surface a fan question (pulling directly from the event’s Facebook Page) and immediately record a video response back.

At the Emmys, the Mentions Box was used by everyone from Jimmy Fallon, to Matthew McConaughey, to Ty Burrell and Jason Biggs — to stars from Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, and HBO’s Silicon Valley (see below!).

Matthew McConaughey - Mentions Box

After many discussions, brainstorms, and rapid prototyping efforts focused on how to best represent the Facebook platform in physical space, we landed on a simple concept drawing inspiration from mediums people already know and enjoy (landing on something between a Magic 8-Ball in function and an Etch-A-Sketch in form).

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Ultimately, we settled on a tablet encased in a polycarbonate form factor, with a luxury car finish.

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We started the process by concepting potential types of physical devices that talent would be able to easily (and quickly) interact with — using cardboard and simple materials to play around with various form factors.

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The admin console (primarily a question moderation tool) sources questions from specific Facebook posts and then pushes approved questions straight to The Facebook Mentions Box.

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Leading up to the Emmy’s, The Mentions Box was featured on Access Hollywood by hosts Billy Bush and Shaun Robinson:

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More pics of the Mentions Box in action, straight from the Access Hollywood Facebook Page!

 

 

 

 


Update
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On September 5th, Facebook teamed up with Stand Up To Cancer to utilize the Mentions Box to connect celebrities with donors supporting the live charity event.

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The Mobileys: Now Accepting Applications!

Announcing The Mobileys


Attention, attention, The Mobileys are here
Calling all mobile app entrepreneurs far and near
Apps that benefit our nation will compete
And be judged by some of the industry’s elite
For the chance to win $10,000 dollars in seed money
No… I swear… we’re not being funny
So tell all the developers and app creators you know
themobileys.com is where they should go.

 

But actually tell everyone you know. Thanks.

 

For the 2nd year in a row, Mobile Future is working with the team at iStrategyLabs to run The Mobileys, a mobile app competition that gives out $20,000 in seed money and the opportunity to work with an experienced and influential judging panel to a mobile app, service or other product that makes our world a better place. If you or someone you know has an app, service or product that fits the build, we’d HIGHLY recommend applying or telling them to apply to The Mobileys.

 

And while you’re here, check out this Venture Beat post about it!

 

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Kroger Taps iStrategyLabs as Social Media Agency of Record

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kroger.logoOver the past few years, iStrategyLabs has steadily grown and honed its service offering to include a diligent focus on the intersection of online and off. When Kroger - America’s largest grocer and second largest general retailer with 2,640+ stores – began a process last year to find a new Social Media Agency of Record, they found what they were looking for in us.

After a competitive review, we’re proud to announce that iStrategyLabs is Kroger’s new Social Media AOR and is now responsible for all social media activities for Kroger and 10 other banner brands across the US - King Soopers, City Market, Dillons, Gerbes, Fry’s, Ralphs, Smith’s, Food4Less, Foods Co., and QFC.

We couldn’t be more excited to be working with iStrategyLabs. Their creativity, inventiveness and best-in-class social media marketing capabilities make them the perfect partner for Kroger.

- Anne Maness, Sr. Marketing Manager, Kroger

This assignment presents a big opportunity for iStrategyLabs and Kroger. If we do our best work together – we’ll be able to enhance the customer experience for millions of people, in thousands of stores everyday.

- Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategyLabs

New work for Kroger is rolling out as we speak. Check out the following:

Taste of Mexico Campaign Content:

Taste of Mexico Guac Surf Tweet

Taste of Mexico Timeline Image

Announcing Taste of Mexico on Facebook

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AM/PM, Recap of Our First Digital PM Event

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Last week our Strategy team hosted AM/PM, our first ever coffee chat for digital Project Managers to discuss tools, tips, and challenges facing our community. We had a great turnout, with about thirty attendees from top DC agencies such as Viget, AKQA, and RepEquity. It was amazing to be around so many talented individuals, and hear their insights on project management tools, team structure, and project scope.

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With all of the meet-ups for designers and developers, it’s a rare treat for digital PM’s to have their own space to exchange ideas and foster relationships. We’re hoping that AM/PM can serve that purpose!

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Thanks to everyone that participated! With all the positive feedback we’ve received, we’re looking at hosting our second AM/PM chat later this summer. Stay tuned and join the conversation on the AM/PM twitter account!