Globetrotter iPhone App Design

As part of a Design Research course at MSU, my group researched and prototyped an iPhone application that could help 18-29 year old travelers interact meaningfully with friendly locals, and thereby experience the genuine culture of that city.


The mobile platform made the most sense for enabling real-time connections with others in new places. To this end, I conducted a competitive analysis of popular location-based tools that had a social aspect or imperative.

The competitive analysis helped to identify significant trends in design and functionality that we could build upon.


As a group, we then conducted ethnographic research and interviews in public spaces conducive to meeting others. We watched to see how others interacted with each other, how strangers met each other, positioned themselves, utilized their mobile devices, and more.

The insights from our ethnographic research gave us reason to shift our target audience scope slightly to cater to locals as well as travelers - they were just as willing to meet new people and learn about their area from other locals as well! We were also able to glean contextual clues for how our mobile application would actually be used in the public space.


The design process for the application was extremely collaborative. The team sat down to discuss and sketch different aspects of the application. We looked at iPhone standards and design patterns, and combined our individual thumbnail sketches.

After a rough framework of the application had been created, we split up the design work and each designed our sections using Pidoco, a collaborative mobile prototyping software.

We wanted to test the prototype in a public space and get user feedback to continue iterating on our design, but the end of the semester proved to be an indomitable time constraint.

However, we did create a concept video to succinctly explain what our application could do:


  • Time Frame
  • Jan 2011 - May 2011

  • Methods & Skills
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Ethnographic Interviews
  • Prototyping
  • Sketching
  • User Interface Design

  • Tools
  • Pen & paper
  • Photoshop
  • Pidoco (prototyping)

  • Team Members
  • Christopher Scott
  • Kristina Oygardslia
  • Sandrine Do

  • Deliverables ↓
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Concept video
  • Ethnographic Report
  • Prototype