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Shorestays

user interface design

Overview

Beach home rental app with community-based incentives

Product:

My Role:

Product conceptualization, design, and development (personal project)

Designed in:

March 2023

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Overview – The Problem

This app was an addition to a quarter-long urban planning project designing a beach city. The project aimed to address two main problems: lack of family-friendly features embedded into the city itself, as well as ways to help address and mitigate tensions between residents and tourists. In beach towns and other areas with a "tourist season", tourism is viewed negatively by residents for increasing traffic, taking up parking spaces, leaving behind poor ecological footprints, and using community resources without providing non-monetary benefit to the community itself. Modern trends to address this predominantly lie within the ecotourism realm, which focuses more on responsible travel and community preservation. This is unlikely to work for beach cities like those on the Jersey Shore, where tourists travel more locally and don't view resident communities as requiring "preservation". This app works to address the problem of mitigating resident-tourist tensions through providing incentives to vacation in more community-based ways.

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Problem Identification + Ideation

For this app to have the most impact, it should aim to address both tourist and resident audiences. As such, it should propose a novel idea that benefits both groups

Tourist Needs:

  • A place to sleep

  • A method of transit

  • Knowledge of the area, recommendations of places to visit

Resident Needs:

  • Community upkeep (no littering, etc)

  • More diverse spread of foot traffic (local restaurants often not dined at by tourists unless on boardwalk)

  • Less blocked up roadways and parking spaces
     

After speaking with several residents of Jersey Shore beach houses, I learned that while they did hold animosity towards tourists, residents often personally profited off tourists. It wasn't uncommon for full-time residents to own additional property elsewhere or extra rooms in their home, and as such, they would often AirBnb these spaces or rent them out via word-of-mouth. And so, a new problem emerged.

Airbnb's margins for using the service were too high, but to rely on word-of-mouth led to more advertising difficulty.

I soon realized that creating a more community-based Airbnb alternative would kill several birds with one stone. One, it would increase profits for residents. Two, it would address the primary concern for tourists (finding a place to sleep). Three, it offered the potential to more evenly disperse tourist-community engagement through a more communication-oriented design. This would also provide novel features to the app that would differentiate it from competitors. While I originally anticipated doing this through creating a cleaner chat feature, I instead decided to embed incentives for users to better engage with community spaces and public works. I also envisioned this app being used by local governments themselves, and as such, app profit margins would be used to improve public works.

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Design System

Colors

Typography

brand font: hinge

header font: caudex

body font: helvetica

Components

This app aligned with current UI trends pivoting towards more minimalist, monochrome but bright color palettes. Blue was chosen due to the app's focus towards beach towns, to resemble that of the ocean. Lighter baby blues and millenial grays accompany the main bold blue.

While I traditionally try to limit the number of fonts within a certain design system as much as possible, in this case three fonts seemed necessary. Since shorestays. has no logo, the brand name had to have a distinct font that depicted modernity, playfulness, but simultaneously demonstrate elegant maturity. The headers required a bolder, more impactful font. Normally given the digital interface a sans serif font could seem ideal, but Caudex's clear readability presented a strong, more accessible alternative for dyslexic users. The app requires extensive body text in certain home descriptions, and for brevity here I chose to use a cleaner sans serif font. Helvetica was the perfect choice for modern audiences.

To fit with current UI trends, the app features predominantly tile components with rounded edges of radius size 20-30 px. It also features flat lay graphic elements in the more minimalist style.

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Prototype

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