My primary role within the project was to lead the discovery and research phases of the engagement which included research planning, stakeholder interviews, ethnographic research, user testing and research analysis. I was also responsible for creating prototypes of the app which were used for both client-facing design reviews and user testing purposes. I also developed UI components in support of our lead visual designer on the project.
Great Wolf locations around the country are often in areas where there are competing attractions nearby, some of which might draw larger crowds. An example of this can be seen in Garden Grove, CA where the Great Wolf location is competing with arguably the largest attraction in the country - Disneyland. Because of this, it’s important for Great Wolf to highlight its defining features: an indoor waterpark only accessible to guests and a theme which caters to young families with children. This surfaced several interesting initial questions which we kept in mind as we developed our discovery and research strategy:
We decided early on that the best way to validate some of our initial assumptions and fully understand the problem at hand was to immerse ourselves in all aspects of Great Wolf from lodge operations to the general customer experience. Over the course of the project, the design team visited three Great Wolf locations (Wisconsin Dells, Anaheim and Minneapolis) to conduct research and provide us with a range of experiences.
Site visits usually consisted of three main phases:
Certain Great Wolf locations face difficult competition for staff members because of their proximity to other resorts. Managers and staff often face scenarios where they are not able to address issues fast enough which leads to frustrated guests. We saw this as an opportunity to prioritize features and workflows within the app that would create operational efficiency by encouraging self-service.
Guests spend a lot of time interacting with the characters of Great Wolf - all of whom have different personalities. You see them in their activities, on the menus and in the rooms yet they don’t have much of an online presence and most guests are not aware of them until they arrive. We felt that the app could be an ideal place for us to allow the personalities of the characters to shine through.
The insights we gathered during our site visits helped us to validate certain assumptions we held and allowed us to test the strength of our ideas and early concepts against real data. In order to continue the development of our designs, we knew it was important to put them in front of potential users. With the help of Great Wolf, we schedule remote interview sessions with 10 former guests. The sessions were around 45 minutes to an hour and was designed so I could walk through specific sections of the app with the participant. Generally, I focused on the following areas of interest:
One of the features we introduced to the app is mobile check-in functionality which mirrored the online check-in functionality that already existed on the dot com site. However, since this was in a mobile format and the guests using it might literally be moving while using the app, the workflows seemed complicated and lengthy. This is something we wanted to keep in mind - how could we translate existing workflows to be more efficient on a mobile format?