About the Project

Challenge: Hikers struggle to find updated and integrated safety information about trails and routes, including trail conditions and crime information of a particular space. There are not many applications in the market with a main focus on safety and security especially focusing on people who are active. 

Solution: A mobile and a wearable application that serves as a planning and safety tool which enables users to enjoy the outdoors without any worry. People can search for trails or routes and get easily digestible data of the place, update others on important news about the trails and also send loved ones their location or their ETA for safety. 

Timeline: 3 months          Focus: User Research/HCI.          Team: Sara, Taka, Harika   


My Role: Visual and Interaction designer. This involved designing mockups, building the style guide and working on the high fidelity mockups.           

I am here for...

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How might we enhance the experience of urban wanderers? 

Trek is a mobile application that allows active individuals to ensure their safety while participating in their favorite activities. The idea is to instill a sense of security so runners, hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers can enjoy their outdoor passions.

What is Trek?


Contextual Inquiry 

Townlake, Austin, TX is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located in the downtown region of Austin. You can see the city skyline through the spaces between trees. Bridges interlink the greens present on either side of the lake, which is the USP of the place. 

Barton creek Greenbelt, Austin, TX is situated in the South-Central Region of Austin, sprawling over 12.68 mi of trails with thick uninhibited vegetation and sparse population. You can go miles without seeing people as the trails are vaguely defined and have multiple routes to the same destination. For an unfamiliar hiker, it is easy to get lost within the trail. 

Contextual Analysis

To further analyze the data we collected from the interviews an Affinity Diagram was done which helped us to identify patterns and categorize them based on likes/dislikes, issues and challenges faced by hikers and runners. 

After listing down information on post its and placing them on the wall we discovered three main themes; Pleasure, Safety and technology. Safety was further divided into Perceptions and Actions. Below is a digitized view of our WAAD. 


Research Insights 

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Identifying Work Roles:

We identified Major, minor and Machine roles in the scope of our project and also understood what stood beyond our control. This also made us understand where the users stood in the complex web of activities. 

Community, trusted sources and other participants in the same location, emergency services and others portals for informations, were some of the roles we identified apart from our product users. 

Initial Work flow diagram

Hierarchical Task Inventory 

We created a Hierarchical Task Inventory because it helped us map out user goals and intentions. It allowed us to talk through each task and better understand the system in relation to the user’s experience. We focused on four main tasks.


an activity


trail info




during activity

Building the Information Architecture using the 4 main tasks


Designing the TREK experience



We came up with 3 scenarios, in order to get a deeper understanding of how our application can be used in a social context. The idea was to sketch an actual use case scenario to check the validity of the product to seamlessly integrate into people's life


After speaking to a number of runners at the Town Lake trail, we felt that the persona of Gwen represented a good number of our users. She represents how the app could be used for its safety features in the Austin area and beyond. Our interviews revealed discussions of how family and friends expressed safety concerns so we wanted to include a persona that exemplified this. Gwen contains many characteristics of who we are aiming to solve problems for.

Pen+Paper (Lo-Fi's)

As a team, we worked through our model requirements and discussed how to translate these into rough sketches. We found the hierarchical task inventory model helpful as we considered how to conceptualize screens.

Together we brainstormed and identified important main features and functions of the app that helped us refine our sketching process. We also sketched individually and compared ideas to pick the most functional options from each idea. I used the 'Crazy 8' technique to develop my screens.

new doc 2018-10-30 11.07.20_1 2.jpg

Medium-fidelity Prototype

Our team used Balsamiq to develop these prototypes in a span of 1 week. Due to the scope of the project we have made the prototype to respond to the following tasks:

home screen descrip.png


Style Guide


Before moving on to the High fidelity prototype I went on to make a mood board for Trek




Accent colors 



System Colors

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg

Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn

Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu 

Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg

Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn

Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu 

Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0



Used for Headings, Large format texts and buttons 



Used on body texts, subheadings etc

High fidelity prototype


Before moving on to the High fidelity prototype I went on to make a mood board for Trek

Working on a creative way to show this to you!

Check back in a week to see this section.



Having a framework before heading onto the field to observe or interview is crucial. 

Coming up with a research goal and having a common direction within the team helped us in having a more focused research. Being an intuitive anthropologist takes time but practicing it with frameworks like AEIOU helps in getting there. 

Field sketches help in getting the mind working on the tiniest details and help us empathize more with the users.

We were able to collect a significant amount of data in the form of field sketches and field notes. I believe we learned a lot during this process: where the users’ park their cars, how they start on the trail, how they move through the trial. Writing notes and sketching helped us in observing the finer details. Although we did observe people during the day, we were unable to do so at night, which was essential for our application.

Talking aloud when placing or moving around the notes in WAAD help in getting your point across to your team.

It was difficult to make the Work activity notes self-standing or limit them to one concept from the raw data collected from the interview questions. We had a lot of trouble clustering the notes in groups as each team member had their own idea about the way the application was going to behave. This process helped us to discuss others point of views and eventually come to a conclusion.

Collaboration during the design process is important, so is ideating alone.

Our team made an informed decision to ideate alone, come back and pitch their design to the team members, after which each feature was weighed down carefully to be included in the final prototype. After which we worked collaboratively to produce the artifacts.  

Find REAL users to test the application to find usability issues. 

Due to the scope of the class, we were unable to test our prototype with real users on the field. We tested the application on our classmates and other UT Grads who might view it in a different light than real users like Gwen.