What travelling taught me about Design


23rd January 2020


4 min


Dale Jones

This item was originally written by Jay Clarke.

Travelling is something I feel allows you to escape from everyday life and immerse yourself in completely new cultures. This opinion of mine was somewhat tainted when I landed in Vietnam to find my tuk tuk driver taking a selfie on his iPhone.

Whilst traveling you come across a wide range of interfaces that are all necessary in helping you complete tasks such as; getting from A to B‚ finding places to stay‚ getting cash out and finding things to do. As you can imagine‚ not all of these interfaces are the most enjoyable things to interact with.

Whilst I was in Bangkok I had a couple of free days so I emailed a local designer by the name of Jérémie Tisseau about the UX community and whether there were any meet ups that I could pop along to. The reply I got basically said‚ ‘UX hasn’t made its way over here yet‚ I’m trying to change that though.’

Singapore – City Travel Can be Made Enjoyable

Whilst I was in Singapore I took full advantage of the MRT service. Singapore is said to have one of the best city transport systems in the world and this is down to how good the cities rail system is. My experience with this service started by using the route planner online to find out how to get from the airport to Chinatown‚ where I was staying.

The planner allows you to enter your start and end points and recommends the quickest‚ cheapest route for you to take. This simple‚ intuitive interface saved me lots of time and made getting around a lot easier. The only downside to this system is that it’s fairly annoying to use the route planner on a mobile‚ compared to a laptop/tablet.

An official‚ native app to go along with this service would be a nice touch. The designers for this project have done a great job of finding out what the user needs and focusing on making it quick and effective to carry out this particular interaction‚ which is what people want when traveling around a city.

Cambodia – Why is it so Difficult to Spend Money?

My slight hatred towards ATM’s was somewhat heightened whilst I was in Cambodia. The slow‚ painful task of withdrawing money is something that none of us enjoy. Making purchases should be quick‚ easy and secure‚ not slow‚ painful and as unintuitive as juggling fire. This made me think about card payments in more developed countries. As people are using their smart phones more‚ new emerging businesses should focus on making payments simple. Cardspring who have just been bought by Twitter‚ allow companies to link card payments to their app. Services like this make purchasing more interactive‚ which in turn‚ brings in more customers by linking offers to these types of payments. 

In the near future I can see payments through smart devices and online social media growing. As designers we need to make sure that with this new wave of online payments allows for an enjoyable user experience‚ not a painful one

Vietnam – Booking Accommodation is Painful

When booking places to stay I was interested in three things:

  • Have people like me stayed in this place and enjoyed it?

  • Is it in a good location?

  • Does it suit my budget?

The amount of effort you have to go to to find a place you are happy will be the best possible place for you is enormous. The two main apps that I used for booking accommodation were Booking and Hostelworld. These apps would benefit much more by learning who their user is and recommending places for them to stay by finding similar people to them who have stayed in this place before. That way they could recommend hostels that are more likely to be suited to the particular user. 

Most travellers were booking places to stay on their phones the night before‚ so an app that makes booking accommodation simple‚ enjoyable and quick is something that is necessary all over the world.


Sometimes the fact that what we are doing as designers is trying to improve peoples lives by offering more efficient ways for people to do things is forgotten about. Overthought‚ complicated designs are cropping up more and more. Stripping interfaces down to the bare minimum and focusing on their key elements is imperative in order to fulfil the users needs. Making the design more fluid and introducing various micro interactions comes next in order to pull everything together and make sure that the design is enjoyable to interact with.