Cindy Amaya
OPen
A redesigned platform enabling users to book stays and activities at a coffee farm.

El Carmen Estate

Client

El Carmen Estate

Timeline

Apr - Jun 2023

Scope of Work

UX/UI Design, Research, Branding, Photography

Type

Website Redesign

The El Carmen Estate, situated in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range of El Salvador, is one of Central America’s prime specialty coffee-producing areas. In recent years, they have expanded their services to include tourism offerings such as coffee tours and overnight accommodations. Still, the user experience falls short when users have no way of accessing detailed information or booking tours directly through the estate's website.

Problem

Users encounter issues when selecting dates for tours or activities, consistently seeing a message indicating unavailability, despite the variety of options available. Contacting the resort is limited to email or phone, and the non-responsive website poses challenges for mobile users, impacting readability.

Solution

The aim was to create an intuitive and responsive booking platform. This redesign aimed to eliminate the persistent issue of unavailable dates by implementing a dynamic system, ensuring real-time updates.

Process

Discover

A Journey Across Rolling Hills in Coffee Tourism
Before
After
Getting the broad picture

To start, I researched the hospitality industry and coffee tourism to gain a deeper understanding. This helped validate any initial assumptions I may have had.

Coffee Tourism

  • In 2022, 2.5 million visitors entered El Salvador, which represented 96% recovery [from 2019].

  • Research shows a significant interest in people experiencing and learning about different cultures in other corners of the world. A popular way for tourists to experience local traditions is by learning more about food and beverages from a particular place.

  • El Salvadoran coffee production developed without the technical and financial assistance used by their nearby competitors, such as Guatemala and Costa Rica. Nonetheless, El Salvador has become one of the most competent coffee producers in the world.

Hospitality Trends

  • Innova Market Insights, a food and beverage market research firm, found that 56% of global consumers say a brand’s story influences their decision to buy.

  • According to research from Stanford, 75% of users will judge a company’s credibility based on their site’s design.

Scoping out the competition

The second step was to conduct a competitive analysis and familiarize myself with other coffee farms. I analyzed competitors that are in El Salvador and in surrounding countries that also operate as a hotel offering similar services.

Guests value a booking process that is straightforward, efficient, and transparent

To understand coffee-loving travelers, I conducted user interviews and surveys, using open-ended questions to uncover insights into their travel motivations, needs, and booking habits. Additionally, interviews with hotel staff were carried out to pinpoint any challenges or difficulties they encountered.

Findings

  • Location: Participants favor booking near main attractions

  • Visual Appeal: Guests assess comfort through photos

  • Transparency: Participants value quality and clear pricing

  • Direct Booking: To secure deals, guests prefer booking directly on the hotel's website

  • Real-time Availability: Requested room types via email may encounter delays if unavailable

Define

An Enriching Coffee Adventure

The focus is on facilitating effortless navigation, ensuring each visitor seamlessly explores accommodations, dining, tours, and events.

Meet the users

Conducting user interviews and surveys led to the creation of two distinct personas: the busy tourist and the blushing bride. Identifying common attributes among this group revealed shared characteristics such as time constraints, a preference for convenience, and a desire for enjoyable and educational experiences.

A map to a better coffee farm experience

Through conducting competitive analysis and user research, an understanding of the user's mental model regarding navigation was achieved. Upon reviewing the existing website, it became apparent that multiple pages led to identical content, resulting in redundancy. To resolve this issue, a new sitemap was developed to allow customers direct access to the information they seek

Design

A Harmonious Blend of Aesthetics

At this point, I gathered enough information to begin sketching low-fidelity ideas for a potential homepage layout and including key features that enhance the travel booking experience for users.

Crafting the Identity of a New Blend

When crafting the brand identity, I found inspiration in the natural beauty of El Salvador. The moody lush green of coffee leaves and the rich volcanic soil that defines the region drew my attention. Opting for a deep green color palette, I aimed to evoke the verdant foliage of coffee plants. Additionally, I introduced a touch of bright green, infusing an element of playfulness as well as earthy tones to represent the volcanic soil, contributing to a grounded and inviting aesthetic.

To create a memorable logo, I wanted something instantly recognizable. After brainstorming several ideas, I settled on a simple elegant design featuring a stylized coffee plant to further emphasize the brand’s connection to nature and the hotel's name in bold lettering.

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Test and Iterate

Refining the Prototype

After analyzing user feedback, the next phase involved addressing problem areas and implementing revisions to enhance the prototype. Several specific improvements have been identified:

  • Menu icon placement: Relocating the menu icon to the left can result in better visibility and accessibility for users

  • Quantity option for added activities: This addition allows users to easily select the desired number of participants, eliminating any confusion or unnecessary steps

  • Switching the tab label from 'Coffee Tour' to 'Activity' in the booking platform allows users to book a variety of farm activities beyond just the coffee tour

Album Playlist
Personal Playlist

From the home screen, users move to the targeted album playlist, activate multi-select with a long press, and swiftly choose multiple songs. Actions for an album playlist include "Add to Playlist," "Hide Songs," "Add to Queue," and "Share."

From the home screen, users navigate to their personal playlist, activate the multi-select mode through a long press, and choose multiple songs. Options include, "Add to Playlist," "Remove from Playlist," "Add to Queue," "Share," "Move to Top," and "Move to Bottom."

Lessons in adaptability

The prior website's booking process faced usability challenges, leading to confusion and abandoned bookings. In response, I redesigned the process, simplifying steps and emphasizing responsive design. This aimed to provide a seamless, constraint-free experience for users exploring the resort's offerings. Despite unexpected challenges during the redesign, including unresponsiveness from the hotel midway through the project, I remained committed to delivering optimal design solutions. This experience highlighted potential obstacles and reinforced the importance of adapting to real-world constraints in the UX design process.

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