Moving to a different city can be lonely

Explore your city with NAVA | UX Design project

I am sure many of us have experienced moving to a new city at some point in our lives. Personally, I felt alone, I didn’t have friends and didn’t even know how to begin to explore a place like London. I would have benefitted from an app like NAVA.

This is the final project of the GA UX Design Immersive Course to create a design solution for NAVA.

NAVA is re-inventing city discovery by matching venues and consumers together using machine learning. For consumers, that means personalised recommendations on where to go and for venues, that means insights into where you’re customers are coming from and a better way of reaching them.

NAVA is currently scaling across UK and Germany with over 150K users and industry leading retention on the consumer application.

Current NAVA app

The client asked us to redesign the app with a focus on the following areas:

  • Redesign the Discover feed to help users benefit from immediately personalised content, both to increase app retention and encourage users to actively open and check content on a weekly basis
  • Redesign the Saved Collections to increase the viral loops within the product, but also to create long-term usage due to the time invested into adding places to collections
  • Explore the design and functionality of these two features within the context of the wider app.


2.5 weeks

Team & Role

Working collaboratively as a team of 4, we divided up the tasks to play on our strengths. I worked mainly on user research and on the creation of paper sketches and wireframes. I also actively participated in the design studio workshop with the client and supported the facilitator to run the workshop smoothly.

The Research

Our research strategy focussed on two key areas:

  • competitors — understanding the competitor market.
  • users — understanding users’ motivations, needs and frustrations.

We undertook an analysis to evaluate our competitor’s strengths and weaknesses relative to NAVA’ s product. We wanted to understand how they represent the discover feed, the saved collection and how they personalize the contents.

It was important for us to understand what the users think about the usability of the existing app.

The main problem related to the Discover feed is the unclear distinction between Discover and Explore for both content and icons.

Discover vs Explore

“I don’t understand the difference between Discover and Explore.”

“I need a way to split up this content! It’s a bit too much.”

“I am not able to save in a new folder.

“Interests” and “Saved” use the same heart icon.

Screener survey

In order to do our research we needed to get the right data from the right people at the right time.

So, we:

  • conducted a screener survey to capture the people who fit our criteria and also to filter out the ones that didn’t.
  • created a list of questions to identify our target users.
  • wanted to identify the people who would be using NAVA and who we wanted feedback from.

Who are we going to test?

We sent out the survey and we got 67 responses but not all of them fitted the criteria. Most of the users live in cities and are from the ages of 26–35.

So how do these users find out about new events or activities happening in their area? Most were via websites such as TimeOut and Facebook but majority were via word of mouth.

What is the reason for using an activity app?

  • Out of 67 respondents 43 use an activity app when making plans
  • Most users were either searching for a specific activity or looking for inspiration. These were the users we wanted to target and do further research.

We also wanted to understand what they felt the pain points were when using an app to keep in mind for future development of the design of NAVA.

We wanted to use this information to potentially identify ways we could improve their experience.

What makes you lose interest in an app?

User interviews

Once we knew who our target audience was, we wanted to dig a little bit deeper and understand their behaviour surrounding activity planning.

We conducted 12 one-on-one interview sessions and asked questions to uncover behaviour and habits of users. We got insights on what users think about the product or process, what site content is memorable, what is important on the site, and ideas for improvement.

  • What the interviews uncovered was that when it comes to activity planning users tended to trust their friends for recommendations.

“Recommendations are good because you have things in common with your friends, so it’s usually more reliable.”

  • Social media also had a big influence.

“I don’t find it hard to find things to do because I just see who is going on FB”

The community aspect seemed to be a reoccurring theme with users. They wanted to know that they were getting recommendations from trustworthy sources.

With all the information we gathered from the user interviews and everything we learned, we created a persona Bobby that represents the people who could use NAVA.

The problem is that:


How can we help Bobby achieve this outcome?

To explore the potential solutions we collaborated with Kurt and Chris from NAVA to generate some ideas through sketching.

Based on the research findings, we focused on two ‘how might we’ statements to guide us towards our solutions.

How might we….

  • help Bobby to be inspired by relevant content and not feel overwhelmed on the discover feed?
  • build a sense of community on NAVA so that Bobby feels the recommendations have more social proof?

We dot voted on the sketches that most effectively communicated a solution to the how might we statements.

From this, three ideas emerged:

  • categorised content and horizontal scrolling on the discover feed for more intuitive experience
  • users being able to social proof content to their friends, by adding in profiles pages for users
  • increased personalisation of place cards and the homepage

Coming back to the scenario, we mapped out the steps Bobby would need to take using the app, in order to achieve his goal of finding some inspiration for somewhere to go out on the weekend — via the social proofing of a friend.

We wanted to ensure that the path to Bobby’s goal or user flow, would be both intuitive and in as few steps as possible.

User flow

Once we’d established the user flow, we were able to develop this further and start designing the outline or skeleton for the pages. We begun with a low-fidelity paper prototype, which allowed us to be flexible in implementing and adapting our design ideas. We went through a cycle of usability testing (to assess the flow and uncover any significant issues), followed by making iterations based on the findings.

Each time stepping up the level of fidelity to include mid, and high fidelity digitised designs. Meaning we were able to incorporate more visual design elements and help bring the designs to life.


Discover feed terminology

Users were confused with the terminology on the discover feed, so we did a quick guerrilla test on 15 users to get more of an understanding on which terms could be more suitable.

There was an overwhelming majority for the wording “we spoke to” compared to “In conversation with” and other phrases we presented to users.

Similarly, the majority of users found the phrase “Activities for you” more comprehendible and personal than “Interest guides” and other phrases we presented to them.

Another large area of development involved the icons.

Usability testing revealed that the Discover and Explore icons and pages were too indistinguishable for users.

We conducted some tests to compare the icons and work out which would be most effective in conveying the two main purposes of these pages, i.e. looking for inspiration versus searching for something specific.

We found that the house icon could best represented somewhere with more personalised content and looking to be inspired compared to the lightening bolt, especially when used in combination with the magnifying glass.

We found that the magnifying glass for explore, was the most effective icon in communicating that the page is for searching for specific places with some kind of criteria in mind, compared to the planet, which users associated with discovery.

Lastly we investigated the saved icon. We initially added in a heart and a bookmark, to serve two functions. The heart for publicly liking and the bookmark for privately saving, considering the new social component.

However, the usability tests revealed this was actually too confusing for users, because they believed they were too similar in functionality.

The heart icon was also strongly associated with ‘liking’ which is commonly found on social media.

So we rolled each of these features into one icon, the bookmark. Which was more associated with saving to come back to later on. Now the users can make public collections of saved items on their profiles which their friends can view and be inspired to visit.


The final prototype walkthrough (available here) was presented to the client after the design sprint.

Next steps

While the design sprint has reached an end, the app would benefit from the following next steps.


More testing of the hi-fidelity mock up


A design sprint to develop further the Search and Plan features


Rolling out the design to different device types and accessibility checks.

Key Takeaways

Proudly, NAVA welcomed our solutions.

People is the most important thing in this project. The sense of community is surely the strongest feel I had at all time while I was working at NAVA app.

Overall, a great inspiring and fulfilling experience! I am glad to had the opportunity to work within my team and NAVA team. Acknowledging each other’s strengths, supporting each other, but also complementing each other’s skills, and finding common ground to resolve design issues has allowed the team to grow during the project.

Feel engaged and do my best to accomplish users needs. That why I love to be an UX designer!

Lidia Sambito

UX Researcher