The Outbound Collective

www.theoutbound.com

Overview

The Outbound helps travelers find local adventure, tours, lodging, and inspiration. I'm responsible for the entire design process, from product strategy, user research, UX and IA, all the way to visual design and front-end development.

Since joining the team, I've helped grow organic traffic through site content and SEO  optimization, overall site traffic 300% and designed and launched our iOS and Android apps.

Utilizing Community Feedback

For a recent series of design updates, I conducted over 40 hours of phone interviews + additional qualitative surveys and analytics evaluations to help identify pressing issues and trends amongst our community members.

The transcriptions of these interviews were concatenated into a single document which broke down the feedback into overarching themes. After discussion with the full team, each theme was then given a series of possible actionable design, dev, and business decisions to help us address the issues at hand. We evaluated these options with respect to 4 pillars:  revenue growth, user growth, user engagement, and hypothesized overall impact on the product (low/med/high).

A few key takeaways:

Our most frequent users see us as a *travel* tool.

How do we continue to support these high-engagement users and and encourage this use-case to users that don't use The Outbound as much?

Our reach and audience is global.

How can we promote international destinations and improve the visibility and use-case of international travel?

We're not quite a "one stop shop"

What features can we develop to become a more complete travel tool and avoid losing users towards the end of their travel planning process?

One of the key changes we made was updating the homepage with an increased focus on search and discovery. We found that while most of our community was happy and familiar with the features of the site, a significant portion of first-time users had a very narrow view into what The Outbound was capable of. As we continued to grow internationally, it was important for us to position The Outbound as an adventure travel tool, rather than a media publication or "hiking in your backyard" focus.

We re-worked our search experience to place great highlight on different types of content in a given destination, and added common searches and featured destinations in order to better frame search possibilities to a new user.

An early issue with the site I addressed was a problematic relationship between "spots", "destinations" and "locations" on the site. Not only was the naming convention confusing, but the purpose and value of each in the context of the site wasn't clear.

Working with engineers.

In coming up with a strategy to address this issue, it was invaluable for me to have a competent understanding of how our Rails models and database were structured. I was able to have frank conversations with our lead Rails engineer about manageable steps that wouldn't break our entire system and still allowed us to move forward with improvements.

Being able to jump into our Rails codebase, or at least having a competent understanding of more in-depth engineering issues that are beyond my skillset has been an asset -- especially working on a small team.

Plus, most of these are squashed commits :)

Mobile Optimization

Mobile visitors represent nearly 60% of The Outbound's traffic. A large portion of these visitors arrive via google searches for specific adventures, or while looking for things to do near them. It was important for us to make sure that these pages were loading quickly, and the information was organized in a way that both gave visitors the information they need and encouraged further exploration.

After a series of updates around image optimization, hiding/showing specific info differently on mobile, and optimizing db requests, we were able to decrease page load times and increase time-on-site for mobile visitors.undefined

Email

Early in 2019 I helped oversee a transition of our email marketing from Mailgun to Sendgrid. This allowed us to be more data-driven, deliver additional insights to partners, and be more flexible with our designs, content and more. I'm responsible for building and sending approximately 2 million marketing emails each month. I A/B test and evaluate the subject lines and content to make improvements to our email strategy as we go.

Is that all?

No, not really. Maybe I'll find some time soon to add an overview of how we got the Outbound's custom studio off the ground, our social media strategy, and more :)