Mobile App Design


January - February 2018


4 weeks


Simon Sun, Manasi Maheshwari, Elena Wu-Yan, Luke Xu


Paper Prototyping


19.3 million visitors come to the Boston/Cambridge area every year; for many, Harvard is a must-see stop. However, visitor information about the school is scarce on campus, and many tourists do little to no research prior to arriving. This leads to a frustrating experience: not knowing what to do, where to go, or even where public-accessible bathrooms are. While tours are available, most tourists want a self-paced experience that did not exist.

Design Prompt

Use the power of mobile technology to transform the experience of being a tourist on Harvard campus.

CrimsonCam is a mobile app that turns the campus into a museum, featuring a 3-pronged approach with a computer vision camera, chatbot, and integrated tourist map.

Talking to Tourists

Each member of the team independently conducted 2 contextual inquiries, for a total of 8 contextual inquiries.

Research Questions

  • Why did tourists visit Harvard?
  • What kinds of people visit the campus?
  • What activities are tourists doing or would like to do?
  • What difficulties are tourists having during their visit?
  • What existing technologies are tourists using?
  • How are tourists seeking help when they need it?

Key Findings

  • Tourists wanted more ways to interact with the campus/buildings.
  • Tourists had trouble finding amenities such as restrooms or places to sit.
  • Various reasons to visit, including just stopping by as part of a larger trip to Boston or an intentional trip due to family connections.
  • Most expected more information on-campus.
  • Most visitors wanted a self-paced experience.

Exploring Ideas

Based on our research, we created 4 design goals.

Design Goals

  • Allow users to have a self-directed tour and pacing.
  • Help users find relevant interest-based locations.
  • Help users gain more insight about Harvard beyond external appearance.
  • Help users find basic amenities (bathroom, brochures).


After narrowing our ideas to the top 4, we created storyboards for each one. We eventually settled on a "tour guide" solution that combined an AR camera, map, and chat bot, as we felt it satisfied the user need for a self-directed experience the most.

Prototyping and Testing

We rapidly built a paper prototyping that would allow us to test with tourists.

User Testing

4 groups of tourists were approached to test CrimsonCam.

Key Insights

  • Users may be paralyzed and not know what to ask the chatbot.
  • Tourists wished for some sort of guidance, for instance a make-you-own-tour.
  • May be difficult to know what buildings have the AR feature enabled.


Next steps

Next steps could include taking the findings from the user testing and creating a higher fidelity digital prototype.


Due to the limited time restraints and the requirements of the assignment, we were unable to further iterate on the design or create higher fidelity prototypes. Even so, our project was voted the best among our studio. Our team worked extremely well together and everyone was very collaborative and flexible. Improvements could have been made in the research phase, as there were times where I felt the team had fixated on potential solutions before the phase was done. More data also could have been collected, both during research and testing, but the accelerated timeline made that difficult.

This was my first exposure to UX design and the user-centered design process. While truncated and lacking in higher fidelity deliverables and techniques such as personas or flows, this project nonetheless taught me so much about design and was the foundation for the rest of my design career.