helm Case Study

What is Helm?

Helm is a travel research and itinerary app that puts the traveler at the helm of their travel planning experience.


Solo capstone project for a 10 week UX Design course, Spring 2019

What I did

UX Research
Content Strategy
Product Design
Bungy Jump :)

tools used

Adobe XD

the Problem


Travelers I interviewed estimated that they spent an average of 14 hours conducting research for their last international trip. The extensive amount of time spent planning stemmed from reasons such as determining ROI, wanting to feel prepared, as well as having to consolidate and organize information from multiple sources.

Travelers may need a better way to reduce 'information overload' while planning for travel in order to alleviate the overwhelm in pulling their plans together and staying organized.

How might we?

How might we simplify travel research and organization so that travelers can feel prepared and maximize their experience while on their trip?

Design Process

customer research & interviews

In interviews with participants, I found that travelers do want to simplify their travel planning but not at the sake of finding experiences they'll enjoy most.

key insight

While participants felt frustrated and overwhelmed with conducting and organizing research, they wanted to triangulate multiple perspectives in order to find the perfect activities to maximize their experience. 

Travelers want to triangulate multiple perspectives in order to confirm these experiences will live up to their expectations.

Information architecture + user flow

I used card sorting in order to gather insights into what participants would expect the interface and flow to be organized.

I inferred that participants prioritized "Explore", "Trips", and "Preferences", which informed the home screen interface and hierarchy as well as the navigation bar.

I also chose to include text underneath the navigation icons in order to provide more context, especially with respect to the Explore Icon (I used Helm's logo — the ship wheel).

I created an interaction flow to further explore the product experience as a whole. The interaction flow brought clarity to not only the flow but how the UI could be simplified to better guide the customer through the various customer goals (including edge cases).

challenging assumptions

An assumption I made when I set out on solving this problem was that travelers may want a better way to keep track of local-specific cultural information while on their trip. Participant interviews squashed that assumption and informed the direction of the app.

While participants were sensitive to cultural differences, their main interest was in identifying the right experiences so that they could maximize their investment in the trip.

By listening to my target audience, I was able to center the design around solutions that aim to help solve their problem.

the solution

MVP Features

Informed by my participant interviews and a market analysis, I developed four key opportunity areas that would aim to address customer needs as well as gaps in the market.

01 Exploration

02 Individualization

03 Triangulation

04 Accessible organization


To provide efficient exploration, the product offers functions to search, filter, and browse places and experiences.

Search Screen

Recommendations filtered by Travel Experts

Browsing places


Optional trip preferences aim to minimize time spent searching experiences by providing personalized recommendations based on a customer's selections.


The recommendations tab offers a solution to triangulate advice and reviews from travel experts, locals, and other travelers.

This solution aims to provide the variety of data the customer is looking for in order to  cut down on time spent researching experiences from multiple sources.

Recommendations filtered by Travel Experts

Accessible Organization

An adjustable itinerary aims to meet the needs of all-in-one exploration and organization of trip experiences as well as changing interests and continued exploration while traveling.

Itinerary details showing list of all experiences

Add to Trip modal; showing Success Feedback

Calendar modal for trip

Sign up screens



With a background in industries that value precise analytical and operational processes that favor structure and fast-paced execution, I learned the value of iteration and principled exploration through Helm. And through these numerous iterations, I've learned the importance of thinking in systems.

What I would do differently

A challenge I faced with Helm is that the 10-week course did not include user testing to measure key metrics that would deliver insights and help me evaluate my design decisions.

My next steps with Helm would be to run usability and competitive testing in order to test the UX.