Courtyard by Marriott GoBoard
Research; Strategy; UX/UI Design; Art Direction
The GoBoard is a digital, brand-standard solution that has been used in Courtyard hotels for the past 9 years. When I became involved, the application was ready for an overhaul to match the new demographic, current tech space, and updated branding. Our initial redesign, in 2014, was a superficial re-skinning of the original application. While the new design was a cleaned-up version of the original concept, it quickly became clear that the actual functionality and user experience needed to be re-examined in order to increase engagement and solidify the GoBoard's original purpose of being a helpful tool for guests looking to immerse themselves in local experiences.
Our first step in the most recent re-imagining of the GoBoard user experience was to take a close look at Courtyard's target demographic, and examine their current needs and behaviors. In examining the millennials they hoped to reach and engage, the biggest hurdle would be providing something on the interactive screens that couldn't be accessed as easily on their phones. By interviewing representatives from their target user group, as well as performing strategy exercises with various members of Marriott corporate leadership, we developed some initial hypotheses for ways that we could use the technology to benefit their guests. First, we determined that the large, 55" screens, prominently placed in high-traffic lobby areas, were our biggest advantage over smartphones. In addition, the ability to schedule targeted content and messaging to push hotel marketing and timely travel tips became a big focus. As we identified the most effective way to use the technology, we determined the need to redesign the interface in a way that pushed information out to passersby, rather than requiring them to pull it out themselves, as with the old version. This way, users could gain value without even physically interacting, but it would still give them the ability to take a moment of pause and dig deeper if they so chose.
As with any project, I began with quick sketches to get some ideas on paper, and then moved into digital wireframes that I was able to review with focus groups and Marriott leadership. The design was based on trending layouts that users are familiar with seeing on current apps, providing a masonry display of animated content that switched out at periodic intervals, keeping the home screen fresh and inviting at all times. We worked together to iterate on the home screen layout via prototypes in Invision, eventually landing on a 4-quadrant layout, with each of the quadrants representing a different facet that was important to both their users and business needs: News/Social, Local Info, Weather/Traffic, and Hotel Promotions. Through the use of strong calls to action, the user is invited to explore the details more thoroughly through either the quick-view buttons, or a more traditional menu located within the side tab, accessible at any point throughout the UX.
We introduced the redesigned GoBoard at an owners' conference, explaining the design decisions and soliciting feedback from those with their boots on the ground. While the complete change in direction on a decade-old product was a bit jarring from some traditionalists, the intuitive user interface generally won them over quite quickly. However, through user testing at the conference, we did make some additional tweaks before rolling it out to a set of pilot properties, then soliciting feedback from those users and finalizing the product. The current GoBoard design went live at over 1000 properties worldwide, seeing higher usage numbers than ever before with over 5 million interactions annually.
"[The GoBoard] really is the thread that helps tie our hotels together and helps us provide that experience to our guests, consistently, wherever their travels take them."