Case Study

Hidden Gems


Collaborated with a cross-functional team (UX designers, developers, and data scientists) to create a solution for the hospitality and travel industry's small business recovery from the pandemic.


  • UX Research
  • UI Design

Project Info

DATE 3-day design competition
ROLE Visual Designer
PROJECT Creating digital product
TOOLS Figma, Miro, and Canva


  • UX Research: Surveying, User Persona Creation, Problem Statement, How Might We Statements
  •  UI Design: Ideation, Sketching, Wire-framing, Usability Testing, Branding

High-fidelty Prototype

The Design Process


The Problem

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has been struggling. Travel spending was down 42%. Some of the worst hit businesses have been local inns, boutique hotels, and bed & breakfasts.

Lacking the same resources as large hotel chains to implement increased cleaning services and contactless check-in, many local inns are in danger of shutting down permanently unless there is a drastic influx of guests soon after travel becomes safe again.

Insights & Discovering Common Themes

We surveyed 35 individuals to understand their needs and pain points on finding stays for travel during the pandemic.


User Persona


After compiling and analyzing the research, we developed a user persona that would address the goals and frustrations of finding unique places to stay while traveling post-pandemic.

Meet Jamie.

Jamie is a 35-year-old man daydreaming of traveling again. He's been very careful and protective of himself and his family during the pandemic. Jamie wants to book a stay at a charming bed and breakfast and explore somewhere new with his family. He hopes they get to immerse themselves in the local culture and experience all that's to offer at their destination.


- Explore & immerse himself in new places with his family

- Support small, local businesses


- Easily discover new places to stay

- Feel safe while traveling


- Hard to find unique inns or bed and breakfasts

- Missing that authentic, local feeling while traveling

Local inn/bed and breakfast/boutique hotel owners

Meet Anne.

Anne is a 45-year-old inn-owner wishing she had more guests. She's been ensuring that her inn is clean and in the best shape during the pandemic. Anne wants to book more traveling guests at her inn and hopes to attract these guests by offering an immerse, local experience with hidden gems!


- Reach more traveling guests

- Support small, local businesses


- Way to interest travelers to book

- Easy listing of lodging


- Loss of “warm & cozy” feeling because of pandemic

- Feeling overwhelmed by the competition

- Has a hard time building trust with travelers

Problem Statement

Jaimie needs an easy way to find unique lodging that reflects the local experience for him and his family that allow them to fully immerse themselves in their destination.

How Might We Statements

- How might we get Jamie to look for lodging on our website vs another online booking platform like AirBnb?

- How might we allow Jaimie to easily find and compare different local lodging options in one place?

- How might we excite Jamie and his family for a stay at a small businesses lodging?

- How might we show recommendations of places to stay from friends/family/other travelers?

- How might we personalize the ‘looking for lodging’ experience?


Beginning Sketches

We did a quick crazy eights session with our team (UX designers, developers, and data scientists) to get initial thoughts on the landing/listing page of Hidden Gems. Mostly everyone designed a space where users could search listings and filter options according to various details to be decided on later. Additionally, there were clear navigation options of "search for listings", "list your inn", and a "profile" feature. Having a place where travelers and inn-owners could both go to seemed vital to our mission.

Due to time constraints of this three-day design sprint, we jumped straight into high-fidelity wireframe designs and followed with user testing.

High-fidelity Wireframes

Name & Logo:

We wanted travelers to be excited to support small businesses and book a stay at a local inn, so we provided a platform that has an incentive of “hidden gems” or spots near the destination where travelers could fully immerse themselves in the culture and feel like a local. These are places that a tourist would not know of otherwise!

I knew the logo of Hidden Gems had to be as unique as the platform itself. I added a playful gem of a "G" to show a sense of mystery and excitement! 

Style Guide:

Poppins, a sans serif typeface, was chosen as the main font because it's clean and easy to read. The color purple was used because it resembles mystery and fun. A few of the main elements were a calendar, a map, and a horizontal scrolling image group. We wanted this mobile website to be very visual as travelers like to see what they'll be staying in and activities they'll be able to do once there.

The star review/ratings were an important detail of displaying the local inns and bed and breakfasts to show these listings are vetted to an extent. This concern came up in user testing as a lingering question -- travelers want to be sure they're booking a stay at a safe and well-respected place.

We ended up adding the location of the inn, number of guests, and an interactive map showing where the local gems are in relation to the inn in our design iterations from user testing. It's amazing how little tiny and obvious details can be overlooked while rapid prototyping! Attention to detail is a must when doing these design competitions.

The platform would prompt a user to sign up/sign in if they are trying to create a listing. So, in order to create a listing, you have to have an account with Hidden Gems.

High-fidelity Prototype

Closing Remarks

It was a learning experience to work with other disciplines. As designers, we had to explain our process to the developers and data scientists and really push for our ideas and explain our design decisions thoroughly. I had the opportunity to lead a meeting as the only UX designer present, and I found that my confidence in our process and handing off of the high-fidelity wireframes exceeded my expectations! I was able to answer questions from the developers with certainty. This competition was scary, a bit stressful, but overall, exciting and provided a vessel for growth!