Echo Park Embark

A mobile app designed to assist budget-conscious people in discovering and crafting new experiences, all while saving money and immersing themselves in Echo Park.
Echo Park Embark High-Fidelity Screens.
View Prototype
User Research
UI/UX Design
Graphic Design
Fall 2023
16 Weeks
project team
Isabel Bautista
Arthur Jensen
Lois Kim
Sammy Schreier
Project Brief
We were tasked with creating an interactive system that solves a transportation and mobility issue in Los Angeles. Our project focuses on Los Angeles locals and new visitors traveling Echo Park.
Echo Park is a hidden oasis in the heart of the bustling city, but there are many Los Angeles residents and visitors that are unfamiliar with this area. Some of these visitors include low-income households that face economic challenges, hindering their ability to engage in affordable leisurely activities. There’s also a misconception people have about Echo Park caused by gentrification, creating a barrier for people exploring.
Our findings have uncovered several challenges. There is a lack of awareness about the existence of Echo Park, financial constraints that prevent individuals from indulging in additional excursions or experiences, and the unfamiliarity of the area contributes to a sense of insecurity. People need a way to be connected to Echo Park and utilize all that the area has to offer.
We sought to create a user-friendly interactive system that gives Los Angeles locals and visitors a delightful experience in Echo Park; helping them plan, explore and discover things to do in alignment with their budgetary needs.
Research Findings
Gentrification & misconceptions
Echo Park is a neighborhood in Los Angeles that has faced gentrification, with many underrepresented communities and businesses moving out. There are many common misconceptions about Echo Park fueled by gentrification, creating a barrier for people to comfortably explore.
“I argue that the remodeling of Echo Park Lake along with the implementation of the Glendale Corridor Gang Injunction prioritize spaces of pleasure for white bodies at the expense of Latinx communities.” (Soriano 2019)
“I argue that the remodeling of Echo Park Lake along with the implementation of the Glendale Corridor Gang Injunction prioritize spaces of pleasure for white bodies at the expense of Latinx communities.” (Springer Link 2023)
Low-income households
We’ve discovered that low-income households face economic challenges that hinder their ability to engage in affordable leisurely activities. Public transportation is the main method of travel for low-income households.
“LA Metro riders are almost four times as likely as LA County residents to come from households with incomes under $15,000 per year (44–12%) and only one-third as likely to come from households with incomes over $100,000 (11–30%).” (Springer Link 2023)
“75% of expenditures for families goes to basic necessities.” (Econofact 2021).
Many people in Los Angeles are unfamiliar with Echo Park. People are unaware of this lush green space that is perfect for leisure, social interaction, and community building.
“There were parts of town [I] had never been to at all, including Echo Park.” (Scott Listfield)
How might we provide budget-conscious people methods to prepare a fun, customizable trip to and around Echo Park?
Meet Julia Hernandez
After identifying some key issues related to Echo Park, we progressed by creating a user persona to help guide us throughout the design process. Meet Julia, a single mom of two who has a difficult time finding fun things to do with her kids away from home. She relies on public transportation which limits her ability to travel across long distances across Los Angeles. Despite this she wants to take her kids out and have a good time without worrying about the amount of money she spends.

Julia informed the team on what types of issues and obstacles she'd be facing. One thing we realized right away is Julia's protective nature over her kids. This showed us tat our digital product needed to provide a sense of comfort and familiarity in order to achieve Julia's trust.
Image of User Persona.
Ideation Phase
Using our research, user persona, user journey map and our how might we statement, the group went on to ideate different solutions to the issues. The team brainstormed to come up with three potential concepts: Interactive Audio Map, Immerse with Echo and Plan Like a Local.
interactive audio map
Interactive Audio Assistant: Communicating with the interactive audio assistant directs the commuter to their desired location safely and efficiently with the best recommended route.
Recommends based on Location: Recommends the most popular and top rated places offered depending on  what the commuter is looking for.
Route based on Modes of Transportation: Accommodates to whichever mode of transportation the commuter is relying on and gives them the best route.
immerse with echo
Educational Gems: Provide educational content and stories about the neighborhood to stimulate the commuter on their journey.
Echo Ambiance: Mentally transports a person as they are provided with sounds that mimic those coming from Echo Park.
Recreational Events: Recognizes family-friendly events held in Echo Park such as the Swan Boats and Farmers Market.
Scrapbook Generator: Provides a collection of information based on activities, locations visited, and engagement with the space.
Plan Like a local
Personalized Itinerary Builder: Allow users to create a personalized itinerary builder based on their preferences, budget, and travel duration. 
Safety Hub: A tool that provides safety tips and knowledge about safe access points for transportation.
Local Experience Recommendations: A space to suggest local events, hidden gems, and unique experiences.
Image of Whiteboard Ideation.
Narrowing Down
After pitching our concepts to the rest of the class, we've uncovered common questions, concerns and interests. The group decided to do a whiteboard session to further develop a concept. We compared our different features using the "I like..., I wish..., I wonder..." framework. Along with helping us pin-point successful ideas, this strategy helped us identify flaws within our design thinking.

We decided that pursuing a mix of "Plan Like a Local" and "Immerse with Echo" since both ideas were the most popular among our choices. These features would address the unfamiliarity and discomfort one may feel while commuting to Echo Park. We also sought to incorporate features that directly indicate the prices of things to do in Echo Park. We also wanted to ensure that the user have the ability to plan their routes since commuting in Los Angeles can take an average more time than in other cities. Planning and preparing is essential when commuting over a long-distance, so our users need the ability to visualize their routes as well as having step by step directions on how to get there.
Sketches of Wireframes.
Low & Mid-Fidelity Wireframes
For our low and mid-fidelity screens, the team broke down the different functions of the mobile app into three categories: "My Itineraries," "Explore" and "Map." Within the "My Itineraries" section, users would have the ability to save and create itineraries based the cards they choose to save. Within the "Explore" section, users have the ability to scroll through many cards based on food, activities and events. Within the "Map" section, users would have the ability to navigate their itineraries using step by step directions that would also a humanistic audio feature.
Image of Low-Fidelity Wireframes.
User Testing Insights
Based on the feedback, the team had to pivot some of our designs. First, many people pointed out that it is unnecessary to create a whole new navigation system. Instead, they advised us to use Google Maps API. We've also received feedback on how it is not practical to have an audio guide if Julia is with her two kids on public transport. Julia would have a hard time focusing on the audio guide. Next, we received feedback that the look and feel of our designs were detached from Echo Park. We needed bring in more of Echo Park's personality. Furthermore, many people wanted to see how our app could really cater to people on a budget. An idea to bring in deals and coupons was noted.
Since Echo Park is historical, creative and artistic place in Los Angeles, we wanted to bring in some more elements to really emulate the neighborhood. We gathered inspiration from the shops, stores and culture of Echo Park to create a more vibrant brand look.
Image of Brand Style Guide.
Final Screens
Below are the final screens for Echo Park Embark. Using the feedback we received, we incorporated a deals section, clear onboarding, personalization aspects such as filters and a ready-made itinerary, more information for the businesses, a cohesive look, and an interactive map section to replace the previous navigation section.
Image of Echo Park Embark Final Screens.
This was such a rewarding project because it really expanded my knowledge on UI/UX Design. I thought that the whole process was exciting, beginning to end. I enjoyed discussing ideas with my teammates and brainstorming different solutions to our app. Possible next steps include incorporating a budgeting tool to calculate expenditures, incorporating a navigation feature to assist public transit users, and providing additional information relating to personal safety. Areas of improvement include strengthening communication, project management and doing more research on implementation techniques.

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