The national parks have much to offer and they attract 330 million visitors each year. We saw the potential in enhancing the experience of these visitors by helping them plan their visits in a way that is not only filled with fun and adventure but also ends up giving them exposure to the vast natural and cultural heritage of America. Considering NPS being a single source of information for all the national parks, we envisioned an NPS app that contains information about all parks and also allows visitors to navigate through content easily. This ease of navigation is made possible by Sam, the virtual assistant.
UI and UX of the mobile app
Sam is a virtual assistant for the national parks services who helps tourists find everything that NPS has to offer. Sam helps tourists plan trips by guiding them with various tasks such as choosing a park, planning activities, collaborating to prepare for the trip, reserving campgrounds, purchasing park passes, etc.
"Hey Sam, I'm planning to take my family camping this April. Can you suggest a park within a 4-hour drive from my place?"
Sam suggests parks based on user’s interests and preferences of the entire group,
"Hey Sam, can you help me make a campsite reservation at Bryce Canyon for 6 people?"
Sam helps the user by pulling up available reservations.
Integration with Apple Pay makes it easy for the user to make reservations
"Hey Sam, can you suggest some kid-friendly hikes for my brother's kids??"
Sam tailors the activities based on the group’s preferences. Users can ask Sam to mark activities as a favorite for the in-park experiences.
"Hey Sam, there seems to be a roadblock because of a rockslide!"
Sam collects information about the roadblock and notifies it to the park rangers.
"Hey Sam, we had a great time camping! I would definitely rate my experience 5 stars"
Sam collects reviews and feedback for a better experience in the future
We wanted to integrate Sam across multiple digital platforms such as smart watch, mobile and desktop in a way that was more contextual to various scenarios. For example, smartwatches have great GPS and health data tracking abilities. Therefore, it made more sense to leverage smartwatch features for the in-park experience. On the other hand, we visualized the mobile application as a digital home-base: the one place to go to for all NPS related information.
The National Park Service has a set of brand guidelines that govern their identity across touch-points, including printed publications, maps, and brochures; signage, waysides, and environmental graphics at parks and monuments; exhibits; and digital products like websites and apps.
Our goal was to use the virtual assistant to make the NPS brand a bit more contemporary in the digital space, without pushing it so far that it did not look or feel like the organization.
After doing our research, our next step was to choose keywords to describe our NPS virtual assistant. We thought about the persona of a park ranger for this exercise. Our list of keywords for this phase included:
In order to determine the final states for our virtual assistant, we needed to select a scenario and draft a conversation narrative. We agreed to focus on the scenario involving a parent planning a family camping trip to a national park because it allowed us to discuss many aspects of the NPS experience, including selecting a park to visit, choosing and booking a campsite, and discussing park activities for a family with kids.
© 2021 Anuprita Ranade