How might we simplify the tourist visa application process?

Trotter is a website that automates the process of applying for tourist visas. It translates, compiles, submits and tracks tourist visa applications.

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PAINPOINTS

Many relate vacations to fun and relaxation. However, there is a pain point that most vacation planners have to overcome, and that is the tourist visa application process. The process is unstandardized, time consuming, and inconvenient. In fact, it often takes away the control that people have from their own vacations. As avid travelers, team mate Julian Gonzalez and wondered: Why should planning a relaxing vacation be preceded by the headache that is the visa application process?

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Painpoint: A typical tourist visa application requires applicants to gather a lot of documents, often in hard copy.

Painpoint: A typical tourist visa application requires applicants to gather a lot of documents, often in hard copy.

 

Research and Understanding

To learn more about the painpoints others have, we interviewed people who have had to deal with embassy visa applications.

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Research: It seems like the visa application system is designed to dissuade tourists. So, we set out to try to democratize the tourist visa application process.

Research: It seems like the visa application system is designed to dissuade tourists. So, we set out to try to democratize the tourist visa application process.

 

 Sketching and Mockups

We began working on a website that would make the collection and uploading of each documents as easy as possible. This system brings together existing technologies and services to create a friendly, easy to understand system that lets the user upload and send all documents to the embassy directly. Below is the simple breakdown of the document gathering process and the technology that can be used to achieve it. We conceptualized the process of gathering the documents and uploading them with a few principles: convenience, simplicity and friendliness of the system.

We propose a mashup of technology that is currently being used in different industries to be used for the tourist visa application system. Our research showed that the following existing technologies need to be incorporated into Trotter to automate the system:

  • Digital ID Scanners to automatically authorize and validate photos of documents taken on Trotter
  • Photo applications such as Passport Photo mobile application to shoot, edit, and resize passport photos automatically on Trotter
  • University 'letter of recommendation' systems that automatically send templates and information request to third parties
  • Language translation software to help translate official application forms for the visa application process

 

 

Conceptualizing the Trotter Journey

Our next big challenge was to develop trust in a website that asks you to upload important documents. Our solution was to leverage the trust that people put into other travel websites. For example, Expedia.com.

The answer: A Trotter widget

 

A widget allows us to put Trotter's presence on a trusted travel website, while ensuring the presence is still useful. Trotter enters the travel planning thought process at the most useful point - when the planner is looking at online bookings for flights/hotels.

 

 

Design and Prototype

The prototype below goes through a typical vacationer's planning phase. Trotter intercepts this phase at the most impactful point- when the planner is searching for flight tickets for his vacation. A Trotter widget will appear on the Expedia.com search result page where the planner can check if he or she needs a visa to travel to the destination. Should the planner chose to start the visa process, he or she will be redirected to the Trotter website. 

 

This example shows the Trotter widget on Expedia.com when a planner could be looking up flight tickets. Trotter's widget can also appear on other related websites such as hotel booking websites, car rental websites, international drivers license websites, etc. 

 

In addition to the website, we also worked on developing a short promo animation to illustrate the capabilities and functionality of Trotter in a playful way.

What I learned

 

  • Techniques for design research through interviewing: writing discussion guides, prompting for information, following up with participants
  • Breaking down a complex system into its smaller parts, and simplifying each part
  • Designing easy to navigate interfaces
  • Prototyping using Marvel
  • Storyboarding for animations
  • Animating in Adobe AfterEffects