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Nov. - Dec. 2023, 4 weeks


Advisor: Theresa Kratschmer


Looking for an exciting way to travel a new city? Introducing Cartoline, a conceptual site guide of Florence, Italy dedicated to the city's "hidden gems," or destinations considered less touristy and hard to discover. Locations are carefully chosen and recommended by both locals and study abroad students alike!


Cartoline combines the traditional travel guide experience with visually captivating postcard imagery to bring a treasure hunt experience to life. As you visit each location or discover a new gem, you can collect virtual Cartoline (Italian for postcards) and stamps to commemorate your visits.

The app has both "Destinations" and "Bonus Quests"; the first are locations mappec for you, and the latter are hidden locations that you need to scavenge around the city for! The map allows you to view these points, and you can also plot your bonus findings.  

XOXO, Postcards from Florence ❤



Rachel Tian


Process Work


In Summer 2022, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Florence, Italy for 2 months. As all tourists do, I searched up "popular things to do in Florence," and all the websites produced relatively similar llists of churches and museums to visit. I spent the next week crossing everything off my list, until I finally completed the majority. I thought to myself, "Well, now what?" 

As a result, my friends and I did some digging. Through countless Youtube channel searches, awkward barista conversations, and small talk at the train station, we compiled a list of unique, or less-touristy places to visit and activities to do. If only I had an app at the time to recommend me these locations to save some time...

02  |  PROPOSAL 

Why will a user seek out the app?
Users will use this app to find places to visit/things to do in Florence other than the main tourist attractions. Florence is often known for being a touristy city, but there is a lot of historical significance and traditional that isn’t as recognized. It's time to recognize the hidden gems around the city!

What are they going to learn, gain, or experience by using it?
Not only can users have fun checking off hidden locations from their Florentine bucket list, but they can see what other people who visit Florence are doing, and perhaps even create a game out of the app. It's like Tripadvisor, but a little more concise and easy to navigate! 

What will make my app unique?

There will be a collectable element to my site map. While you travel, there are many opportunities to win points/gems by completing a task and visiting different locations. It will be advertised as a fun challenge in addition to a helpful guide.


I began with a general survey of items that should be featured on a travel app. Friends' and classmates' opinions, along with online research, were compiled together to formulate my first drafts. 

Features to consider:

Map integration, photo galleries, trip details, routes, costs, forums, lists, reviews, favorited items, friends, chats, profiles, built-in camera, etc. 

I experimented with different ways to display this information through some very rough sketches and content mapping.  


I developed both low-fi and hi-fi wireframes to showcase a single user journey throughout the app. In these iterations, I focused on ways to display a gallery on the home screen to show the different locations to visit, as well as the interior page of a location. I experimented with a "write a review" feature, as well as the ability to add the location to a list. The "list" feature was ultimately removed, as I felt that I had too little content for a user to formulate multiple personalized lists, and it may get too complicated. In a later iteration, I decided to test out a "share" button to create more interactivity within the app. 


Chat Function: 

After performing a usability study, my subjects both agreed that having a chat function is a little confusing in the app. What would you be chatting about? Would it work like iMessage? This led me to take out the chat feature, but instead implement a forum or twitter-inspired outlet where people could just post casual achievements.


Users also shared that they believe it would be interesting to see a more “personal” take on the app. This relates back to the main proposal for my app, which I had lost the goal a bit along the way. I wanted a feature that could encourage a competitive or collectable nature for users, where people felt that they needed to go back to my app to complete something. Although you could favorite locations, it was enough to entice a user to keep moving forward with the journey. One suggested implementing a section under “profile” where you can document your travels, or even replacing the chat function with this new section called “journal”. Others suggested that, since I focused on "hidden gems," you could collect some sort of points or gems along the way and play it like treasure hunt. 


Postcards and Stamps:

I thought about different ways to represent the "collection" feature. I remembered that, while I was abroad, I loved collected various postcards of Italy from local artist shops, which make lovely souvenirs. Why not translate it into a digital form?

I developed a visual language that centered around the idea of postcards, with each location correlating with a stamp on the home page gallery. However, after visiting the destination, you can collect the entire virtual postcard, which communicates the idea of completing the journey! These postcards can then be saved to the profile section, and you can view your collection at any time. 

Additionally, I research color palettes fitting for the app. I discovered that red and white are popular choices for architecture, and I wanted to translate that to my project. I initially used a deeper red, but later revised it to be rustier with a hint of orange, and I stuck with a cream to give the visual a more vintage feel. 


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