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A Platform


ZALA is a local content service for travel and leisure businesses. The company builds customized mobile, web and TV applications that connect customers to a city's best restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

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A Platform


ZALA is a local content service for travel and leisure businesses. The company builds customized mobile, web and TV applications that connect customers to a city's best restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

As founder and creative director of ZALA, my role is to develop a user experience emphasizing the power of personal choice -- because when people make their own decisions about how to spend their free time and money, they are more likely to take action. After 2+ years exploring this concept from numerous and diverse directions, I am still driven to develop superior tools to engage and educate people about what their cities have to offer.

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Research


The study of choice theory and researching the evolution of travel recommendation engines helped formulate the core concepts for ZALA.

Research


The study of choice theory and researching the evolution of travel recommendation engines helped formulate the core concepts for ZALA.

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Team ZALA began to develop the platform by learning the mechanics of how people make decisions -- we studied Professor Richard Thaler's work on choice theory, statistics on multi-media engagement and ran our own tests on consumer behavior. 

Next, we looked at the evolution of travel advice beginning from word-of-mouth recommendations -> to travel agencies -> to guide books -> to digital platforms. Our goal was to identify the working elements of previous systems as well as find the flaws that each version shared. Each recommendation system focused on justifying the value of its recommendations, however, each version ignored the unique needs and situations of the individual.

The research process was lengthy, but we felt strongly that once we understood the foundations and problems of the current recommendation engines, we could successfully build our own.

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Synthesize


We organized our thoughts into the following guiding principals -- personal taste governs all decisions, limited options make it easier to choose, and rich content makes viewers more comfortable about going somewhere they've never been. 

Synthesize


We organized our thoughts into the following guiding principals -- personal taste governs all decisions, limited options make it easier to choose, and rich content makes viewers more comfortable about going somewhere they've never been. 

Once it became clear that the strongest influence on decision-making was personal taste, my next challenge was working with the marketing team to articulate ZALA's values in simple language -- to create messaging that supported each element of ZALA design. We landed on five truths to help direct our process: 

Truth #1: Our opinions and tastes help define who we are. ZALA helps us choose activities specific to our personal situations rather than from large directories or impersonal experts. 

Truth #2: We all fear that our plans won't turn out as good as we hope. ZALA allows us to make plans based on what we like, not what recommendations, ratings or comments tell us to do. 

Truth #3: The bigger the occasion, the bigger expectation. A first person glimpse of a specific destination makes us feel confident about our decision to go there. 

Truth #4: Happiness is when our experience fulfills our expectations. ZALA give us the ability to collect our valuable experiences and share discoveries. 

Truth #5: We all need a tool that encourages us to embrace our personal taste. ZALA, because taste is personal.

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Brainstorm


"Taste is Personal" became the core idea of the ZALA platform. This simple declaration was the lens we used when creating all elements ZALA.

Brainstorm


"Taste is Personal" became the core idea of the ZALA platform. This simple declaration was the lens we used when creating all elements ZALA.

The core purpose of ZALA is to engage customers and help them make quick decisions that are tailor-made to their specific situations. Motivated by these intentions, we decided to create a robust library of location-specific content -- short videos, photos and researched details. Additionally, we wanted to create a platform that allowed users to interact with the content library -- to organize and share their plans and ultimately, to take action.

Our goal was to create a mobile and desktop version of the platform, content for 800-900 San Francisco venues, a promotional microsite, an investor presentation and a few software demonstration videos. This seemed like a big undertaking, but we knew we had the structure and thought governance to help us achieve our desired results.

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Prototype


After nearly a year of mental gymnastics, it was time to get to work producing videos and photos; creating wireframes for the desktop and mobile experiences; and building the foundation for the database and 3rd party integrations. 

Prototype


After nearly a year of mental gymnastics, it was time to get to work producing videos and photos; creating wireframes for the desktop and mobile experiences; and building the foundation for the database and 3rd party integrations. 

Iteration is an exciting time when all of the research and analysis comes to fruition. We went through dozens of desktop and mobile iterations before we were able to settle on a version that collectively represented our core values. Once we had a working UI, we began to develop iOS and Android versions, created an investor presentation, sales materials, a micro-site and software demonstration videos.  

The content library took over a year to build and is still growing. To date we've successfully shot and edited nearly 250 short films and taken more than 4000 photographs covering almost 900 venues in San Francisco.

PHOTOS

VIDEOS

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Implement


With our shiny new beta in hand, we launched a closed network version of ZALA, began to compile user feedback and immediately started to refine the platform.

Implement


With our shiny new beta in hand, we launched a closed network version of ZALA, began to compile user feedback and immediately started to refine the platform.

ZALA continues to be a work in progress. We are currently in talks with potential partners in San Francisco and Tokyo. Look for a white label release sometime towards the end of 2016. 

MOBILE DESIGN

 

DESKTOP DESIGN

 

SOFTWARE DEMONSTRATION

 

MICRO-SITE

INVESTOR PRESENTATION