& Gous

& Gous

An AI-powered travel application, Gous offers a seamless solution for planning and experiencing personalized trips. Specifically for international students who studying in the USA, Gous serves not only as a comprehensive trip planner but also as a platform for fostering meaningful connections.

Abby Guido


Visual + UX Designer


14 Weeks


Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop


A recent increase in computing power, data processing, and algorithm design has enabled Artificial Intelligence (AI). In particular, the tourism industry gains a lot from AI's capabilities. Using this technology, travelers can create personalized itineraries, increase the efficiency of traditional travel agents, recommend tailored services based on past reservations and travel habits, ensure secure payment processes, and reduce fraud risks.


Planning a personal trip for international students who speak English as a second language can be stressful, overwhelming, and time-consuming. Due to their busy schedules, they may not have time to select their own appropriate travel plans. Many international students also face language and cultural barriers when they study abroad. Sometimes they misunderstand people and are afraid to talk with them. Selecting a trusted travel partner when traveling in a group is also difficult.

Project Goals

1. Simplify the process of planning and booking personalized trips for international students by integrating cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence technology.

2. Provide an accessible communication AI Chatbot, offering instant answers to inquests anytime, anywhere, ensuring a seamless travel experience.
3. Connect students with their suitable partners based on their hobbies and identities to ensure their safety and comfort during the trip. 

Design Thinking Process

When starting on a project, I usually stick to these golden 5 steps:

{ Discover }

{ Discover }

Secondary Research

First, literature review showed over 1 million international students studying in the United States. And Chinese, Indian, and South Korean students are among the largest sources of international students. I also found out traveling with friends has become a popular way for them to get away from busy school work during mid-semester breaks. 

Competitive Analysis

Due to the unique model and artificial intelligence focus of Gous, the competition has two stages. For multi-day tours, there are several specialty OTAs, some of whom transitioned from traditional offline travel agencies. However, their model is different. OTAs, such as Trodly and Kayak, are incentivised to hide the brand name of suppliers and encourage users to book with their small group of preferred tour operators. Users can quickly find the best travel solutions with Gous' meta-search model, which allows them to make decisions in a short amount of time. Our priority is the user experience.

User Survey

Then I created a survey (Around 40 responses) to give me metrics about their travel choices, how they plan their travel and local trips, how they determine which destinations to travel to, and what inspire them to choose a destination.

User Interviews

I conducted user interviews with 16 international students from Temple, Drexel, and the University of Pennsylvania, who were mostly busy with schoolwork and had no time to plan trips for spring break. Specifically, it helps me identify those students' level of understanding of technology, pain points, frustrations, and needs.

{ Define }

{ Define }

Empathy Map

I created this Empathy Map by meticulously synthesizing outcomes from user interviews, focusing on the specific experiences, emotions, thoughts, and actions of travel booking app users, particularly international students, to identify their unique needs and challenges.

User Persona

I grouped similar users together and developed two distinct user personas, each representing their collective goals, needs, and frustrations related to travel experiences. 

{ Ideate }

{ Ideate }

Card Sorting

I organized and categorized user data collected from in-person interviews, surveys, and reviews by using card sorting. During this process, data was grouped by users' needs and activities, as well as emotional and psychological factors. 

User Flow

Moreover, given that Gous is an artificial intelligence and social networking app, an important aspect of the user flow was to allow users to link their social media accounts and leverage artificial intelligence to discover their ideal travel plans.

{ Design }

{ Design }

Paper Wireframe

I drew my first wireframe on paper to visually experiment based on the information I conducted while user testing. A sample group of users tried multiple flows that I had drawn. Based on this testing, the early designs could change and develop quickly in a low-risk environment.

Digital Wireframe

Before designing this app, I began the ideation process of wire-framing by drawing out the main screens by sketching. My goal was to provide a structure and design that would meet the needs of users while keeping the objectives of the Gous.

Logo development

Design System and Components

Since this app is specifically designed for college-age international students in America, I established a branding tone that is friendly, loving, happy, and fresh. Based on my mood board, I created a design system that contained all the components and UI patterns used in the application. 

Hi-Fi Mockups Design

{ Test }

{ Test }

Usability Testing

During the pandemic, I conducted two rounds of online user testing for Gous. The feedbacks from Gous' target users helped me identify and fix some usability issues. 
User feedbacks on my travel package card design highlighted two primary areas for improvement: 

1. The avatar icon was found misleading. Instead of conveying the number of available seats left for the group, it was perceived as representing an anonymous avatar. 
2. The text size was too small for comfortable reading. The design of the request button was not intuitive, failing to imply user to click on the icon.


This is my first time designing and writing a UX case study and it was a fantastic experience. I learned about the core principles of Human-computer interaction (HCI), such as user-centered design theories and usability testing. This experience gave me a firsthand look at the HCI design process and helped me to develop my skills in user research, prototyping, and wireframes.

1. By enhancing personalization, improving decision-making processes, and streamlining interactions, the AI components have demonstrated significant potential to elevate user experience, setting a new benchmark for technological integration in UX design.

2. Ongoing user testing has been identified as a critical factor in the success of the Gous program. Continuously involving users at every stage of development ensures that the app remains closely aligned with their evolving needs and preferences.