& Markit

& Markit

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.

Scott Laserow


User Researcher
UX/UI Designer


4 Weeks




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.


It can be stressful, overwhelming, and time-consuming to plan a personal trip. Especially for international students who speak English as a second language. Under an intense academic workload, they may have less time to choose their own appropriate travel plans due to their busy schedule. Many non-native speakers also face language and cultural barriers when they travel abroad. Sometimes they misunderstand people and are afraid to talk with them. It is also difficult to select a trusted travel partner when traveling in a group.

Project Goals

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

2. Gous features an accessible communication AI Chatbot, providing instant answers to inquests anytime, anywhere, ensuring a seamless travel experience.
3. Connect and automatically match students with their suitable partners, ensuring not only convenience but also enhancing the safety and comfort of their journeys.

Design Thinking Process

When starting on a project, I usually stick to a routine/design process that makes my designs as consistent as possible. No matter what kind of project it is, I stick to these golden 5 steps:

Stage 1: Discover

Secondary Research

My first step was to conduct some secondary research on international students studying in the United States. Over 1 million international students study in the United States, according to the report. Chinese, Indian, and South Korean students are among the largest sources of international students. I also found out Traveling has become a popular way and they generally resemble international tourists, typically travel for three to five nights and favour getting away with friends 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 help me identify my potential users and their level of understanding of the technology, their pain points & frustrations, and their needs and wants. It gave me metrics about their travel choices, how they plan their travel, what they consider on a trip, and what they would like to see in a service like Gous.

User Interviews

I conducted user interviews with 8 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, how they plan their travel and local trips, how they determine which destinations to travel to, and what inspires them to choose a destination.

Stage 2: 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 placed similar users into one group and created two unique user personas to summarize their goals, needs, and frustrations regarding travel.

Stage 3: Ideate

Card Sorting

I organized my observations and categorized them using card sorting based on data from in-person interviews, surveys, and user reviews. Furthermore, I identified various touch-points by intent and task including aspects such as emotions and expectations.

User Flow

Since Gous is an artificial intelligence and social app, the most important user flow is for a user to connect with their commonly used tasks and find their best travel plans using artificial intelligence.

Stage 4: 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

I started by looking for logos related to artificial intelligence, the letter G, and travel agencies. After compiling my logo research, I concluded that an abstracted goose logo mark with a rounded GOUS type would fit the brand perfectly. In terms of color selection, I combine cool green colors with warm orange colors, so that users can experience happiness and love in travel, and also the convenience and modernity brought by technology.

Design System and Components

Since the audience for this app is college-age Chinese students who study in America, I identified the branding tone as friendly, loving, happy, free, and fresh. I wanted the design to look and feel both modern and familiar. Because of this, I decided to use line elements. Taking inspiration from my mood board, I created a design system to use as a visual guide collection with all the components and UI patterns used on the app.

Interface Design

Following the framework established in the wireframes & hi-fi mockups, I created polished design mockups each with proper alignment. size, color, and suitable imagery. I user-tested user preferences to base my design decisions around.

Stage 5: Test

Usability Testing

During the pandemic, I conducted two rounds of online user testing for my Gous. The feedback from target users helped me identify and fix some usability issues.
User feedback on my travel package card design revealed two key areas for improvement:
1. The small avatar icon does not communicate the number of seats left for the group and instead conveys that it is an anonymous avatar.
2. The text is too small to read, and the request button does not clearly indicate that the user should 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.