The Dance of Digital Titans (A division to defend or oppose the remote work)

Imagine a realm where epic battles of ambition and ideas unfold mirroring the civil war known as the Dance of Dragons, as written in George R.R. Martin's book, "Fire and Blood,” which recently formed part of the TV series House of Dragons on HBO MAX. This titanic clash of loyalty and innovation resurfaces in our modern times of remote work. Much like the Targaryen Dynasty's struggle for supremacy, the digital landscape is witnessing its own riveting spectacle – the Dance of Digital Titans, or in layman’s terms..the Dance of Digital Tech Professionals.

Who will triumph: The Greens Vs. The Blacks

The Greens - I am a supporter of the 9-5 office rat race

the greens opposing remote work

The Blacks - I am a defender of high quality of life and remote work

the blacks support remote work

Note: For those who have not seen House of Dragon or read the books, I promise this story will still make sense. 

The inception of the Dance in Digital Tech remains somewhat of a mystery to me but perhaps its arrival came when the 2020 global pandemic took the world by storm. As our world braced itself for the unknown, an unexpected truth emerged, casting a spotlight on the possibilities of work: the undeniable triumph of remote work on both business and individual scales.

We could indeed thrive while working remotely!

No one knew how long this different world would last, but we adapted. As the curtain rose on this unprecedented act, a collective of stories unfolded - tales of resilience, innovation, and a drive to succeed despite the odds.

Traditional norms shattered like glass, as even the biggest advocates of in-person work were forced to reevaluate their perspectives. Businesses were faced with either going remote or letting their business die. This meant making way for the birth of new businesses, and ideas and the blossoming of remote work culture.  In the midst of this transformation, a remarkable discovery was made, a precious jewel in the rough: the elusive work-life balance.

For many, this newfound equilibrium was an uncharted territory, a revelation that resonated deeply. Imagine escaping the daily grind of a lengthy 3-hour commute, relishing the joy of being present with loved ones, and savouring the luxury of focusing on well-being. From cooking wholesome meals to enjoying the moment in unhurried lunches, the possibilities were as limitless as they were liberating.

The benefits extended beyond the personal realm, rippling through the fabric of society. Transportation costs dwindled, dining out took a backseat, and the environment rejoiced in the decreased carbon footprint. The chorus of advantages was harmonious and far-reaching, painting a vivid portrait of a life unburdened by the constraints of convention.

As a new way of living evolved, the Dance in Digital Tech unfolded, it became a dance of liberation and we had to adapt. The very essence of work was reinvented, and a transformational journey began. Little did we know, this was only the beginning, setting the stage for a grand performance that would redefine the future of how we work and live.

“Ah, so this is what freedom could look like,” whispered many of us. 

But then something in the air changed. What changed? If everyone loved working remotely, why did the supporters of The Greens grow? (The Greens refers to people supporting a return to the office, to the 9-5, 5 days a week standard of working).

  • Big business leaders particularly those in tech started to speak up against remote work and started forcing their staff to come back or face losing their jobs like Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla did
  • Meta announced a change in policy for office-based workers to return to offices for at least 3-days a week 
  • Zoom, the company that grew to new heights and became synonymous with video chats also wanted staff who work within 50 miles of a company office, to come back two days per week according to Business Insider 

In a way, we could make some sense of why a “big boss” would want their staff to return to the office, but what is strange is that to the side of The Greens, many employees have joined to support. There are countless LinkedIn discussions happening about whether people should work remotely or come to the office.

We speculate that people insisting on returning to the office are trying to escape their home environment due to housemates, noise or kids or they don’t trust enough in their skills and discipline to do work outside of the office or want to be seen by their managers. 

The most frequent arguments to defend working from an office: 

  • Better productivity and ability to assess people’s performance 
  • There are concerns for younger and new employees not having access to meeting people, being onboarded & being trained 
  • Create team culture and build human connection in person 
  • Combat loneliness and improve cognitive performance 
  • Validation that a person has worked if they’ve come to the office 

The 9-5 work model needs to continue to evolve and adapt for remote work

Jumping back to the 19th century -   9 to 5 was created to prevent the exploitation of factory workers and since then that way of working has been kept, maintained, and preached in support of. I am sure it was a great thing during its time but those times have come and gone and now in the 21st century have changed with technological innovations, people’s livelihoods at stake and digital transformation (hello, AI). 

Make it make sense. 

2020 was a window of opportunity for change and evolution as humans craved more meaning in their personal and professional lives. As a professional creative nomad, I hope to be part of this change, and momentum and redefine the future of work as it stands today. In a way, I’ve taken it as a personal mission to educate and help people and businesses to understand the value of remote work.

Now let’s turn our attention to The Blacks (The Blacks referring to. - people supporting remote work). Why do we think people supporting working remotely are continuing to do so and strongly protecting their set-up:  

  • To preserve work-life balance 
  • Flexibility as a lifestyle choice and the power to be able to choose how they spend their time and where they get to live 
  • Control over health, happiness and well-being 
  • Increase in employee engagement which means higher retention & happier employees 
  • Saving cost on offices 
  • Higher productivity observed from State of Remote Work reported that 90% of people surveyed in 2020 felt higher levels of productivity when compared to an office 

Truthfully, The Blacks defend the future of work for the people and The Greens once they come to realisation but I can’t help wondering if the pullback towards the traditional 9-5 office model is underpinned by a complex interplay of physiological and social influences. We are so conditioned to conform and attached to our work identities that, for many, the daily commute and physical office space could serve as markers of our identity. 

But not all is lost. 

Many businesses are supporting The Blacks - Zapier, Airbnb, Toptal, Spotify, Slack, Buffer, and Coinbase to name a few in favour of flexibility, increased productivity, cost-savings, and maintaining work-life balance.

Is hybrid the answer? 

Now let’s look at The Turn Cloaks (which refers to people who switched from fully remote to support a hybrid model). We can’t argue that hybrid is here to stay with benefits like cost-efficiency, redefining collaboration and communication, maintaining work-life balance and so on. The allure of hybrid is promising but we’re not fully convinced either. 

Difficulties to transition to fully remote, corporate management that is unwilling or any other reason that it might be a new middle ground was found of hybrid working.

Hybrid does not stand for 4 days a week in the office! 

Traditional work models cannot meet employee and customer demands for smarter, frictionless experiences. Organizations need integrated, connected and secure solutions for modern work challenges, such as hybrid work environments.

The true meaning of a hybrid is an offspring of two things of different natures that inherit random, unplanned, uncontrolled qualities from each of its parents. It doesn’t have a set preset, it is a work of nature. 

Hybrid working is an adaptable way that serves as the middle ground for employees and employers and is something that is shaped on an individual basis depending on one’s role in the business they work with.

Many reports from studies are already coming out that hybrid working will be adopted by 75% of companies by 2025.

For businesses who want to go remote

In today’s competitive landscape, your organization will simply miss out on talented digital tech professionals by not offering remote work. And if you're adopting a hybrid model but not finding ways to integrate your remote staff in important business decisions, you are also bound to lose this dance. 

For employees who want to work remotely

Stand unwavering in your pursuit of remote work. Don’t stop challenging the status quo now. Do not simply “bend the knee” to go back to the old antiquated ways of working. Recall the days when the digital tech realm was in disarray and people were clearly unhappy, overwhelmed and unfulfilled. We were all shown a way forward to achieving more work-life balance and entering a new paradigm beyond work - what are we all so afraid of? 

The Dance is not ever yet, how do you think it will end? Which side would you be on? Share your thoughts on social media with #danceofdigitaltitans 


how to start a ux career

How I started a successful UX career without realising it

I was fascinated with the world of digital technologies since the day my parents bought my first computer. I was the age of 12 and my curiosity was endless. Every day I was discovering new things that you can do with a computer from watching movies, skyping with friends, and browsing the web to more advanced things like video editing, video effects, music production, and music composing. Yet I had never imagined that I would end up having a career in UX.

But, what is UX?

UX is shorthand for User Experience. It's a relatively new field that came about as a result of advances in technology and our understanding of how people interact with technology. UX designers are responsible for creating products and interfaces that are both usable and enjoyable for users. They take into account the user's needs, wants, and constraints when designing an interface or product. But that's not all.

UX has existed since the day humans started interacting with physical man-made objects it's just it wasn't science on its own. I remember reading a great book showcasing the core of UX which was called "The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman". From that book I remember, a simple example of how door handles are designed according to the perception of how a door opens contributes to great or bad UX. There are doors in the world where people expect them to do one thing, and the door opens in a completely different way. In these cases the door handle is serving as a subconscious signifier to tell your brain how the door is expected to function and when it doesn't work as expected - that's bad UX.

A career in UX can be extremely rewarding, both financially and personally, but it's not for everyone. A lot of great UX comes from designers who can feel higher levels of empathy, behavioural understanding, and general psychology of the target audiences that they are designing for. Of course, the theoretical part of UX can be learned through courses and online lessons but what needs to come from within is that special power of human understanding and being able to draw a mental journey on which a UX designer plans to take the users.

Taking my first steps into a UX career without realising it

When I was 15 I designed and developed a game based on an all-favourite sci-fi tv show. The game was a companion experience for the fans to be able to have an interactive experience with the show while they were watching it. It wasn't the only one on the market, though.

There was already another game that was offering a very similar experience and fans were playing it. What motivated me to create my version was the fact that every time I was suggesting ideas or giving feedback to the creators, they were shutting me down by saying:

"We know best what we are doing, we don't need someone's suggestions". 

This is what doomed their project and lost the fanbase's favour.

Little did I know, that my game will become extremely popular among the same fans who decided to leave my competitor.

In those times, community forums were a thing. After setting one up, tons of suggestions, feedback and critics about the game started coming in and I was determined not to make the same mistake that doomed the game of my competitor.

I was taking the time to respond to every email, feedback message or feature request. I was prioritizing the features, running votes to see which ones my players love the most and for upcoming versions planning to include in the roadmap the top 3 most voted feature requests. Without realising my players grew to 50,000 / month and they are willing to pay for my product, requesting frequent updates and talking about it on other forms, communities and platforms.

Without realising I had naturally dived into the foundation of creating great user experience for my players. Receiving all those positive comments and feedback was my soul food back then, and it is my soul food today. Building an experience from your heart and the people loving and using it is the most rewarding piece of the UX career.

My game is called AISNSim and today, it still gets downloads with 100-200 monthly players - 16 years since the project retired.

Evolving my UX career through the years

Realising at such a young age what I wanted to do when I grow up, gave me the focus and ability to prioritize what's important to know in life to constantly change, grow and improve my UX career. Every step I have taken has led to the evolution of my knowledge and skills, from finding mentors through being part of the UX community to moving to a city that is a tech hub for UX. Each bit taught me important lessons for my career growth.

Finding a mentor

When I first started, I didn't know much about the theoretical part of UX. Thankfully, the first Head of Design had great knowledge of UX and she was a natural. She became my mentor. She taught me everything I needed to know about the industry and shaped me as a UX designer.


Dobs Totev

Lead UX Designer & Founder of d.DOBS Creative


Getting involved with the community

There's a great community of UX professionals out there who are always willing to help each other out. Get involved in slack groups, attend meetups, and participate in groups and discussion boards. This has helped me learn from others, exchange experience and make connections within the industry.

Staying up to date with the industry

The world of UX is constantly changing and evolving. I constantly read articles, blog posts, and case studies about UX. follow leaders in the field on social media, and attend conferences and workshops. This helped me stay ahead of the curve and prepared me for whatever challenges come my way.

Tips I wish professionals in the field had shared with me

There are a few but most are things that one needs to experience for him/her self. It is what shapes one as a UX designer.

Here are the 5 tips I think every UX new starter should hear:

1. The field of UX is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to keep up with the industry and technologies. One can do it by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and taking online courses.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from more experienced professionals. There are many online communities and social media groups where you can find support and advice from other UXers.

3. When starting, it’s helpful to shadow or work with a more experienced designer to learn the ropes. There’s no substitute for real-world experience, so try to get as much hands-on experience as possible.

4. Be prepared to be patient and not rush things up. Take the team for proper research and validation of your ideas. The field of UX is competitive, and you need to make sure you are delivering the best for the needs of the project you are working on.

5. Don’t give up! It takes time and perseverance to build a successful career in UX, but it’s achievable if you’re passionate about the field and willing to work hard.

successful mobile app

What defines a successful mobile app design?

It's no secret that mobile apps are everywhere. Whether you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or just a casual app user, chances are you've seen firsthand the impact of mobile apps in the digital world. But what defines a successful mobile app design?

The different types of mobile app design

There are three types of mobile app design: native, web-based, and hybrid.


Native apps are those that are designed specifically for a certain type of mobile device. They are written in the language of that device’s operating system (OS), and they take advantage of the OS’s features and capabilities. Native apps usually provide the best user experience because they are designed specifically for a particular type of device and can take advantage of all its features. However, they can be more expensive to develop than other types of app design.


Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web-based apps. They are written in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, but they also include some platform-specific code that takes advantage of the specific features and capabilities of each type of device. Hybrid apps provide a good user experience because they combine the best aspects of both native and web-based app design

External Resource: Hire from the top 3% of professional app developers from Toptal


Web-based apps are designed for use on multiple devices, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. They are written in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, and they run on a web server. Web-based apps can be less expensive to develop than native apps because they only need to be written once in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. However, they may not provide as good a user experience as native apps because they don’t take advantage of the specific features and capabilities of each type of device.

External Resource: Hire from the top 3% of professional front-end developers

Defining success for a mobile app design

The success of a mobile app design can be defined in many ways. For some, it may simply be about creating an app that is easy to use and navigate. Others may focus on creating an app that is visually appealing and catches the user's attention. There are also those who focus on creating an app that is functional and meets the needs of the user.

No matter what your definition of success is for a mobile app design, there are certain elements that should be included in order to make your app successful. These elements include:

  • A clear purpose or goal for your app
  • A well-designed interface that is easy to use
  • Appealing visuals that catch the user's attention
  • Functionality that meets the needs of the user

At d.DOBS Creative can help you define your product and set you up for success.

Making the user experience positive

A good mobile app design is all about making the user experience positive. That means creating an intuitive interface that is easy to use and navigate. It also means having features that are designed to meet the needs of your target audience. When you focus on making the user experience positive, you will be well on your way to designing a successful mobile app.


Dobs Totev

Lead UX Designer & Founder of d.DOBS Creative


Creating an effective user interface

When it comes to creating an effective user interface for your mobile app, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you want to make sure that your app is easy to use and navigate. This means having a clean and intuitive design that users can easily understand.

Another important aspect of an effective user interface is making sure that your app is responsive. This means that it should work well on all devices, regardless of screen size or operating system. Your app should also load quickly and be free of any bugs or glitches.

Finally, you want to make sure that your user interface is visually appealing. This means using attractive visuals and graphics that will engage users and keep them coming back to your app.

By following these tips, you can create an effective user interface that will help ensure the success of your mobile app.

Example project: Soho House App

The importance of typography in mobile app design

The average person spends over four hours a day on their mobile phone, and even more, time looking at screens overall. That’s a lot of time spent looking at words, so it’s important that those words are legible and easy on the eyes.

Enter typography. The art and science of arranging type to make text readable, understandable, and visually appealing are essential to any good design, mobile or otherwise. But because we view screens differently than we do print material – often closer up and for shorter periods of time – typography for screen needs to be approached differently.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing with type for mobile:

  • Size Matters: When it comes to body copy, bigger is almost always better on mobile. Consider using a font size of 16px or above; anything smaller will be hard to read on a small screen.
  • Line Length Matters: Line length (or “measure”) is the width of a column of text. On mobile, line lengths should be shorter than they are in print; around 30-40 characters per line is ideal. This makes the text more readable and easier to scan.
  • Leading Matters: Leading is the vertical space between lines of text. On mobile, the leading should be slightly larger than it is in print; around 120% of the font size is a good rule of thumb. This extra space makes the text more legible and easier to read

Designing for different types of devices

Different types of mobile devices have different screen sizes, resolutions, and input methods. As a result, designing a successful mobile app requires taking these differences into account.

Screen size is one of the most important factors to consider when designing for mobile devices. Different devices have different screen sizes, and your app needs to be able to scale accordingly. Resolution is another important factor; you need to make sure that your app looks good on devices with different resolutions. Input methods are also important; on some devices, users can only input text via a virtual keyboard, while on others they may be able to use a physical keyboard or other input methods.

When designing your app, it's important to keep all of these factors in mind in order to create a successful design that will work well on all types of mobile devices.

Example project: Contiki

Hire a remote mobile app designer

There are a number of websites that specialize in connecting businesses with remote mobile app designers, such as Upwork, Toptal, and Guru. What's important is to build trust with the brand and the designer that you will work with.

There are a few key things to look for when hiring a remote mobile app designer:

  • Make sure that they have a strong portfolio of previous work. This will give you an idea of their style and skills.
  • Check their reviews and testimonials from past clients. This will give you an idea of their work ethic and how easy they are to work with.

At d.DOBS Creative we have that and more - we will support you throughout the entire process from planning to app delivery!

hard or soft cta ab testing

Hard or soft CTA would drive higher progression into a booking funnel?

hard or soft CTA increases conversion

Choosing between hard or soft CTA

In this ab test, we are trying to determine if a hard or a soft CTA would drive more people to progress along the booking funnel. Our hypothesis is that if we use a soft CTA labeled "Continue" more people will be willing to progress to the next stage of the booking process. We think that the Contiki customers are less likely to press on a "Book Trip" CTA at this stage as it is unclear if you will be asked to make a payment immediately after tapping on the button or what exactly is supposed to happen.


  • UK Market
  • 18-35 year-olds
  • 123k recorded sessions
  • 1.5 months of data

The objective of the AB test

To see which CTA label drives to more progression into the booking funnel and increases conversion.

As part of the test we also wanted to monitor the Bounce Rate from booking calendar pages, as well as the user exit rate. The idea is that a soft CTA would also improve the bounce and exit rates since people would be more curious to proceed/stay in the funnel instead of leaving it.

[yop_poll id="2"]

RELATED: With or without price display on a travel product eCommerce card would perform better?

Analyzing the results of the test

The winning version in this test is Version B. Even though both versions perform almost equally, the version with the soft CTA drives 1.7% more traffic into the booking funnel. Consequentially, the second version of the test has also lead to a 0.07% increase in the overall conversion rate.

Highlights of the soft CTA winner

Bounce Rate-2.3%
Exit Rate+1.4%
Returning UsersNo change
Users proceeding into the booking funnel+1.7%
Conversion Rate+0.07%

Although with the label change there is a small increase in the exit rate, we still consider it to be the winning version as it improves the overall booking flow performance.

What is it like working at TopTal as a freelancer and how to get set for success

TopTal is a community of freelance designers, developers, financial experts, product managers, and product owners. It houses the world's top 3% of best freelancers that companies and clients can contract with ease. I found the platform very randomly by searching on Google for remote working opportunities which lead me to apply for working at TopTal.

First impressions

I joined the network as a designer in early 2018 and the first thing I noticed was that the platform was very well organized. I had HR reaching out to me with my TopTal contract, the accounts department reaching out to help me set up my payment methods, people responsible for talent skills growth and learning reaching out to let me know of available TopTal sponsored courses. Everything was set up as if I was starting to work at one of the San Francisco-based tech companies.

Flexibility and independence while working at TopTal as a freelancer

When they approved my account, I ended up becoming part of the freelancer network and the marketplace. In it, clients can browse and choose who to work with based on their rates, years of experience, and strength of the portfolio.

The best part for me was that there was no commitment to start working until I felt that I am ready to pick up a new project and yet at the same time, being part of TopTal with an approved account did give me more credibility within the industry as I was still able to link to my public profile when needed.

Working at TopTal, as a freelancer, I am able to decide my hourly rate, how much I'd like to work, and at what times. The important thing for me was after committing to a project to stay focused and deliver as promised.

My first gig

In reality, I didn't start working through the platform until the COVID-19 pandemic started. With many businesses changing their times and strategy, some of my time was freed up. I had nothing else to fill my time with therefore a part-time gig sounded like a good idea to pass time and yet be productive.

I set myself as available for work on the TopTal platform and within few days, client managers started emailing me about potential interviews with clients and future gigs.

Yes, that's right! Even if you are part of the network, you get to do an interview with potential clients for both parties to see if there is a match of vision, design style, ideas, etc. As a freelancer, you can decide that a client was not a match for you or a client can decide that they would prefer a different freelancer, but in the end, throughout the whole process, everyone is very friendly and very professional. Even if you don't end up landing your first gig, there is another potential one that awaits in the platform.

Failing an interview is not the end

I landed my first project with TopTal on my third client interview. The first two were just not the right match. I had only part-time availability at the time and the length of the projects felt too long.

I've been working with that same client for almost a year on the same project to what initially was supposed to be a 3-6 month commitment and I have to say - I do enjoy it a lot.

TopTal handles all the legalities, all the paperwork, all the payments, and management. As a freelancer, I was able to only focus on design and building great digital experiences. I could easily say that

Working at TopTal has allowed me to take control over my work-life balance. It gave me the power of full flexibility and freedom.

Professionalism and really great people while working at TopTal

The people I've been working with from the network have always been very nice and very professional. I worked on a few projects with TopTal developers and everything has been fantastic. I didn't have to explain everything in detail, the developers were understanding everything at our first meeting. They took great ownership over their work as any senior person would do.

Is there a key to being successful?

I generally believe that if you are approved to work at TopTal, then you are already successful but at the same time, it is important to remember that it is still a marketplace. You still need to able to sell your services to TopTal clients and convince them why they should hire YOU at that rate and not hire someone else. Doing a few not-so-successful client interviews does actually help. You learn what clients are looking for and how they expect you to sell yourself.

ecommerce ab testing

With or without price display on a travel product eCommerce card would perform better?

ab test of ecommerce product card with or without product price

About this AB test

In this ab test, the element in question is a product card, displayed on the search results page while people are looking to purchase a travel product. There is a hypothesis that, if people are not seeing the price on this search card, they would be more likely to browse through more trips that might be of interest to them. After that they choose a product, they would be able to see the price inside the individual trip product page.


  • US Market
  • 18-35 year-olds
  • 80k people participated
  • 123k recorded sessions
  • 525k pages have been read
  • 2 months of data

The objective of the AB test

To analyze which version would lead more people to make a purchase in the US youth travel market.

We also wanted to see the user's exit rate from the search results page and how many of them would proceed further in the conversion funnel. Firstly by seeing a trip card on the search results. Secondly selecting a trip and learn more about it.

[yop_poll id="1"]

RELATED: Hard or soft CTA would drive higher progression into a booking funnel?

Analyzing the results of the test

The winning version in this test is Version B. Even though both versions perform almost equally, the version without a price seems to lead to 0.28% more bookings made and 3.46% more leads submitted via the Request More Info link. Also, the version without a price reduces the user's exit rate from the search results page by 4% while increasing the people that proceed from the Search page to a Product page by 0.9%.

Highlights of the Winner

Bookings Made+0.28%
More Info Form Submissions+3.46%
Exit Rate from the Search Results-4%
Users proceeding in the conversion funnel+0.9%

Overall, these numbers make sense as if a user doesn’t see the price they are more likely to move through more pages looking for it or submitting a Request More Info form to enquire about pricing while the exit rate improves.

See the winning version implemented on

What is AB testing?

An AB test is essentially an experiment where two or more variants of a page or an element are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis is used to determine which variation performs better for a given conversion goal.

Travel Youth Market

Travel youth market buying process

Ever wondered what goes in the heads of Millenials and Gen-Z wanting to buy online an adventure and explore the world? Well, let me share the secrets as a User Experience (UX) Designer and part of the travel youth market.

Travelling has become an essential part of every young person’s life and we just can’t live without it. As a UX Designer, I spent the last years analyzing the behavior of other travelers in their 20s and observing the steps they go through before buying an adventure online. I’ve been understanding their motivators for choosing a travel product, their emotional state before making a booking, and what makes them ready to make a booking.

Understanding who we are

We are seen as smartphones and social media-obsessed, where nothing from our outside world matters, but the reality is that we would use the power of the digital tools to grow, innovate, explore, connect, share and stand up for the issues we care about.

As digital natives, we have grown up with cultural influencers that have planted the seed of our global mindset. This makes us ready to explore content from countries near and far, encourage cultures different from our own, ready to venture out in the world, and make our travel matter.

All with the purpose to build long-lasting memories, overcoming our fear of missing out and find that human connection we’ve been craving for.

There is a great read that dives deeper into the subject showcasing the Travel Youth Market Trends of 2019

The buying process outline

Through working on digital eCommerce travel platforms, conducting focus group researches, and moderated studies I’ve defined five stages that a person would go through when placing a booking online.

Travel Youth Market Buying Process

RELATED: 6 Usability testing platforms rated best to worse

Planning phase

The emotional state is Wanderlust.

The customer’s shopping experience begins even before they have seen our digital platform or have realized that we offer a product that they would like to buy.

When it comes to traveling, in our every-day lives we daydream of the next adventurous destination. We don’t know what it is, but we know that we are ready for it.

Targeting people interested in travel with specific brand awareness messages is crucial. Regardless if it’s online or offline, what’s important is to grab people’s attention, plant the seed of a travel product that could resonate in their subconscious the next time they are ready to do research where and what to buy.

Research phase

The emotional state is Globetrotter

When you have guests at your doorstep, you don’t keep them at the door. You invite them to your house, offer them food and a drink.

This is the exact approach of how a digital platform should treat their customers — invite them in, don’t keep them waiting!

Most of the research phases start with a simple Google search. Some people know a specific travel brand they are looking for but most people don’t.

An example search of Millenials and Gen-Z looks like straight out of a bucket-list:

“I want to see the Eiffel Tower” or “How to get to Chichen-Itza?”

Having your platform’s SEO ready to engage with what the customers would be looking for is your invitation to the people. Once they come in, visually focused content should fast and easily present what’s the product like.

You can not expect from this stage to drive customers straight away to check out. It is very unlikely for someone to purchase in this phase. My research has shown that on average people return 5 to 8 times to the website before they are ready to proceed with making a booking.

Allow people to explore, look around, and understand what is it all about. The key here is to leave a memorable impression! A combination of easy-to-understand content, flawless user experience, and breathtaking imagery from real people who experienced the product in the past.

Specific search

The emotional state is Exploration

Once caught the people’s attention, the explorer nature inside your customers would drive them to look for a travel experience within their available time and budget.

Needless to say how important is the search experience of a digital eCommerce platform at this stage. Use that to dive deeper into the customers’ preferences — get to know them, learn what they are looking for, what do they desire most based on different search filters, keywords, etc, and create ways to present what’s relevant for their needs.

Allowing people to easily analyze the product would instantly drive them to the next stage of the buying process.

Product evaluation phase

The emotional state is Excitement

When buying something online, how many of us always have several tabs open on our browsers, trying to compare which product brings us the best value for money?

It’s no different from what Millenials and Gen-Z experience when are planning to purchase travel online.

Even more, for us, this purchase is probably the most important than any other we have ever done online. We’ve worked hard for our savings and we want to make sure we would spend it in the best possible way.

So help them do so!

It is unavoidable that at this stage the people would look into your competitor’s product, and try to calculate what is the best way to get the experience they are looking for, for the best price.

Convince people that your product is the one that is worth spending their money on. Help them understand the value of the product by making it relatable to what they are looking for — a product that would make their travel matter.

Build trust between the brand and the customer. Show that you are different from the competitors and display what are the benefits for people to choose you and not someone else. Using real people’s stories and testimonials of how their trip went could be the tipping point for many to choose YOU.

Purchase phase

The emotional state is Excitement x 10

There is nothing more exciting than finishing the booking for your travel plans and share it with everyone you know. Before people can do that, they would face the challenge of a booking experience.

Why is it a challenge? Rarely a booking experience is perfect — especially in travel, where people need to provide so many details when making a booking.

Millennials and Gen-Z would love to skip the boring stuff in life and get to the fun part as fast as possible.

In a booking process, the fun is to see your itinerary and make the final payment for it. In this emotional state, overwhelming people with making too many decisions while they are trying to get to the “end” could make them feel impatient and stressed which instantly would make them leave.

So keep the experience as simple as possible, and show that as a brand you are beside them in every step of the booking process — as would a real person do if they had to book the trip for them.

sketch design systems

Design system in Sketch that is effective for UI designers

Hey designer, have you ever had the case of creating a million versions of the same screen just with very small differences in between? Or have someone asked you to create different prototypes for different stakeholders on the same project with very small differences? Have you ever wished to have a design system that would help you make quick and easy updates?

Of course, you have! So have I.

The struggle without a design system

I recently worked on a project where I had to create 3 different prototypes for different people within the businesses. Most of the design elements were the same with very small differences.

They had at least 5-6 versions of a homepage screen where the rest of the pages were with identical UI design.

On a bright, fun Monday, I received feedback on one of those identical elements. I was asked to replace a logo graphic with a different one. The reality I was facing was that I had to update about 50 screens with such a small change. #DesignersFun!

This made me think. I can either sit there and brainlessly update 50 screens one by one, spend a whole day and then someone will ask me to do the same tomorrow or to come up with a way to automate this process.

Тhe choice here is obvious. I had to create an automated design system that can support an unlimited number of changes that I can apply across screens in seconds.

The set-up I used

I design in Sketch, but apart from that I had help with some plugins that helped me to achieve this:

Divide the design into sections

After you have created the design of your page for desktop or mobile think about how you can divide it into sections. As an example, I will use half of a design I did for a home page.

contiki homepage ui design

The sections I have defined are:

  • Top Nav Bar
  • Header with Search
  • Intro Statement
  • How it works
  • And Instagram Images

contiki homepage design system

Turn the sections into Symbols

The next thing I did is to turn the section into symbols. It is important to make sure that all the symbols have the same width (the size of your artboard) and also include all the paddings.

The easiest way to do this if the section doesn't go edge to edge is to draw a rectangle around the section and create the symbol with it. When you create your symbol, you can delete the unwanted rectangle.

design system section paddings

- I've included half of the top and bottom margin I wanted to have in between sections. This is because once you put the sections one above the other, the padding space gets added

- You include the section's background color - either as an artboard background or just a rectangle with the background color

- I have used the AutoLayout plugin to make the correct alignments to center and lock some of the elements to stay in a fixed position on the artboard.

Create a Symbols Library File

The next step is to copy your symbols into a new sketch file that you would name something like My Project - Library.

Once you migrate your symbols to the new document, you can include it in Sketch as a Library from

Sketch > Preferences > Libraries

Now the last part that is left to do is to link the symbols in your design file to the library. It's simple - just change the symbols source from the left-hand side.

design system linked library


Organize your design system with structured symbols naming

When you create your symbols for your design and move them to the library file, it's good practice to name them with some sort of a structure.

For example, the structure I have used to name the symbols starts with the format I am designing for. Then its divided into Sections and Elements.

Under sections, I have put the complete design sections in the size and format as I would use them to build my pages. Under elements I have put all symbol elements (e.g. icons, and other elements) I have used to build the sections.

After that, I have categorized my symbols by section name. Then under the section name, I have added the different variations of a section.

design system symbols name structure

To help you name your symbols you can use the RenameIt plugin for Sketch that I have mentioned above.


The finished design system

Once you have organized your symbols with correct name structure and you have used them in your designs, you can import any other symbol or variation of a symbol directly from your library. It should look like this:

design system for ui designers in sketch

Note that sometimes when you update a symbol with a different version the height of the new symbol might be different. To update it easily you can use the Automate plugin that has an option to reset the Symbol to its original height.

Updating designs become easy

After all the hard work is done, updating the designs is now easy. Just open up the section you are editing in your library document, make the changes and save it.

Once you come back to your design file you would see an option from Sketch that will ask you to update your library. The changes will be applied on every single screen and artboard across the file.

design system sketch library updates request

usability testing platforms vector graphic

6 Usability testing platforms rated best to worse

As a UX Designer, once you begin work on a certain project you always end up needing to perform usability testings on wireframes, prototypes, concepts, ideas or existing products. Doing so will uncover many interesting unknown facts about the product or validate already existing ones. In many cases, businesses do recognize that there is a need for usability testing in the product design workflow but almost every time they do not want to spend money on it.

The usability testing challenge

I was recently asked to find a remote usability testing platform that would fit the business needs and budget. But, what budget? There was no budget for testing planned at all. Because of that, the first step was to actually request some amount of money approved that I can use to spend on research tools and software.

After securing that, I started doing research on what platforms are out there, what features they offer, and how much they cost. I've put together a list that you might find useful and save you time in doing such research.

The information I have gathered below is relevant as of March 16, 2018



Subscription Cost: From $15,000 / year. Some of their other plans can go up to $25,000 per year.

Cost per participants: FREE. No additional cost is required to pay to add participants to your study. If you are unhappy with a participant it can be swapped free of charge.

Number of Studies: 12 / year. Unfortunately, this is quite a downside to have only 12 studies per year per organization

Account access: 3 people. You can have 3 people from the same organization running studies at the same time and having their own accounts

user testing usability testing platform

As part of your subscription, you also get participant screener questions. You can choose the device you would like to test on - desktop or mobile. Also available to filter by are options like age range, country, income, web expertise, and more

Personally, I believe this usability testing platform is great and they have over 1m testers across the world. Mainly in the United States but their panel size is quite decent in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada & India. Although they are quite expensive, whenever you launch a test with them, the results come in within an hour which is quite handy if you are expected to deliver quick results. If you are unhappy with a video or a tester for some reason they would change it for you free of charge.

The experience while watching and analyzing a video is quite good too and offers features like adding notes, making little clips, and creating a highlight reel with the most important comments from all the videos in your study. That doesn't happen yet automatically yet but we can't have it all, can we!

If the business/project you are working on can afford this software, I would definitely recommend it! I was lucky to use it while I was working on a project to improve a design and the user experience for last minute deals listing on a travel agency website.



Subscription Cost: From $2,388 / year. Although this is the lowest plan it offers quite some features, it's also worth checking what their other plans are.[/toggle]

Cost per participants: $15 for unmoderated / $150 for moderated. Although you pay here for your participants separately, they offer you two types. Unmoderated is for remote usability testing where people think out loud and follow a script. Moderated is when you invite people on 1:1 video calls.

Number of Studies: 36 / year. If you run out of studies, you can top up your allowance for extra $588 and you will get 36 more studies until the end of your billing cycle.

Account access: 3 people. You can have 3 people from the same organization running studies at the same time.

validately usability testing platform

As part of your subscription, you also get up to 2 participant screener questions. You get to choose the device you would like to test on - desktop or mobile. Choose the demographics of your participants - age range, country or if they have kids or not. You also get a very sweet option to create insight reports where you can add short clips with highlights and comment on them that are fully shareable.

Probably the best usability testing platform that you can find and will match expectations vs. costs and turnaround time of results. When you set up a test, results come up quite fast, probably in about 2 hours or so although they say it might take up to 5 business days. Their UI for previewing and analyzing videos can be improved but it is not bad or difficult to use. They also have good customer support if you have any questions that you would like to ask. They offer testers in Canada, the US, Australia & NZ, the UK, and the Rest of the world combined.

3. WhatUsersDo (Discontinued)

Subscription Cost: From $10,500 / year. They also offer a pay per credits plan. You can purchase 10 credits at a time for about $700 and exchange 1 credit for 1 participant in a study.

Cost per participants: FREE with the subscription"]If you have the subscription you don't pay anything for the participants in your studies but if you use the pay per credit option you would have to pay 1 credit for 1 participant. You can buy 10 credits for about $700.

Number of Studies: Unlimited. This is great!

Account access: 1 person. Only 1 person can access the account and run studies but you can run multiple studies at the same time.

whatusersdo usability testing platform

As part of your subscription, you also get participant screener questions. Choose the device you would like to test on - desktop or mobile. Choose the demographics of your participants - age range, country and more.

Overall I think WhatUsersDo are great! Personally, for me, the downside is that they do not offer testers in Australia. If you are working on a product that has it's target customers based in Australia then this online software would not be suitable for your needs.

I think the best part of this usability testing platform is that when you sign up for an account, you can also sign up for their Slack Community and interact with other UX researchers. You can also talk directly to expert researchers from WhatUsersDo. I have personally used the community to discuss research approaches and methodologies. The community is very active and friendly and it's worth being a member of.

This platform was acquired by UserZoom Inc. so I am expecting more exciting features to come forward.


Subscription Cost: From $28,000 / year. These guys are not kidding! That is the lowest they offer and it allows you to do tests only on a desktop. If you want to do mobile testing as well be prepared to pay a sweet fee of $40,000 - $60,000 per year

Cost per participants: $30-$50. If you are using participants on a desktop would be around $30 but if you are using participants on mobile would be $50 per person.

Number of Studies: Unlimited. It better be for that annual subscription fee.

Account access: 1 person. Only 1 person can access the account and run studies but you can run multiple studies at the same time.

As part of your subscription, you also get participant screener questions. Choose the device you would like to test on - desktop or mobile. Choose the demographics of your participants - age range, country, and more. You can test with your own participants as well and run unlimited studies.

From what I have looked at, this usability testing platform seems to offer a great range of research tools all in one software which is great but if you are looking to make just usability testing I wouldn't recommend it. I never had the chance to try it but I have a feeling that for the price you are asked to pay it should be good! If your business can afford it then give it a try.

5. TryMyUI

Subscription Cost: From $3,588 / year. They also offer an enterprise subscription. If you are interested you can call them.

Cost per participants: 1 CR for desktop / 2 CR for mobile"]With your subscription you get 10 CR a month

Account access: 1 person. Only 1 person can access the account and run studies but you can run multiple studies at the same time.

trymyui usability testing platform

As part of your subscription, you also get participant screener questions. Choose the device you would like to test on - desktop or mobile. Choose the demographics of your participants - age range, country and more.

I tried to set up a study with these guys but the UI and the UX of their usability testing platform made me give it all up. It's quite slow and super difficult to use. I mean, setting up a study is hard on its own and you do not need the complication of a badly designed product to add more stress to that.


Subscription Cost: None. Probably the first platform as of yet that doesn't require an annual subscription cost to use it.

Cost per participants: $21. Pretty good price! No catch!

Account access: 1 person. Only 1 person can access the account and run studies but you can run multiple studies at the same time.

usertestio usability testing platform dashboard

At the moment they do not offer anything but watching the videos. If you'd like to screen your participants you would have to contact their support to do it for you.

This platform was acquired by UserPeek.

Overall the usability testing platform has been working well but it has quite a slow turnaround time for videos. They have around 5k testers worldwide which reflects quite a lot on the timing of the tests. There is no option to screen your participants so for every test you set up you need to contact their customer support to do that for you, even though they are quite responsive sometimes your tests end up with people outside of your requested age range or screener requirements.

Read more about 10 Best Customer Experience Management Softwares of 2020