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Smaller World

(SXSW Hackathon)

iOS App that uses your music taste to better your travel experiences


Product Design

Visual Design


Many travellers are not satisfied with having general tourist spot recommendations when traveling to foreign place.

Scope & Timeline

24 hours (Mar 2019)


An iOS App to recommend events, local artists, restaurants, and hotels based on travellers' music taste.



A new playlist for your trip

We curate a brand new list of artists for you, based on your travel destinations and music preferences.

Find unique places off the beaten path

We suggest new places, venues, and restaurants based on your music preferences. The kind of places that don't show up on tourist guides.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 7.34.12 PM.png

Events you shouldn't miss

Based on your trip dates and music preferences, we recommend must-go events for your trips.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 7.34.22 PM.png

Smaller World is an iOS app for personalized travel experience based on your Spotify playlist and music preferences.


We use a mixture of AI and traditional music recommendations to help users discover places, artists, and events. When you travel, we suggest new artists, places, venues, and restaurants based on your music preferences from Spotify. The kind of places that don't show up on tourist guides.



Video Demo




Imagine this: You are going to London and you love Reggae.

You want to get the most out of your travel experience but have no idea where to find Reggae lovers' favorite places in London.


You go through all the major travel websites and most of them are about popular (and crowded) tourist spots.



Music streaming services market

Based on the APIs provided during this hackathon, we decided to use Qloo to link music preferences to recommended artists. Because we were focusing on travelers, we used the location filter to obtain information about venues, events, and artists.


I did some general research about the most popular music apps and decided to implement Spotify as the only sign-in portal.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 11.28.23

Source: Midia


Spotify has the largest amount of subscribers in the music streaming market.


Source: Statista


The number of Spotify's subscribers is gradually increasing.


Competitive analysis

I did some competitive analysis of similar products in order to decide what impact Smaller world will make and what distinguish our product from others.



Travel recommendations app

Trip advisor is more general, mainstream based


Personalization and customization

Recommendations based on similar music vibes. SK is ticket focused.


SM has more features on recommendations


SW had no ticketing connection by this step



Event recommendation based on customization needs


Eventbrite is focusing on events and sells tickets


SW uses personalization before customization


SW has not enough events rec compared to Eventbrite


Finding the niche

We are designing SmallerWorld to satisfy the needs of matching people's music tastes to things that are essential for traveling and having fun. Apart from the relevant events recommendations, we also help people discover new artists in the travel locations and recommend essentials that may not seem relevant to music, such as hotels and restaurants.


Based on the competitive analysis, we also found other features that we may want to add later to the app. Ticketing is tightly linked with events page so that people can check out the events (RSVP) right away, not needing to find another ticket app. Reservation feature on the hotel/restaurant page is also another feature we are developing later.


Visual keywords


  • Collects info about the user’s taste but makes no assumptions about it

  • The user retains discretion throughout different stages of the app



  • A vivid and consistent color palette with complementary illustrations to create a vacation mood for the user


  • Connection with Spotify makes it easy for Spotify users to get started

  • Allows the user to navigate between different portions of the APP easily

​For example, although musical preference is collected when the user connects to Spotify, we still ask the user to choose several musicians that they like on the subsequent screen.


If the user still does not find their preferred type of musicians, they can add in the categories/hashtags according to their preferences. 


Color palette

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Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 2.43.30 AM.png
User persona

User persona

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Challenges in designing the prototypes

  • How to reduce the cognitive loads for signing in?

  • Most frequently used features on a travel recommendation app?

  • Why would a potential user download?

  • When to use the map-view?

  • Should we separate hotel and restaurant recommendations on different pages?

We discussed what to put on the bottom navigation tab based on the data from APIs. During the hackathon, we were able to get recommended hotels, restaurants, artists, and music pieces (events come after the contest). 


To decide on what are the most important things travelers are looking for while traveling, I did some general potential user interviews to dig deeper into users/travelers' motivations and preferences when using a travel-related APP.


After some interviews and discussions with frequent travelers, I decided to use "artists, places, events" (who, where, when) for bottom navigation because they are the three most frequently mentioned keywords by travelers.


User flow






  • Hotel and restaurant page (geographically determined, map-view)

    • Integrated with Google Maps

    • Centers the map on where the user's current location: creates instantaneous and personalized recommendations.

  • Events page (list-view)

    • The title, picture, and time of each event are listed, making it intuitive for the user to choose which ones to go to


  • Artists and musician recommendation page (round frame for each musician)

    • I decided to use round frames for musician profiles to create a more humane feeling for users.


  • (Coming soon) I will add a "save for later" button when we develop the user's personal profile page to display their saved items.


  • Engages the user in every step of the decision-making process while maintaining a comfortable degree of freedom: allowing them to choose musicians, hashtags...

Hand-off with developers

After creating the prototypes, developers in our team have built the interfaces and implemented the back-end and are working on implementing more features to enhance the user experience.



Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 8.10.14 PM.png


Designing in a high-pressure environment

  • Pressure Management: Worked under pressure (temporal pressure and peer pressure) to ideate the best solutions effectively.


  • Collaboration: I also gained a lot of experience working with engineers and developers, flexibly adjusting functions based on what data they were able to get from available APIs.


  • Feasibility Adjustment: By defining the theme and vibe of this mobile app, my designs and logos were more convincing and feasible to implement.


  • AI Integration: Using AI as a new framework frees users from painstakingly defining their own tastes, enhancing the user experience. We link the unfamiliar (travel in a new place) with the familiar (your Spotify playlist) and solidify the idea of taste (subtle) into actual everyday practice (solid).

Future development

  • We are going to improve the data input by allowing users to connect their Google Maps accounts to improve recommendations by using the kinds of places users enjoy.


  • We are also talking to BuzzAngle to get popular artists/songs by market and genre, which would greatly help refine the dataset.


  • Plugging into the SongKick and Eventbrite APIs, so we can start showing the user relevant concerts and events.


  • If I have more time during the hackathons, I would spend more time on research and ideation to explore different solutions. I want to investigate more on the steps of how travelers plan ahead when making decisions and the connection between music preferences and personality big-five factors.

March 2019



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