Coming up with an idea for my capstone project is kind of a daunting task. I want to come up with something ingenious, never been done before, thought-provoking, and that is immaculately designed… but am having a little trouble figuring out exactly what that is :/  I am leaning towards a site that helps you make a decision or discover new things, based on some criteria you put in. Here is some research that I’ve done on sites that provide this kind of service.

My Ideal Beach

myidealbeach1As I mentioned in class, I got some inspiration from a site called myidealbeach.com. On this site, users go through a very simple three step process to (as you guessed it) find their ideal beach vacation. The process is very visual. No long survey to fill out or annoying registration page. You just simply choose who is going to be traveling with you, what kind of activities you want to do, and the amenities you want the hotel to have.

Then, the site gives you your ideal choice based on your criteria, and a list of additional choices with details about rates and availability. If you want, you can go in and narrow your search even further, by specifying a region like Mexico or the Caribbean, and by specifying budget criteria.

I think the site is simple, yet brilliant. I like how clean the design is, and that it is playful- it looks like stuff you would find lying on a beach. Also, I like that the results are given to the user in a clear, intuitive way, and that you can easily alter your decision to get different results.

Travelocity Experience Finder

Experience Finder is another great travel site that helps you discover vacation spots by putting in certain criteria. It’s different from My Ideal Beach in an obvious way: it doesn’t confine itself to beach locations. In the first step of the process, the user is presented with either choosing between a type of vacation (theme) or a specific location. Then you can choose to look into hotel accommodations, activities, look at a calendar of events, etc.

experience

The Experience Finder site is built really well, with cool Flash transitions that actually load very fast. It is a lot more robust than the My Ideal Beach site, but almost a little more confusing, I thought. The user is almost presented with too many options, which can be a little overwhelming. But it is awesome that you can get really detailed, by looking at different types of activities and assigning a budget for example.

Urban Spoon

urbanThose of you with iPhones are no doubt familiar with Urban Spoon as an app. This is a great concept that is very easy for people to understand. You set certain criteria, like where in the city you want to eat, what type of food you want, and how much to pay. I like that you can switch it up, and lock certain criteria in place and leave another “unlocked” to see what the different results would be.

I like that the site targeted me as a user, by immediately identfying where I was as a user, with specific Dallas area restaurant content on the homepage. Also, I like that this site works well as both as a normal website and a mobile application. Hopefully, I can make my capstone project one that could work well as a mobile app as well as a site.

Pandora

Alright, everyone knows what Pandora is by now, but I am still constantly amazed with how well it seems to know me and my musical tastes. I like how little the user needs to do in order to discover new music. There is a minimal amount of registration that you need to do to sign up, and actually, a user could decline to register and still use the site. You just put in an artist’s name or a song title and Pandora takes over from there. Also, I like that you can help Pandora by giving a thumbs up or down on a song, and by adding more stations. There is some pretty insane programming behind Pandora that I may not be able to fully match with my site, but I would to at least have as solid a concept.

We are Hunted

I can’t remember how I ran across the site wearehunted.com, but I think it is brilliant in its simplicity. On this site, users discover new artists and music. huntedIt is not hard to figure out, you just click on one of the images that represent a song and it plays, and you can sort through music by artists, songs, and what has been popular the past week or the past month. I have discovered some cool up and coming artists this way. Again, I like that its visual, simple, and requires minimal effort on the part of the user.

Hunch

Hunch might be the ultimate site in helping users make decisions. hunch

As an article on CNN described it “Hunch, a site that launches for the public Monday, will consider your quandary by getting to know you, asking you a series of questions and then spitting out three decisions.”

Apparently, as you go through a series of questions with Hunch, the site begins to know you better, and helps you make decisions. I’m not sure I want to be this broad in focus for my capstone project, but nonetheless, I thought it was an interesting concept.

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