Personal Project

Guides and citytours for expats

In a nutshell...

Project: An app that allows expats to instantly connect with an expert in a given field. The app offers personal guidance and tailor-made city tours.

Role: UX designer

Responsibilities: user research, user interviews ( + concept, prototyping, usability tests)

Date: Autumn 2017

Result: Tested prototype with several iterations.


I designed an expert app for my UX certification. The focus of the expert app was open to interpretation, so I took this opportunity to dive into expat needs that I have heard from my environment.

Being an expat in a new city can be as daunting as exciting. Learning a new language, getting your paperwork done, fighting home sickness and finding your way around. What if you would have a buddy that could help you with your administration, introduces you to social life in a new city or knows where to find those tasty pastries they only have back home?

That was the idea of Kompas: a service for expats that goes beyond citytours. With Kompas, expats can book an expert that could help them with administration work or offer citytours customized to their personal needs.

Understanding the market

I started my project with competitor research, S.W.O.T. analyses and a desktop research. Competitor analysis is the go-to method I use to get familiar with a topic. It allows me to understand the market better, see what services and products are offerend and discover market gaps. It also is a great opportunity to identify UX/UI best practices within an industry.

I wanted to find out how expats currently deal with questions about moving abroad, finding a job, filing a visa etc. I also wanted to know if there were any communities helping expats adjust to new cities and cultures and tackle their homesickness. I analyzed forums like Internations, Facebookgroups focused on expats and Meetup communities and studied what they're offering and how they help expats.

Most initiatives that are available to expats seem to focus on the social aspect, like Facebook-groups and Meet-ups that focus on meeting new people or having a shared hobby. However, there were no services or groups that supported expats with the administrative part of moving abroad. I was surprised by this, as I assumed this to be one of the biggest hurdles.

Getting to know expats

I really wanted to understand what expats need the most to feel at home when they move to a new country, what they enjoy when they move to a new city and if they use city tours to get to know their new home. To find answers, I conducted three user interviews with expats in different ages and with different professions.

Within the user interviews, I tried to uncover the psychological influences of moving to another country. Learning a new language and culture shock are obvious things expats have to deal with, but what are the deeper emotions they face?

Loneliness and homesickness were very apparent within my group of interviewees. However, that had less to do with not speaking the language or having a small social circle, but rather with the smaller things like feeling lost in bureaucracy or not finding their favorite food from home.

All insights were clustered and synthesized in affinity maps

Defining the problem space

I collected all insights on affinity boards to gain an overview of what my interviewees say, think and value. I discovered that the problem expats face is twofold. On the one hand expats struggle with the paperwork needed to move abroad and on the other hand they find it very hard to meet new people in a new city. This led me to the following problem statement:

How might expats to feel at home in a new city where they are not familiar with the language or administrative processes?

Based on the user research I identified several use cases. First of all, expats are looking for help to finish their paperwork and administration. They want to connect with other expats and people from their home country and practice a new language. I used the insights of my research to create persona's.

I chose personas, as this would allow me to portray the difference expats types. I found it easier to distinguish the different types and their needs and gained a deeper, more emotional understanding of the specifics of each persona.

Three different expat personas with each their own specific needs

For each persona I defined the key jobs that characterize this persona and brought this together in a user journey, varying from a single student to a family with kids.I found out that the jobs to be done where either social like meeting new people or functional like finding help with administrative work.