Maria’s Hostel & Surf


  • Understand
  • Research
  • Analyze
  • Design
Software and Hardware
  • Interviews and Testing
  • Pen and Paper
  • Sketch
  • InVision

Create a website to show the hostel, activities and book the stay

Maria’s Hostel & Surf have been working on the Furadouro beach (Ovar, Portugal) for a few generations, isn’t just been here for a long time, but have been modernising to reach more people than ever, with the current owner, have open a new wave not just on the ocean but in the digital ocean in getting an website connected with other platforms, such and AirBnb.


Having been a part in the know the new owner for older projects and friendship I have the lucky on taking this amazing project, giving me the brief to create a new website for Maria’s Hostel & Surf in a short time.

The opportunity here, was to create a website with a booking system to allow travelers to plan and book local experiences based on their interests. Bruno Aguiar (hostel owner) provided me with a brief asking us to focus on the following features:

Features Requested:
  • Browsing and booking local experiences
  • Ability to schedule bookings
  • Rating and sharing the experience on social media
  • Show more than one activities

Research & Analyze

This is for sure the second big part of a UX Designer, know what should expect about the other competitors, what the people talk and need for us and what we can do better to improve the visitor’s life.

For that reason, I have followed the next tricks.

My super tricks
  • 1:1 interview, with already costumers and non-costumers
  • Group interview (good to disagree with each other)
  • User Personas
  • Usability testing
  • User journey maps
Software and Hardware
  • Paper and Pencil
  • Camera
  • iPad
  • Google everything
  • No shame in the face to talk with people on the street

Competitive Analysis

Understand our competition and landscape better

User Interviews

Kick off our user research, we conducted user interviews with the aim of speaking to both business and leisure travellers in order to get a better understanding of both types of travellers’ goals and pain points.


With the User personas and post exercises, I have done this is a great part to put everything on the same page and advance to the action

Competetive Analysis

To understand our competition and landscape better, I conducted a competitive analysis with a few competitors in the local area. I found that in most hotel websites, users are not able to learn more about local hotel and experiences or see reviews on the majority of websites.

User interviews and User Personas

To kick off our user research, I conducted user interviews with the aim of speaking to both business and leisure travellers in order to get a better understanding of both types of travellers goals and pain points.

Interview Findings

After synthesizing all our interview findings into an affinity map, the common themes we saw emerging were:

  1. Business travellers don’t book extra days off after their trip in order to have time for cultural experiences
  2. Trusting other tourist recommendations on common travel sites was no issue for a lot of our users
  3. Sense of discovery and spontaneity users wanted to feel in a new place
  4. Almost all travellers want to experience in local life in one way or another
  5. Travellers prefer to research experiences but not book anything unless it is an event requiring prior booking


Based on our user interviews and the research gathered, I created our persona, Joana, to help us create an optimal experience for our target users.

(Empathy Mapping)

User Journey

To further understand the whole user experience before the user reaches the website, we created a user journey map to consider what Joana is doing and feeling two months before the trip and in the time after.

We understood how Joana would build up expectations before a trip, by reading hotel information looking at photos, or some reviews. She would then feel disappointed if it does not meet her expectations because she did not have a realistic idea of the experience.

Ideation & Prototype

After a series of crazy 8s, I have decided to mix and match some of our favourite ideas into several features.

Feature prioritization

To narrow it down to the most essential features, we conducted a feature prioritization using the 2×2 matrix, rating features based on necessity and effort.

Based on our user research and interviews, we prioritized the below features:

  1. Direct contact feature with the hotel concierge to provide quality customer service from wherever the guest is
  2. Curated and personalized content so users can trust the recommendations
  3. Recommendations categorized by interest so they can find intuitively what suits them


From testing the paper prototype, I have learned the following:

  • The selection of the restaurants was confusing as users did not have sufficient information to understand why there were only 10 recommendations.
  • The booking process was misleading to users as they felt the booking had been completed but had no confirmation.

Card Sorting

I have conducted an open and closed card sort to ensure the categories we chose on the homepage for the different experiences were clear to the users.

Site Mapping

To find the right path and gettings the most important pages in the Marias Hostel I have played a game with the hostel owner and some guests.

I have picked the important pages to the hostel and I right in the paper, in total as been created 11 pieces and I have to give 5 swuits for each person and they should get in the page more important for her, and have been defined to the organization the site-map.

With the bet, I have to know more why that page deserve so much be in top line and not other ones.


A few examples of the fun I have to figure out the best way to implement some of the most important features on the page.