Preparing recreational boaters for outings around their local waterways.

UX Design
4 weeks, March 2015

Baybound App

A tool for enabling safe practices for recreational boaters, so that they can proactively plan for trips around their local waterways.

This project was a result of my roots.

My experience as a recreational boater was the true catalyst for this project.

Baybound was motivated by an earlier design project on establishing and visualizing a database of 100 things. For my “things” I chose 100 anchor and mooring spots in Narragansett Bay, and collected my data points with some traditional sailor’s spirit: sitting over charts of the bay area and plotting the coordinates by hand to estimate 100 locations that my family and I had ventured out to.

While a fictitious concept, I never aimed to create a GPS system for boating—there are much more complex technologies with stronger accuracy for that than I believed a smartphone or tablet would be able to handle at the time. With that, I didn’t see an industry need for another “best of class” design to compete with existing interfaces. I wanted to truly fill a gap in creating a tool for captains that would promote safe trip-planning habits.

The float plan is the primary feature that I wanted to emphasize in Baybound. It’s a safety precaution that many inexperienced boaters disregard. Created by the United States Coast Guard, it’s a document that records the safety equipment and persons on board, as well as marking the departing and arrival dates for extended trips. It’s meant to be given to a trusted neighbor to ensure that someone is aware your away and meant to return at a planned time.

From conducting user interviews with active boaters, I learned the reason why most boaters don’t even know it exists, or disregard it if they do, is because it’s not the easiest document to access on the go. There’s a float plan template available for PDF download  on the USCG’s website, which wasn't yet responsive to mobile devices. I also learned that despite my initial assumption that this should be a smart phone app, the overall opinion from interviewees was to see this app on a tablet over a phone screen. In 2015, I was surprised to learn that majority of the people I spoke to owned and often used tablets such as an iPad, and many from older generations didn't own smartphones.

In the midst of finalizing our undergraduate portfolios and applying for jobs, I quickly learned how ambitious it was to develop a new project practically from scratch, while the majority of my classmates were directing their ambitions towards reworking all of their past projects. From research to design, I had 4 weeks to bring this concept to life in parallel to my other degree work, and I under those constraints I couldn’t have been prouder with the result. This was the project that solidified my ambition to work in User Experience.

Thanks for reading!