The Outbound Collective

The best way to find local adventures, tours, lodging, and travel inspiration. I wear many hats, including product strategy, design (web, iOS and Android), creative direction, photography/content production, and web development (pushing production front-end and Rails code).

🌎 Grew to 500k+ registered users
📱 Redesigned apps for React, featured app in the App Store (2x)
⭐️ Increased user engagement around reviews
👀 Grew organic traffic to over 1M monthly visits

Community-focused product strategy

I gave our community the opportunity to chat with me directly in 30 minute time slots (I used Calendly). I conducted  ~60 hours of phone and skype interviews + additional qualitative surveys and analytics evaluations to identify pressing issues and trends amongst our community members.

The notes of these interviews were combined into a single document (using Airtable) which grouped the feedback into overarching themes. Each theme was given a series of potential design, development, or business decisions to help us address the feedback. I presented these findings to the team with respect to how they might affect 4 key pillars:  revenue growth, user growth, user engagement, and predicted overall impact on the product. These conclusions were used to set product development priorities after scoping conversations with our CTO.

The Outbound is a (very) small team -- it was important for me to have a thorough understanding of engineering issues, and have frank conversations with engineers about manageable steps forward that won't break our entire system. When possible, I'll dip into both the front-end and Rails codebase to make less complex changes. I've currently authored about 15% of the Outbound codebase.

How can we move faster on mobile?

While the Outbound was able to quickly iterate on the web app, we eventually started having trouble maintaining feature parity between the web and our mobile apps (both native).

After significant research, we decided to redesign our mobile apps and move them to a single codebase using React Native. This approach comes with limitations, but it also allows us to utilize services like Expo, and move/iterate more quickly on features.

Of particular focus was our map experience, which we redesigned to have a much more fluid transition between map and list search. Additionally, we added support for GPX tracks and offline route downloads -- two of the most requested features by our community.

The result? We saw increased engagement, faster rollout of new features, less crashes, and our average App Store rating went from 3.5 stars -> 4.8 stars.

How can we increase engagement around reviews?

We wanted to increase our acquisition of reviews, because they are important to users looking for things to do, and played into our SEO strategy on web. We weren't generating many reviews on mobile, so I decided to reframe reviews with an action that felt more like an accomplishment.

Instead of promoting "Leave a review" as one of the key actions on adventures, we adjusted the copy to focus on *completion* of the adventure. By changing the copy to "Done it" and making it an accomplishment, I hoped to drive more engagement -- that would then prompt for a review. We wouldn't covert everyone to reviews, but the hope was that overall it would lead to an increase in engagement.

This update significantly changed how users were interacting with these pages in the apps. We saw a *large* increase in reviews and engagement around adventures following this change. 40% more reviews were added in the month following this update.

Not a fake graph. Pulled directly from Metabase.

Developing a strong programmatic SEO strategy.

The Outbound performs well in overall SEO rankings. We've made many improvements over the years with structured data, internal links, and the organization of adventure pages -- which make up a significant portion of organic traffic (users searching for specific places "Alamere Falls", "McWay Falls", etc).

I wanted to increase our coverage for more generalized search terms, and acquire users earlier in their search journey. This meant we would need to win searches like 'best [activity] in [location]. We were able to capture some of this traffic with editorial content, given our small team, I wanted to insure we had a programatic solution in place as well.

We implemented a programatic page strategy around activities and destinations that has had significant success in driving broader search terms to The Outbound.

Also a real graph. Screenshotted from Google Analytics.