Golshid Yousefi
UX Designer

Space Needle

An Observation Tower in Seattle

Application Design

About Space Needle

The Space Needle is a privately-owned landmark observation tower that stands at 605 feet tall. The Space Needle recently underwent a multi-year $100 million renovation program that features the world’s first 360-degree rotating glass floor. 

 As part of the renovation program, the Space Needle was rebranded to reflect its new vision to elevate the visitor experience. For this project, we were tasked with redesigning the Space Needle smartphone application to enhance and elevate the visitors' experience.


The project entailed developing a well-researched for monotized the application and make a better user experience design for users.

Space Needle
The Process

For Research and Interaction Design

We determined the mentioned process in this project.

Space Needle
Business Analysis

Business Goals

The business goals are oriented to enhanced visitor experience while providing and organic social media outreach component.

  1.  The user downloads the application and buys a ticket through it.
  2.  Take photos, use features, and share in social media using tags and location indicators that would promote the Space Needle.
  3.  Promote partner brand and other packages.

We Designed a few Important Research Questions

  1. Who visits the space needle and who are the current users of the space needle app?
  2. What are the current pain points for Space Needle visitors?
  3. What are the pain points of the existing Space Needle app for app users?
  4. How can we build on better app features to enhance the user experience on the app and as a whole?
  5. What are the unmet needs of the users and how can they be addressed with the app?
  6. Based on usability findings what could we demonstrate in changes to flow or visual design that would improve customer experience?

The Challenges

The Problems:

  • Most visitors do not know that the Space Needle application exists.
  • The existing application is not user-friendly and is badly organized.
  • Buying thicket through the application is cumbersome.

The Solutions:

  • Promote the application and motivate people to download the app.
  • Through user research and testing reorganize the application and enhance the user experience
  • Develop a fluid user journey for purchasing tickets.
  • Make the application more user-friendly


For Discovering The Problems:

To start, my team and I explored the existing application and tried to buy a ticket through application. These are the pain points we discovered in our first attempt to explore the existing application.

Heuristic Evaluation
Space Needle


  1.  The process of buying a ticket through the application is very exhausting.
  2. There is a hamburger menu that only has a “log out” option
  3. The information was hard to read, and the heading was not noticeable.
  4. It is not possible to explore the application and learn more before buying a ticket.
  5. It is not clear if there are food and drinks for sale or if they can be purchased through the app.
  6. The Tab bar item “See It All” is confusing and does not convey its function to the user.

Usability Testing
Space Needle

Understanding the Users

(Using the App at the Space Needle, On-site observation:)

As the team interaction designer for this project, while I was visiting the Space Needle, I talked people, observed them while using the application, asked them about their problems using the application.

We discovered that uploading the ticket to the application requires entering an 18-digit number.

Through observation, We learned that most people are not aware of the application, however, the ticket attendant told us that roughly 50 percent of visitors use their smartphones to present their tickets to check-in.

Space Needle
Space Needle

Problems We Found:

  • The two SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE have very different instructions for using them and this is very confusing.
  • The SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE stations function completely differently.
  • It is hard to understand how to use the SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE features.
  • The SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE were hard to find while at the Needle. 
(From our research, we learned that people often get lost in the Space Needle and can’t easily locate specific locations. An interactive map would be really helpful to assist users with locating different features throughout their visit. I set to work on finding the most efficient way to incorporate the interactive map within the app. )

Space Needle

What We Learned:

From our visit, we decided we could enhance the app by:

  • Improving the ticket purchase process
  • Incentivizing the download, since it is most likely going to be a single-use app
  • Enhance the experience aspect because we want customers to use it throughout their entire visit

The Solutions:

  • Motivate people to download the application using strategies such as a discount or promotional packages for Seattle insight tickets with very good prices. Also, it is very important to add some interesting features and make it easier to use the existing features.
  • Redesign the application and design and make it more user-friendly.
  • Have clear instructions for using the SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE.
  • Have the same structure for using both the SKY-HIGH SELFIE and ZOOMIE.
  • Motivate people to take picture and share them in social media.
  • Consider an interactive map for visitors
  • Provide clear information about the restaurant, menu, and prices.

Major Online Survey Outcomes

Online Survey (quantitative data): 

Our researcher, Elizabeth, set up an online survey to find out potential user expectations from sightseeing and/or tourist activity. We then synthesized our results into our insights.

  • Platform: Google Survey
  • Method: Snowballing on Facebook & Craigslist
  • Responses: 89  

Space Needle

Define Research

After Research, we wanted to gather feedback from the existing users. We interviewed some of our respondents, then conducted affinity mapping.

With the survey, we understood who can be our potential users and what they want.

Then we made our PERSONA according to our research.

Affinity Mapping
Space Needle

Interview Participants (Qualitative Data)

Elizabeth Interviewed 9 people out of 89 survey respondents. Based on the results the outcomes of our interview, we spotted repeated themes and the team conducted affinity mapping.

What User Needs

  • "Photos are my favorite part of any Experiences."
  • "I want to enjoy the experience just as much as my kids"
  • "I love to post my photos on my social media"

Define Potential Users
Space Needle

Potential Users

We need to have a good understanding of our potential users to develop our persona. Based on Elizabeth’s research survey and the interviews she conducted, our potential users could be divided into two major groups.

  • Families with Kids
  • Young Adults- Dates
Space Needle

As her kids get older, Miranda wants to take her children on a quality family vacation. Miranda wants to her kids to have memorable experiences with educational value.

Meet Miranda

Our representation of the target audience comprised of data gathered in the research.

Based on Survey Method, User Interview, Persona Creation, Usability Testing, Comparative & Competetive Analysis, Contextual research, and Affinity Mapping I developed the Persona. I referred to her throughout the entire product development process.


Designing for Miranda

We created our primary persona, Miranda. Miranda has a family and of course, she prefers to be offered group or family discount. So, she would get interested to download the application if some sort of discount was offered. She is also interested to keep her kids entertained and engaged while at the Space Needle. Miranda also wants to have the ability to save and share photos. The Space Needle App is designed for tourists such as Miranda. With that in mind, we wanted an app that would enhance the overall experience. Our app has five features accessible on the tab bar. The user is able to easily access capture, visit, camera, maps, & tickets.

Space Needle


Step One: Incentivize

Since the Space Needle is a tourist destination, the app will most likely be a single-use app. In addition to redesigning the app to enhance the experience, we also wanted to incentivize the download. Currently, there is minimal marketing for the app and most people we spoke with at the Space Needle were unaware of the app. Our team proposed a marketing campaign that provides a 15% discount when the app is downloaded and utilized for access.

Space Needle

Step Two: Recommendations Based on Research

  • Use similar processes for using the Sky-High Selfie and the Zoomie utilizing a scannable QR code for both features, whereby avoiding any frustrations with ticket scanner.
  • Include information about dining.
  • Have clear instructions on using the application and every feature.
  • Include an interactive map of the building to find experiences.
  • Use the uniqueness of the Seattle space needle and thrilling views.
  • Increase photo-sharing opportunities by included and 360-degree camera that uses AR to show import Seattle structures and landmarks. As well as, as a filter camera for family-fun photos

Flow Diagram
Site Map
Space Needle

 After a lot of iteration which I will show you in my design section, we came with this menu in our tab bar which includes all things our user needs in Space Needle.

Our Tab Bar 

  • Capture
  • Visit
  • Camera
  • Map 
  • Ticket
Space Needle

Sketching & Prototyping

In this project, my main role was as an Interaction Designer. I conducted many iterations, and it took a while to get the result. That's why I decided to help our researcher to conduct. In this design process, you see low-fidelity (paper prototyping), mid-fidelity and then high-fidelity prototyping.

Space Needle

A/B Testing (Carousel)

Between these two (horizontal/vertical) scrolling, users were more comfortable with Vertical.

For both Experience Page and Visit Page.

Space Needle

Usability Testing Findings

  • 5 Options on the tab bar are acceptable.
  • We need to have a box for each clickable option.
  • Easier for a user to not scroll down every page.


  • Try a new design with 5 options in tab bar to add some other options to monetize the application.
  • Remove home from the tab bar.
  • add Camera to the tab bar.

Space Needle

After lots of sketches, I came with this idea to separate the Home page to Experience page & Visit page. Instead of having both on the same page categorized them in two pages.

Here I was thinking about having carousel design yet. but among these 2 designs, the original and new design, I conducted usability testing and design B won.

Users believed that they do not need to see the home page, and they were aware of the logo can be the home page as well.

Space Needle
Space Needle

Tab Bar / Adding Camera & 360

As I mentioned earlier, for monetizing the application we needed to add some features in our application. The more pictures people can take with their application, the more possibility they share them on social media. As using the cameras in the Needle is very complicated and there is some strong possibility that user doesn’t use them, we thought adding a camera in our application with some filters can be a good idea. people can take a picture whenever they are and having some Space Needle filter for their background. It can be very interesting for Seattle visitors.

Also, there is another application by the name of Space Needle 360. We thought is better to combine these two applications together in one.

Space Needle

Design Studio

Design Studio helped us a lot at this stage.

Alana and I were struggling to come up with some layouts for the Visit Page, so we took our designs to the whiteboard. After the challenge, we came up with two versions that we tested.

In order to better understand the home screen, we had to go over the different flows a user could take. In these photos, we are discussing the different flows from the visit screen. This photo shows the visit screen layout for dining that we decided on.

Space Needle

A/B Testing

These are two different designs that we came up with for Visit Page.

Space Needle

Usability Testing

I conducted usability testing with 5 different potential users, and surprisingly all were more comfortable with design A. I say surprisingly because I design B they will click less to approach what they want and they can see all their options on one page.

But yes, this is what UX teaches you. We are not users and the users always surprise us.

Space Needle
Space Needle


After deciding to put the dining session on the visiting page, we thought about changing the experience page to something that shows it is about taking photos. So after asking some users, they definitely liked to CAPTURE more. So our first page/home screen page will call CAPTURE instead of Experience.

Where is our MAP?

As I mentioned before, it was hard for our users to find where they are and how to find the cameras, so we decided to consider an internal map to show where our users are and how they can find their way to go.


Digital Prototype

Space Needle
Space Needle

Visual Design

Our visual designer, Alana worked on the style sheet and she tried her best in the minimum time has the best result. I upload some of her works here.

Space Needle
Space Needle

Buy Ticket



The project resulted in an app that was more relevant in today’s marketplace. The research will act as a foundation to build upon for future iterations - getting closer to users needs instead of veering further from them. Monetising the application can give more meaning for the client and giving a discount to users is a better way to use the application. The design solutions resolve many of the heuristic problems we initially found so the app is measurably more usable!

What did I learn?

  • The most important thing our group learned was expressing ourselves and our ideas to prevent further problems.
  • Time management is very important for the group project and not missing the deadlines. Missing a role deadline has a very deep effect on the other’s roles impact.
  • A UX Designer should consider marketing and business aspect as he/she works on design as well. The application needs to have a financial benefit for both sides to keep them motivated for using the application.
  • People need an intuitive experience to use any application, otherwise is really hard to keep them as a user. It was really easy to observe this fact in this project that how great experience design is important.

Next Steps

If we were to continue to build out the app, our team would like to test the following ideas:

  • Based on the insights, the user didn’t want to go at crowded times so we would like to add a feature that shows times that are more ideal for them.
  • Make the building map geo-based location that will also take you to the other attractions shown in the app under “see it all”.
  • Geographical context, so the app will change based on where the user is at in regards to the Space Needle.
  • Adding language options because it is a large tourist destination.