Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Visual and Performing Arts

First Advisor

Zhenyu Cheryl Qian

Committee Chair

Zhenyu Cheryl Qian

Committee Member 1

Yingjie Victor Chen

Committee Member 2

Steve C. Visser


With the new forms of travel introduced by new technologies of transportation and communication, a satisfied travel experience could be affected by various factors before and during a trip. Especially for road trips, traveling by car provides freedom on time control while leading to more possibilities of rescheduling initial plans made under time constraints. When overwhelmed with the need for changed travel context to avoid unexpected events that will require a serious change of initial plans, travelers need to find and access helpful contextual information quickly. This is a context-related decision making process that requires amplifying human situation awareness and supporting distributed cognition, since travel information offers multiple choices. To solve this problem, I applied information visualization as the main design solution. When comparing it with a traditional representation of lists, information visualization displays the advantages of visual representation of abstract data to clarify and depict the information and amplify cognition while improving travel experience intuitively in the domain of user experience design. Therefore in this thesis I will address the approach of implementing recontextualized situation awareness, distributed cognition, and information visualization in a travel-aid system. By using both theoretical and practical design perspectives, I will discuss how to enhance travel experience with represented contextual information that users desire or expect before and during a road trip. I will also explore the new values of this design with strategic business support. Additionally, after conducting research and analysis on existing interaction design parts, I selected a smartphone app to serve as a proper platform with connected multifunctions. Briefly, I begin the thesis with a review of previous theories and aspects of travel planning, information visualization as it relates to travel, situation awareness, and distributed cognition in the design context and related smartphone apps. Then I discuss the process of identifying the specific issues to be solved or improved with a preliminary research of empirical study, followed by an interview, online survey, insights synthesis, and business model design. After a visual-system design was developed, heuristic evaluation was employed to assess the outcome. Lastly, a new round of refined design results is introduced based on outcomes of the evaluation.