UK Retreats.

Mobile web application to search for holiday stays in the UK

UK Retreats is a company that helps people to find unusual stays across the UK whilst saving money, time, and effort. To draw more attention to the service, UK Retreats wanted to build a digital community for property owners in the UK and their clients called UKR Club.
UK Retreats already had a database of unique stays in GB. They wanted to make an extra step in providing value to the product, while at the same time monetizing their social media following by bringing followers into the app.
After UK Retreats found us on Instagram, we scheduled a short meeting at which we immediately understood how to reduce the complexity and cost of the UKR Club project. Now on to how we did it.
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We analyzed UK Retreat's target audience portrait, which showed that their customers would rather choose mobile devices to reach the app than a laptop or desktop computer. It meant that the mobile-first approach would be the best choice.
At the same time to meet our client’s budget expectations, we needed to cut the development costs, so we got rid of the idea of building a native mobile application together with a website. Rather than that, we came up with a plan of creating a simple mobile-first web application that would provide access by subscription and enable users to find the most suitable accommodations for holidays nearby the desired location.
This approach would also help to bring the app to the market as soon as possible, keep it simple for users and save their time and effort as was stated by UK Retreats. To accomplish this, we were to build a map of stays, a subscription function, and an admin panel for uploading new objects to the database. Plus, we were to create UI/UX design for a web application and a landing page leading to the app.
Our scope of work was elaborated on the very first call with UK Retreats and didn’t face any significant changes in the process of development. Some fixes were needed only after the release, which is commonplace for MVP design and creation.
After defining the client’s problem and its solution, we separated our work into three steps as usual:
Step 1
UI/UX Design
We aimed to define the user experience, draw wireframes for the key features, and thoroughly consider branding.
Step 2
At this stage, we were going to develop all necessary features based on the time-tested best development practices.
Step 3
The final goal was to present a fully working digital product that could be tested and launched on time.
We traditionally started from drawing a visual user flow chart for a future web application to note all app opportunities we had discussed in the pre-sell stage. After we created a flow chart for UK Retreats, we designed all the wireframes of the app.
Because the app covers the territory of Great Britain only, UK Retreats wanted to minimize a user’s search efforts by placing the country map on the home page. It was quite an unusual app design decision, but it was worth it because it would bring a user straight to the action.
Negative samples positive mockups
The complexity of our work on design was that we had negative references to start from. UK Retreats stressed that their goal was to look confident and minimalistic. They also listed qualities they didn’t want to see in their app, like gloomy colors, neon shades, and striking contrasts.
Keeping in mind UK Retreats’ initial wishes, we went for the variant that would exclude anything bright and very contrasted colors. At first, we combined beige and dark cyan shades.
Then, we improved the shapes and replaced colors with plainer ones, getting rid of the gradient. As a result, we presented two intermediate mockups in mint green and yellow-brown colors.
Almost there! 🎉
The design looked calm and minimalistic but still lacked confidence. We took a risk and added the black color. To compliment it, we picked a contrasting blue with a gray shade for the texts requiring taps. Still, we avoided any bright accents. This version was presented to UK Retreats, and it became the final one.
How to get the app?
To encourage users to subscribe to the UKR Club, the company needed a landing page. We created it after the mobile-first web application. UK Retreats gave us texts which we then composed in units convenient for users' perception and designed in line with the application.
Should you choose Ronas IT for creating a design of the app, you can be sure that we meet your business needs and build an application convenient for the users.
At the same time, we see development as a process of co-creation with a client. Therefore, even the initial vision may change.
That’s how it was with UK Retreats — a combination of their values and our readiness to risk for the good resulted in the final app design.
UK Retreats front part consisted of two websites. The web app was built with React. It provides flexibility for the MVP so that it could scale in the future. And the React Router used with React may help to add new features if needed.
The landing was built with Next.js. Due to the framework’s popularity, there is plenty of ready-made functionality. Moreover, Next.js is well-adjusted to SEO optimization and has simple routing that perfectly suits one-page websites.
As for Laravel, it’s our favorite for building API for web applications. We have multiple ready-to-use packages that allow us to quickly deploy the backend.
For uploading new stays, we integrated an administration dashboard using Laravel Nova. It allowed UK Retreats to add all necessary information such as photos, descriptions, locations, and tags.
To enable the administrator to run automatic dispatch of email, we used Mailgun API, an email delivery service for sending, receiving, and tracking emails.
After being uploaded, this info then would become available on the homepage map with the help of Google Geocoding API, a technology we had used many times before, so, we didn’t have any troubles applying it.
Results ✅
Because UK Retreats didn’t have any specific requirements in web app design, except for the negative references, together we found a solution that allowed us to implement core functionality they wanted to see in the MVP, support the values of UK Retreats, and meet the budget and deadlines at the same time.
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4 references 3 versions 1 final design
wire- frames
hrs of design
hrs of development
Ready MVP
within 3 months
Frontend Developer
Backend Developer
DevOps Engineer
2 Reviewers
2 Designers
Art Director
1 Reviewer
Project Manager
Payment gateway and subscriptions:
Google Maps & Google Geocoding API
React, Next.js
Admin Panel:
Laravel Nova
Cloud Hosting:
Google Cloud Platform GCP
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