Getting the Little Things Right


Marriott Mobile Design Process


Marriott International


Director of Mobile Experience Design (staff), UX lead, designer, information architect


Marriott had a screen fetish. After several years of mobile product development, the organization had trouble thinking past each individual phone screen and conversations got mired in assets and business rules.

Out-sourced, off-shore developers and a dependence on the wonky Kony platform made it even more difficult to redirect Marriott’s mobile development.


Content is king on larger screens, but how people interact with content can make or break small-screen design. Instead of designing user flows based on categories of content or functionality (hotel search, account screens, etc.), I went a level deeper and designed the experience for Marriott’s first native app based on combinations of microinteractions. For example, hotel search became:

  • Enter special rates
  • Select brand
  • Select check-in and check-out dates
  • Select destination
  • Select number of guests
  • Select number of rooms

For each development sprint, the design team delivered:

  • Annotated wireframes for each relevant microinteraction
  • Annotated screen shots for all the screens that appeared in a microinteraction
  • A copydoc for screen text and to support Marriott’s extensive translation needs

The approach had a profound and positive effect on estimation, development and testing and made it nearly impossible for the mobile team to slide back into its traditional screen myopia.

For more about microinteractions, see Dan Saffer’s book and his site,