cover image Dark prototype Light prototype


Imagine you are a student going home from the library. You open a navigation app and it suggests that you rush to catch the last train or walk through an alley to take a bus. It’s 11pm. What would you do?

This is not a hypothetical situation but a scenario faced by multiple female passengers daily. In fact, a lot of navigation apps tend to prioritize efficiency over the potential danger a user can face when using the suggested routes at night. While there are apps that warn users of areas to avoid, not many apps show where users can go to if they feel unsafe (especially at night).

To fill this gap, I created Firefly. It is a mobile navigation app that highlights places which are still in operation (e.g. restaurants, shops, and convenient stores). These places provide a bright and safe space for people to seek shelter or help. Users can also text and share their GPS location with people they trust, get reminders of their travel schedule, and switch between light and dark mode. With these functions, Firefly can provide a safety net for solo travelers, no matter day or night.

My roles


Methods/ Tools

UX research

  • User surveys

  • User stories

  • Personas

  • Google Form

  • research, reviews

  • interviews

UX/UI design

  • Sketches & Wireframes

  • Usability tests

  • Mockups

  • Prototypes

  • pencil sketches, Figma

  • guided and unguided tests

  • Figma, Illustrator

  • Figma, Illustrator, Photoshop

Visual design

  • Color & Typography

  • Logo design

  • Material Design Guidelines

  • Figma

Motion Design

  • Launch screen animation

  • Illustrator, After Effects

Market research

  • Competitive Analysis

  • App store reviews, interviews


Late-night home-goers


“There was a time when I suspected that I was being followed at night. But since I was not familiar with that area, I didn’t know where to hide to call for help.”


“There were quite a few times that I looked up a route only to discover that I had missed the last bus/train and had to take other options (e.g. walk home at night/ take a taxi).”


“The map is only available in light mode. Reading it at night hurts my eyes.”

Tourists/ Business travelers


“I’m not familiar with the public transport schedule of the country I visit and I have to be constantly aware of the time as I can’t be late for the next meeting/ the place where I made reservations. This adds stress to the trip.”


User research


To understand the goals and frustrations faced by users of navigation apps, I created a survey with 2 parts.

Part 1: Information useful to the users

Late-night home-goers

What types of information are essential to you when traveling home at night?

Tourists/ Business travelers

Which navigation tools are helpful to you when traveling to a foreign city/country?


  • Users find: (1) public transport schedule, (2) virtual map, and (3) journey reminders/ notifications on the navigation app necessary.

  • Users also want to call or text people they trust to let them look into the user’s immediate situation.These functions can make the user feel safe and connected.

But this is only what people who are in a distance can do at best. If we should provide better support and assistance to the user, we need to look into the potential danger the user may face and the potential shelters the user can use in their immediate physical location.

Part 2: Strategies for ensuring a safe and efficient journey

Late-night home-goers

When you feel unsafe (e.g. think you might be followed), what would you do?

Why did you choose this method?

home goers reasons

Tourists/ Business travelers

Which navigation tools are helpful to you when traveling to a foreign city/country?

Why did you choose this method?

tourist reasons


  • For both groups, the go-to method to cope with danger is to find the nearest shop, restaurant, or convenient store and stay there. Another popular choice is to call or text people you trust or call the emergency number. The main reason is because busier places (e.g. stores, busier streets) are harder for stalker to locate/harm a target.

  • For tourists/ business travelers, the time zone of the place they visit and the time zone of their home countries might differ drastically. Since their family and friends are so far from them, popping into the nearest shop/ restaurants make the most sense.


Based on the demographic info of my respondents, I created 2 personas.

persona Hannah

Research student, 25


She is a diligent research student. Most of her days, she works in the library until 10pm. Occasionally, she enjoys socializing with her friends at theatres and bars too.


  • Some routes suggested by the navigation app include dark alleys. It’s not very practical following these suggestions at night.

  • There was a time when I thought I was being followed. But I’m not familiar with that area and couldn’t find a safe place to make a call.

  • The map is only available in light mode and it hurts my eyes to read it at night.


  • I wish I can choose to exclude alleys and quiet areas in my search of routes at night.

  • I want the map to show places which are still open so that if I feel unsafe, I can stay there and make calls.

  • I wish there is a night mode of the map.

“Having a reliable navigation app is crucial to commuting safely at night.”

persona Ryan

Business traveler, 36


He is a manager who overlooks businesses in other countries for the company. In his free time, he also enjoys solo traveling and learns about different cultures as a local.


  • In some business trips, I have meetings at different locations on the same day. The navigation app will not notify you of accidents/ delays in public transports and sometimes, I arrived almost late for meetings.

  • When I travel for leisure, I tend to explore different places until late at night and sometimes, it is hard to find a restaurant which is still open nearby.

  • When I use the map at night, I need a light filter.


  • I want to be notified of accidents on the road related to my journey and changes of schedule in public transport.

  • I want to see the operating hours of places immediately from my search.

  • I wish there is a night mode to the virtual map.

“A navigation app can do more than just planning a journey. If developed well, it can work like a personal organizer or digital assistant.”

User Stories

The goals and frustrations mentioned above can be summarised as follows:

Late-night home-goers


I want to follow a safe route home where I can avoid alleys and quiet areas.


I want to be able to text and call people I trust when I feel unsafe.


I want to see on the map places which are still open at night so that I can stay there and make calls to people whom I trust.


I want to read the map in dark mode.

Tourists/ Business travelers


I want to know the convenient stores or restaurants that are still open at night.


Since I am not familiar with the public transport schedule of the foreign country, I want to know how much time I should reserve for traffic.


I want to get reminders on when I need to leave point A in order to arrive at point B on time especially when I have meetings at different locations on the same day.


I want to be able to switch between a light mode and a dark mode.

Competitive Analysis

To understand how to position Firefly in the market, I looked at the strengths and the limitations of two popular navigation apps (“Citymapper” and “Google Maps”) and two personal safety apps (“Save & the City” and “Circle of 6”).

citymapper logo


g maps logo

Google Maps

safe n the city logo

Safe & the City

circle of 6 logo

Circle of 6

Can the user see reviews & warnings for different areas?

cross cross tick cross

Can it locate the user's GPS?

tick tick tick tick

Can the user send the GPS to others via the app?

cross tick cross tick

Can it show the public transport schedule by a particular departing time?

tick tick cross cross

Can it help the user plan a route?

tick tick cross cross

Can the user receive reminders on the journey?

cross tick cross cross

Can the map show places which are still open?

cross cross cross cross


Navigation apps tend to prioritize efficiency over safety. But for someone traveling at night, this is not always the best option.

Quite a number of personal safety apps aim to warn the user to avoid “dangerous” areas. While this function may enhance the user’s safety, it could also be misused to incite racial prejudice.

When the user is alone on the street at night, it is more helpful to point out places which can provide a temporary “shelter”.

As a result, the map of Firefly will highlight “safe places” which are still open on the map. These include convenient stores, shops and restaurants as they have staff and security cameras in operation. This can prevent stalkers from approaching the user and thus, can provide a safe space for the user to stay and make calls if needed.

Sketches & Wireframes


ff sketches


Light mode:

ff wireframes

Dark mode:

ff wireframes

User Testing of Wireframes

In the test, I asked participants to describe what they thought the pages were about and explained how to navigate to different pages.

What I've learned:

Planning a route V.S. Searching a location

What if the user just wants to look up the stores or restaurants nearby a hotel or a train station? Asking users to enter a starting point and a destination assumes they are planning a route. But it is not always the case. Sometimes, they just want to check the stores nearby a place.

show a route


arrow left to right show a spot


Revised version:The revised version allows users to look up a location before deciding to plan a route.


Based on the revised wireframes, I created a mockup. Here are some of the pages:

ff mockup

User Testing of Mockups

What I've learned:

1. Minimize other items to maximize map coverage

Some users pointed out that there is too much information listed at the top navigation. The colored dots which are used for indicating different categories (e.g. shops, restaurants, convenient stores, etc.) require additional cognitive load from the user.

mockup cluttered

Instead of showing all those information, users want to see more of the map.

cluttered top nav


arrow left to right clear layout


Revised version: I moved the method of transportation and the steps to the floating buttons on the map. They are semi-transparent so that it is not entirely covering the screen. At the same time, the top section is less cluttered and the map can now take up more space on the screen.

2. Color contrast in dark mode

At first, I used #121212 as the background color (except for the map page) as it is a recommended dark mode base color for Material Design. However, it blends in with the status bar and the bottom navigation.

color blend

Also, the strong color contrast between the background and the words can make reading the screen tiring.

darker shade


arrow left to right lighter shade


Revised version: I adjusted the background color to a slightly lighter shade (#303030) so that the status bar and the bottom navigation are now separated from the content. The color contrast is not as strong as the previous one but it is still easy to read in dark environment.

What surprised me:

Dark mode V.S. Light mode

Some users find the mockup insufficient to demonstrate how this app is especially helpful to tourists/ business travelers. Apart from its journey planning function, the app does not seem to respond to all the problems listed above.

Revised version: In addition to the dark mode, I created a light mode which depicts the scenario of a traveler using the app to get notification reminders on the departing time for his journey.

Dark mode:

dark mode

Light mode:

light mode


Launch animation

To create dynamics for the logo, I created a launch animation:

launch animation


The colors I chose are primarily dark grey, yellow, and greyish white. These colors blend in well with both the dark mode and the light mode.

brand colors


For the brand type, I chose Raleway. The rounded nature of the type complements the dots and round buttons on the map. It is only used in the brand name. All other text are in Roboto as it is a standard Material Design font. When reading the screen in dark mode, it is best to have a font which is highly legible and familar.

brand type

Interactive Prototype

User: Late-night home-goer

1. Switch to dark mode

The user can switch to dark mode when using the map in dark environment.

switch to dark mode

2. Planning a route

Places which are open (as shown in colored dots) are updated according to the route.

search route dark

3. Broadcasting one's live GPS location

Users can share one's live GPS location (together with an optional message) to people they trust.

broadcast gps

4. Texting

Users can send text messages and can quickly switch to sharing their location via the "Broadcast" button.


User: Tourists/ Business Travelers

1. Planning a route

Places which are open (as shown in colored dots) are updated according to the method of travel and the time of the day.

search route light

2. Setting notification reminders

Users can set notification reminders on when to leave in order to arrive at the destination on time.

notification later reminder

3. Switch between mode

Finally, users can switch to dark mode whenever they like.

light to dark

To learn more, click on the prototypes below:

Dark prototype Light prototype


As a person who enjoys traveling (and occasionally, solo traveling), I sometimes worried that it is unsafe to explore a city at night. In fact, such concerns also occur among late-night home-goers.

When facing danger at night, knowing where you can stay safely (even for just a while) is crucial. That's why I was eager to create an app that can solve these problems, and potentially, fill the gap in the current navigation app market. Together with notification reminders, this app is meant to help both solo travelers and late-night home-goers.

If I had time, I would combine "Call" and "Text" into a "Contact" button to save space for a "Record" button. In case the user is being followed, recording the situation (and streaming it people the user trust) may fear the stalker away. Visual evidence can also help identify the stalker.