Geocaching Lists

How can we make Lists a more valuable experience for new and tenured members?

What exactly is Geocaching?

Understanding a niche hobby and game

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. (Source: Wikipedia)

In other words, Geocaching in a lot of senses is like real life treasure hunting. Players are also presented usually with a riddle or hints per geocache in order to locate it. All geocaches and the contents are user-created.

After I understood how the game works by finding geocaches with myself and my colleagues, and the game rules, I wanted to understand the players who were passionate about the game.

Who am I designing for?

I developed these categories based off prior research and my own user interviews. Coming up with these categories helped me stay accountable to how people may feel navigating through the Lists experience and keep track of specific use cases.

Free "green" members

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These are defined as users who are new to the game, and have less than 5 cache finds. They might not know that List Hub exists due to paywall, but they are able to see other players’ List Details, whether or not they are aware of that.

"What premium features would be useful for me?"

"I want an easier entry to try before I buy."

"What are my possibilities interacting with my own content?"

"How do I get involved with other people’s content?“

"Geocaching is hard.”

How can we make Lists easier to consume?

Free experienced members

These members are able to see list details, but when they attempt to create a pocket query, there is a paywall.

The only point of interaction here is creating a PQ. Their concept of “List Hub” is potentially going to another user’s profile and going to “Lists”.

“How is this new list more useful for me?”

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Premium members/Expert users

Photo credit: NICO BHLR

“Please don’t take away features.”

“Make this a little easier for me to interact with my own content.”

Interestingly enough, we found that there are a large number of premium members who are not using Lists. We suspected that perhaps the discoverability of premium features were not surfaced enough.

"What features can I look forward to enhancing my geocaching experience?"


These members have the ability to support and/or delete and monitor bad behavior (profane titles, images, etc.) that are public facing along with all the other features that premium members enjoy.

We had to consider that there were probably features and functions that we needed to display for these individuals.

Looking at past research

I read a fantastic in-depth paper from a higher level perspective to understand further the motives and interests that hooked players from the start up to the level of experience they have now. I believe this would help me understand why and how they pick out geocaches that they plan on looking for.

General demographic breakdown:

There were also past studies conducted on users who were remote or even out of the country using going through their geocaching browsing experience.

While digging deep into a whole breadth of information, I also spoke with players in the lobby as well as my fellow colleagues that played that game on a regular basis. All of this information gathering gave me a pretty good baseline as to how I wanted to conduct further research centering on the psyche of creating Lists of geocaches.

What we were working with

I had to understand the UI landscape of the current List experience. This helped me understand how many high level user flows that we needed to examine, and other areas within Geocaching that Lists was impacting.

List hub

The list hub was optimized to not only fit for desktop experiences, but once it is opened up on a smaller port size like a mobile phone, it scaled very easily.

For context, I also found out that this was the most updated area of the Lists experience. Though it was updated, there were areas of concern when I familiarized myself with it.

List details

Once a user navigates into a List, they are brought to the legacy view of a List's details. As we can see here, aesthetically speaking it did not match the same patterns as the List Hub.

We discovered lists as long as 3000+ geocaches! Imagining how a geocacher would look for geocaches on another person's list or their own would be quite the hassle.

Heat mapping

Analyzing the data

Feature tracking

I read a fantastic in-depth paper from a higher level perspective to understand further the motives and interests that hooked players from the start up to the level of experience they have now. I believe this would help me understand why and how they pick out geocaches that they plan on looking for.

Card sorting

Analyzing the data

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Figuring out what our main categories were

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After conducting the card sorting activity with a grand amount of support, I felt that I had sufficient amount of data in how to properly group together functions and categories and apply them to my wireframes.

Vote vote vote

What do the people say?

We came up with 6 choices to present to the company as whole. We granted each person 3 dots to mark their favorite layout based off functionality and aesthetic. The mockups were printed and placed near the cafeteria to generate as much traffic as possible. Participants were also allowed to give their feedback via color coded sticky notes. As it is naturally a FUBU (for us by us) type of product, we figured this would be the best sample size to utilize to make an informed decision on a wireframe.


As a team we spent numerous sessions interacting with users of all levels via different mediums such as forums, in person, going on geocaching expeditions, over coffee, etc. We compiled narratives, bucketed major opinons and overall came up with two major demographics to help us with product and design direction.


How to execute a whole revamp

We took an extensive look at every nook and cranny that Lists has touched in the Geocaching environment as a team. Once we laid it all out, we prioritized what areas to tackle first in order to give our players the most cohesive experience possible. Our more than awesome product manager led a war room that allowed us to take each aspect of the product and the data collected to properly conduct the rollout.

High fidelity mockups