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Local Hero App

A research-led design sprint into how we can help improve the quality of life for our residents by looking into the current NSW livability index and community landscape.


Through synthesising insights and problem-solving our team created a concept loyalty app for Destination NSW to build a sense of community and ways to better cater to its locals.

My role: synthesise data, generate ideas and create design sketches and solutions.

The Challenge

Destination NSW is the lead government agency for NSW tourism, due to the pandemic the focus has been directed to making Sydney a more livable location for its own residents.

Destination NSW has asked three UX Designers to develop and deliver initiatives that will drive visitor growth throughout the State and achieve a goal of tripling expenditure within the State's visitor economy by 2030.

Destination NSW is looking for ideas on what can be done to better cater to its locals - particularly in relation to promoting its amenities, culture and the arts.

& synthesis

Survey Insights

We surveyed 24 people to help us understand what users valued most in their neighbourhood, what they like to do in their spare time and how connected they feel to their local communities.


of people value restaurants and cafes in their neighbourhood

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“Meeting new people”

“Eating and drinking in independent businesses”

“Knowing people e.g. the merchants”

“Supporting local cafes”

“Knowing people in my community”

“Feeling connected, volunteering and going to community events”

“Having a local; Supporting local businesses”

We asked our users what motivates them to be a regular customer


Quality product




Building relationships


Loyalty program

mentioned people and customer service

Interview Insights

We conducted 8 interviews and discovered 2 key insights.

People like to support local businesses and value having a connection with the owner

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People wanted to get involved in their community but finding time was a challenge

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We created a primary and secondary archetype based on our insights to understand our users' goals, needs, pains, behaviours and values.

P3 Destination NSW - Busy Neighbour Persona.jpg
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How Might We...

Make it easier for people to support local businesses and connect with their community.

Our primary research did not lead to a clear design solution. The problem was too broad and we had trouble understanding how a large organisation like Destination NSW could better cater to its local residents and drive expenditure growth.

Understanding Destination NSW

We dwelled deeper into understanding Destination NSW through their website and based on our findings, we recognised that the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for the travel industry due to the pandemic. Sydney livability index has fallen, and it is prevalent we shift our focus to the residents of NSW. From this year's Sydney Visitor Profile we found 3 key insights:

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72% of visitors came from within NSW

  • Their main activity was to dine in local restaurants and cafes

  • As well as, visiting and staying with friends or relatives

These insights have led to two main business goals​

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Build the brand

To develop a strong sense of local pride to turbo-charge economic recovery​

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Showcase our strengths

Focus on existing strengths by supporting local businesses to enhance the quality of visitor experience

The changes Destination NSW makes today will foster a sense of community and connectedness and improve the lives of its residents, better cater to its locals and impact what people will remember it as in the future.

Competitive & Comparative Analysis
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We found a lot of websites promoting local events, restaurants & cafes.


  • Mainly targeted at tourists, and not promoting community events/opportunities

  • Information not related to specific location and neighbourhood guides were not comprehensive

  • No option to remember your neighbourhood and

  • No option to personalised a list of events and restaurants

  • Broadsheet gives a great backstory on the cafe/restaurant - can search by location and filter

  • Timeout has the future shapers section but doesn’t give much information on how you can support or get involved


We didn’t want to create just another device to promote local restaurants and cafes in Sydney but a personalised app tailored to your location 

Brainstorming Ideas
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We converged as a team, explored ideas together and discussed what would meet our users' needs and business goals, we concluded that the local loyalty cards/reward scheme idea was most aligned with our research.

  • Allowing Destination NSW to build a brand that makes residents feel more involved and connected to their community.

  • Giving people a quick and simple way to find restaurants in their neighbourhood and support their community.

  • Supporting local businesses by letting people understand their backstory and a way for users to get to know them and become regular customers.

Meet our MVP: Local Hero 
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In light of the global pandemic, where many businesses are shutting down, the Local Hero app can simultaneously help keep these small businesses afloat and build a human-scale circular economy. 


Our solution was to build a community wide loyalty app, which allows users:


  • to shop at independent businesses within their specified locality

  • rack up rewards for themselves

  • help people in the neighbourhood

  • help to fund community projects

We agreed the solution was best suited to a mobile app as it provided a device base authentication sign up process that links your account to your residential area and easy implementation of location services and notification.

Users use the power of their purchase at businesses within the scheme, when a spend of $100 has been achieved, Destination NSW, fund a $5 voucher, which can be directed towards a project, given to a neighbour or used by yourself.

We suggested rolling out the MVP to a single suburb first (Marrickville). In order to test the solution and receive feedback before further expanding to other suburbs across Sydney and potentially NSW as a whole.

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Main Features

Onboarding & Sign Up

Introducing the App to first time users to highlight the benefits before asking them to sign up.

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Exploring the app

  • Users can view projects they can contribute to and become actively involved within their community.

  • Local businesses that have signed up with Destination NSW are listed on the app, you can get to know the owner, and find a link to their menu, website and location map for easy access. 

  • Every user has a unique barcode to pay at restaurants, it allows them to top up their Local Hero Card and view their recent transactions.

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Redeeming the voucher

  • Users receive a $5 voucher for every $100 spent on the app, which can be directed towards a project, given to a neighbour or credited to your local hero card balance.

  • From the home page, you can quickly see your card balance, the amount to spend till your next voucher and what you have donated your voucher towards.

  • A pop-up congratulation modal will allow you to choose how you would like to redeem your voucher.

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How does our solution help our archetype

From our research, the word community was interpreted differently by our users, they valued different things but one thing they all valued was the connection with people. Whether it be connecting with a neighbour or a business owner, our users wanted to be more actively involved and be able to easily contribute to social initiatives without taking up too much of their time and effort.

Our team could have created a simple loyalty reward app, but to answer our business goals and users' needs, we included the option to donate and promote local spending to support the local economy and make residents see and feel like they are directly contributing to their community.


This circular spending module will ensure a thriving neighbourhood that will continue to boost expenditure and promote visitor growth as amenities, culture and business are continually improved.

The Local Hero App will enhance the community experience of residents, support the Australian economy by promoting local spending which in turn reduces carbon footprint and collectively creates a new and improved brand for Destination NSW.

The possibilities are endless

We would adopt a "build - measure - learn" approach to evaluate the MVP, the feedback received from the first rollout would inform things that need to be added, removed or amended. 

From our usability testing, some features and functionality that could potentially be added include: 

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Once the app is in place, the possibilities for expansion are endless:

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This concept app project was my first time working as a team and I had a lot of fun collaborating and thinking of ideas together. We all played to our strengths and had strong communication between us.

With quite a broad brief, we spent the majority of our two-week sprint on research to really understand and empathise with our users and the business; this was key in creating an effective solution.

Our creativity and cheerful conversation led to an explosion of ideas, we knew we had to start small with an MVP and created a rollout plan that included engagement with the council, business onboarding and marketing. 

I learnt that the solution ended up very complicated if it was to be implemented and would need to take into account the technical side of things as well as budget and project management. 

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