It’s Saturday.

Errand day starts off with picking up new tires for your car and ending up waiting an hour due to mixup at the shop.  After that, you cross town in search of running shoes, a pack, and a SIM card, but not only do you have to go to three different stores, two can’t help you, so you find yourself trekking all over Creation for items that should be rather simple to locate. Finally, you end with a stop at the grocery store and drag yourself through the aisles. Six hours later, not only have you spent a ridiculous amount of time, you’re completely depleted.

Now, imagine if you could just simply drive to MarketPlus, a store that supplies everything you need. You’re in and out in less than an hour, and you spend the rest of your day sitting at the park enjoying a picnic lunch and sunbathing. 

What does that feel like?

Refreshing? Easy? Relaxed? Rewarding?

No joke, this is exactly how it felt when I found Ireland’s free Wild Atlantic Way app.

Traveling and preparing for traveling often feels like the first scenario, especially when I do it every month to three months. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this life, but I only really enjoy the research process if I have the time for it and it doesn’t detract from actual experiences. As soon the app downloaded, traveling the island’s west coast simply became easier than any of my previous trips before. (And I should let you know that they don’t even know I’m writing this. I’m not being compensated. I’m just simply thrilled with this app and wanted to share.)

 

Why did it change my world…or at least my time traveling in Ireland? Four reasons.

It’s:

    1. Beautiful
    2. Easy
    3. Comprehensive
    4. And designed with the user in mind.

It’s like having your own personal tour guide of the world’s longest defined coastal touring route. This has resulted in less time spent on research and more time for actually enjoying activities and sights.

So here’s what I love about it, in a bit more detail.

 

Beautiful and Easy: Design and User Experience

1. Pictures — Immediately when you open the app, you’re greeted by gorgeous coastline photos serving as the backdrop for a clean and well-designed home page. And they’re used throughout the app, grabbing your attention, pulling you into the landscape, helping your imagination start to fantasize about standing on cliff ledges.

2. Color Choices — A monochromatic selection of sea-inspired blue-greens not only remind one of coastal adventures, but psychologically, they have a calming, inviting affect. And the white font pairs well, keeping the feeling beachy. 

3. Symbols First, I should mention the simple wave icon. Not only part of the logo, but a key identifier of not-to-be-missed sites AND a street sign identifier that has come in handy numerous times throughout the course of my excursions.

I also want to mention how elegantly the designers incorporated the shape of the logo into the design. Notice how in Discover, the coast titles are presented in a header, the bottom of which is the wave shape. A slight design element that creates a seamlessness through the app. Nicely done, there.

4. Organization/Navigation— There’s no doubt that the designers had the user experience in mind when creating this app, a consideration evident in the intuitive navigation. All of the information presented connects in a way that might mirror your thought process in the moment.  Extremely helpful.

6. Practical Use — One element I really love is that when you’re driving and you get into the proximity of a Hidden Gem, a chime dings, alerting you. Ideal for not missing some really spectacular sights off the cuff.

Also, the interactive maps that connect, if you want, to Google Maps. I use this feature constantly. When I see a place I definitely want to hit, I click on the interactive map, and it takes me to a point on my Google Maps, where I can then save a pin for the location. Because I don’t have time to see everything, this helps me custom tailor an attraction map just for me.

 

 

The Goods: Content

When you first sign into the app, you’re greeted with a rather straightforward section that explains the app, let’s you pick the language, and defines the icons you’ll use later. You’ll also learn about Passport, which you can learn more about in the FAQ section, but it’s basically what it sounds like. A cute way to track your  trip.

From that point, you’ll be greeted by the home screen consisting a list of 3 options: Discover, Nearby, and Hidden Gems.

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1. Discover — The Route itself is broken down into 5 different areas of Ireland’s West Coast. This section presents 2 to 4 of the main things to see in that area, such as the Cliffs of Moher, Bray Head, and Killary Harbour.

You can click on each location to see more, which then takes you to a short write up and a map with the located point.

Scrolling down on that page brings you to a navigation bar that includes a search bar, a map button, and a top navigation bar listing the options of possible activities in order with regards to distance. Here are the possible search categories: Things to Do, Eat and Drink, Sleep, Events, and Hidden Gems (my personal favorite).

The list offers a thumbnail picture on the left, a title of the option and a short blurb, the distance to the original point you’d chosen, and then an arrow button that will take you to a page that lists more information about that choice.

Again there is a picture, a short blurb,  contact information including phone, email, and web, and and the interactive map.

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2. Nearby — Selecting this option brings you to a beautiful page that again lists Things to Do, Eat and Drink, Sleep, Events, and Hidden Gems. Any selection here will then again take you to the list I mentioned above.

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3. Hidden Gems — This home page mirrors that of Discover, breaking down the possible locations, but this time based on counties. Each option is presented with a beautiful picture, once sentence describing the gem, and a MORE button, which then takes you to a description page like the one I mentioned in Discover.

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Behind the Scenes: Settings

In the Settings Section, accessible at all times from the main navigation bar, you’ll find a list of the following, in addition to the Discover, Nearby, Hidden Gems, and Intro we’ve already discussed.

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1. The Route — Simply a noninteractive map of Ireland, highlighting the Wild Atlantic Way Route and airports.

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2. Data Settings — You can choose a 3g/4g option, to connect with Google Maps (which you know I highly recommend), to turn on the Hidden Gem notification that serves up that chime, and a syncing frequency option.

3. FAQs — Provides not just information about the app, but more information on the Wild Atlantic Way passport.

Why I Love This App

By now, its pretty self-explanatory.

1.  It puts a lot of information in one, easy-to-process place. It shows you what’s close to either where you or certain points so you don’t have to miss out on anything.

2. It simplifies my planning process. As I’m in Ireland for 3 months, it allows me to break down my weekends (when I rent a car) into sections of activities. Though the benefits for those  in Ireland with a more truncated timeframe will find equal benefit.

3. The Wild Atlantic Way App helps me to determine what’s important and what’s not by answering most, if not all, of my questions before I’ve even asked them.

4. I know sort of what to expect when I go somewhere based on the Nearby option. Very helpful in deciding plans when food and accommodations need to be considered.

What I’d Love To See Them Add

Irish culture rests on mythology and legends, stories and poetry, tales that give meaning to cairns that would otherwise just be a pile of stones. I would love to see them add in the stories from each area, starting with the main, must-see locations. It would be great to have access to this information either when driving to the location or while there, so that you can be thinking of the story and give your experience greater meaning. Currently the app mentions legends, but you have to go look them up elsewhere. Not difficult, no, but simply more time consuming and not as seamless of a process.

Have you used this app? Or one similar? I would love to hear your experiences. What did/didn’t you like? How would you improve it?