I love watching non-geocachers (aka muggles) try to absorb the concept of geocaching. I’m sure you’ve all heard this same reaction before: Wait. You find boxes in the woods? Well that’s just irrational.
It’s true. The things we do as geocachers may seem a little crazy at times. But good news! This Pi Day (March 14, 2015), we’re introducing a dose of rational to the irrational—all thanks to a team of designers here at Geocaching HQ.
Earlier this year, we shared an inside look at how we collect feedback from the community and how that feedback influences the tools that we make. The next step in developing a new geocaching tool is design. A team of User Experience (UX) experts at Geocaching HQ are responsible for taking the community’s feedback and thinking through everything from how the new tool will work to how the design of an emoji will help bring delight to your next geocache find.
This team was recently tasked with making the experience of finding a Mystery Cache a bit more, well, rational—and all in time for you to earn the 3.14.15 Pi Day souvenir. I sat down with Mobile UX Designer Michelle Li (Username: BlueSpaceMonkey) and UI Designer Abby Deering (Username: Abbydeer) to learn how they took the mystery out of Mystery Caches in the Geocaching Intro app.
What was the biggest challenge in designing Mystery Caches for the free Geocaching app?
Mystery Caches are a complex type of geocache. One of the biggest changes we were faced with was making Mystery Caches easy to use for geocachers and coming up with a design solution that works with all the different types of Mystery Caches.
What about the new design are you most excited to share with the community?
We are really excited that we’ve found a design solution that works with all the different types of Mystery Caches (there are so many different versions!). We feel like we were able to eliminate a barrier that previously made it difficult to enter your answer. We’re excited that we removed a challenge in the tool, leaving the challenge where it should be: in solving the Mystery. And we hope this means more geocachers will now give Mystery Caches a try!
How have your designs made finding Mystery Caches easier?
We’ve made the ability to add Solved coordinates and edit waypoints easier and more manageable for all different kinds of Mystery Caches.
Editor’s Note: You’ll see in the app that “Corrected Coordinates” are now referred to as “Solved”. This decision was made by surveying the geocaching community.
How did feedback and insight from the geocaching community enter into the design?
We brought in both potential players and experienced geocachers to our office to look at our Mystery Cache design. We had them walk through a series of tasks and even took them outside to watch them geocache with the new design. We revised our design based on their feedback.
Anything else you want geocachers to know?
We’re so excited that Mystery Caches are now available in the free app and we love making products that make geocaching easier for our community!
Unlock this latest and greatest tool for discovering Mystery Caches with Premium membership in the free Geocaching Intro app for iOS and Android. And don’t miss out on your chance to earn one of two Pi Day souvenirs by logging a “Found It” on a Mystery Cache this Saturday!
What do you want to be when you grow up? Nuclear physicist? Diplomat? Physician?
Come on, you’re selling yourself short. Be Geocacher of the Month.
Widely acknowledged as the most coveted title in the world (of geocaching), the Geocacher of the Month award is granted to one outstanding geocacher or geocaching team every month. The winner stands out as a pillar of support in their local community, and is an example to geocachers everywhere. Their contributions to geocaching run the gamut, from creating stunning caches to teaching Geocaching 101 classes to ‘caching newbies.
February’s three nominees for Geocacher of the Month could form the A-Team of geocaching. They are known by fellow geocachers in their communities as the best people to contact for geocaching advice…even if it means sacrificing a coveted FTF.
Read the profiles of this month’s three nominees, and write a supportive comment below this post describing why you think this person should be recognized.
A panel from Geocaching HQ will then use your comments to help guide the decision of which geocacher is awarded the Geocacher of the Month honor.
This geocacher from — you guessed it — Texas, is always rushing out the door to be the FTF, but won’t hestitate to help out a fellow ‘cacher along the way. If you live within 50 miles of him, he’s probably at the top of your Phone-A-Friend list.
TexasWriter has more than 10,000 finds and over 350 hides. Keeping that many hides in order is a lot of work, but TexasWriter rises to the challenge. In January, geocachers celebrated TexasWriter’s streak of 1,0001 straight days of geocaching. The widely attended event was “a testament to the impact he has had on geocaching in SE Texas.”
This geocacher has found just about 58% of the geocaches in his country. That’s quite a feat when the total number of geocaches in Hungary around is over 6000.
As a cache owner, Ramgab takes the cake. His cache series “Rowing in Budapest” consists of eleven caches accessaible only by canoe or kayak, and has been awarded over 80 favorite points in total.
Ramgab has also helped organize multiple geocaching Mega events in Hungary. As a result, the Hungarian geocaching community has grown significantly over the last few years.
This German geocaching Team has amassed hundreds of favorite points for their creative gadget caches, tricky Mystery caches, and stunning cache locations like this one, which has been featured on the geocaching Instagram page. You’ll recognize a TeamPommes cache by their signature pommes frites (french fries) page background.
They are always more than willing to help out a geocacher with a tricky puzzle, or point them in the right direction while on the hunt.
On March 14, aka Pi Day, you can earn two special souvenirs. One can be gained by attending an event. The other, by finding a Mystery Cache like this one. This Mystery Cache in particular takes you on a tour through the many art installations on and near the MIT campus. Throughout your journey, you’ll have to take a few directional readings and solve some relatively easy math. After you find this one, all you need to do is log an event for the other souvenir—and then, maybe there’s a surprise waiting for you…
“Finally! Brewer has been going to MIT for five years now and during that time he has been working to solve this. Patience, grasshopper. Well, sort of… there always seemed to be something that kept him from completing the cache. Today, he took his saved coordinates and went to GZ. His coordinates were within 6 ft. Not bad. So I guess all that time at MIT has helped. He even opened the log book. Seriously, this was a wonderful cache, A favorite in our book!” – Trail Buzzards
“Found it! Found it! Catkin is back in her office (on the campus of a fine institution…) doing the happy dance post-find, since that might have proven embarrassing at GZ. Add me to the list of seekers who did not recognize the cache and ignored it a frustratingly large number of times in search of this smiley. Fortunately I came prepared for the field work and the smiley is now mine! Cache container is in great shape, though the log is close to full. Thank you NTP for this engaging, edifying expedition!” – Catkin&Golden
“Waaa! Awesome! I finally discovered this brilliant little hide after several fruitless trips to the river (I couldn’t get the sculpture coordinates/bearings right and would wind up with a different GZ every time). What a wonderful cache– everything from the creative hide to the simple adventure-oriented puzzle to the beautiful buildings and sculptures and views. Here, have a favorite point to add to your well-deserved pile!” – Rainbow Crash
Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, just fill out this form. Thanks!
Does the thought of having to decode encrypted messages make you break out in hives? If yes, then take a deep breath and find your happy place because we have just the tips to sooth your Mystery Cache anxiety and prepare you for March 14th, 2015.
They require geocachers to solve complicated puzzles in order to decode the correct cache coordinates or crack secret clues to unlock a cache’s stash. If you haven’t encountered this kind of cache before the prospect may seem daunting, but have no fear! Mystery Caches are fun way to spice up any geocaching adventure while flexing your beefy brain muscles.
(‘Cause who wouldn’t want to be Benedict Cumberbatch?). Here are Geocaching HQ’s top tips for Mystery Caches:
Mystery caches are an excellent way to sharpen the geocaching saw. If you’re looking for a little cache-speration check out our Mystery Cache Pinterest board. Want to take all this info (and more) with you? The Geocaching Shop has just the right book for you: How To Puzzle Cache.
What you might not know is what your subconscious is trying to tell you. Whether you were digging through trackables in a bottomless lock-n-lock container, or found yourself frighteningly under-dressed for a geocaching event, your subconscious is probably trying to tell you something. Don’t worry—here are our interpretations of the 5 most common geocaching dreams.*
*And here is a grain of salt.
You’re out geocaching for days and days on end, and all you get are DNFs, even on the easiest geocaches. Each time you reach GZ you look everywhere, but the situation is hopeless… not one geocache is found before you wake up.
What it means: You might be feeling incomplete or ineffective in your geocaching of late. Think about your recent geocache finds. Have you been misinterpreting hints? Struggling to find good quality geocache swag among a sea of useless fast food meal toys? Or maybe your trackables just haven’t been getting the logs that they deserve. Whatever it is–something is missing from your experience. Figure out what it is and you might just have put a smiley on yourself. And remember, you’re not alone. Check out this DNF Pride video.
You’re on your way home from a successful geocaching outing at a really awesome geocache, when you realize you still have said geocache in your hands.
What it means: Wretched thief! Just kidding. Your subconscious might just be coveting more favorite points, and gently prompting you to hide your own geocache. If you’ve never hidden one before consider giving it a try. If your geocache hides already number in the dozens, this is your chance to access your creative side and design a cool new geocache container.
You’re geocaching deep in the woods and suddenly everything goes silent. You notice the light has faded and a strong, chilly wind has picked up. You’re miles away from civilization and your phone/GPS has just warned you that it’s losing steam. The tree cover is already making the GPS signal hard to pinpoint. You ate your last energy bar two hours ago.
What it means: It’s time to find a geo-buddy (or two or three) to go geocaching with. Sartre might say, “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company,” but geocaching was only invented after he passed so his perspective was probably deeply skewed. And besides, geocaching is more fun with friends. It’s been scientifically proven.* Check out Geocaching Events to find geocachers near you.
A new geocache was just published within a mile of your house, and you set off to find it. Just as you’re within size of GZ, you see another geocacher making his way to the geocache…and he’s moving faster than you. You try to run but your limbs feel strangely heavy, getting heavier by the second.
What it means: Your FTF (First to Find) obsession might be getting a little out of hand. It’s not all about the FTFs, even though they’re fun. Try turning your notifications off for a few days, just to see what it’s like. The goal is to reach a good balance between your day to day responsibilities and your geocaching responsibilities. Maybe 30/70.
You walk into the room at a meet-and-greet Event Cache 45 minutes late to accusing and shocked stares. Accusing, because you’re the event host. Shocked, because you’re a tad… how shall we put it?… under-dressed.
What it means: Like any good event host, you feel the pressure to make sure your guests are happy and have a good time. Sometimes, that pressure can translate into weird dreams like this one. Our recommendation? Relax. Geocachers are genetically predisposed to be awesome. Put a bunch of them together in a room and they’ll be laughing and sharing stories all day (until someone gets a new cache notification, of course).
Tell us about your geocaching dreams and nightmares in the comments below!
Hiding Your First Geocache
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