Here’s some coursework from my Professional Diploma in UX Design, which I carried out over the 11 projects that follow.
The task was to research, design & create a prototype for a new airline app, focussing specifically on the flight booking process (how users search for, find, book & pay for flights).
I’ve chosen in this case to design the app for mobile for a few reasons:
– Firstly, I have previously worked for two holiday companies, one of which (Crystal Ski Holidays) had a very useful, easy to use app that I was happy to direct users to. In fact, I used it all the time while working as it helped customers greatly throughout their journey, even after the booking stage. The second company (Canadian Affair) did not have an app and their website was a nightmare to navigate – this provoked a lot of customer complaints and so I feel that from this experience I’m familiar with many of the problems faced and have my expectations of some things that may come up during research.
– Secondly, from past experience as a user I have found many travel apps to be unintuitive, cluttered or more time consuming than they should be to use, I’m hoping to find some solutions to help with this.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that there are often a number of secondary features in these apps which users want to use post-booking, however more than often their inclusion results in making the whole booking process cumbersome and stressful. These post-booking stages are worth noting but are not what I will be focusing on in this project (not part of my brief).
Project 1 – Usability Testing
I carried out usability tests for two airline apps (EasyJet & BA) with the aim of finding out how users might book their flights using them. I wanted to discover what about them was appealing to users and what wasn’t.
I looked at several different apps but picked these two in particular for a few reasons.
– They had a lot of differences between each other at each stage of the booking process, meaning that the user had to make different decisions when using each
– While both had their faults, in my opinion there were also very good features or sections that I might look to borrow from at a later point. Before doing so though, I had to ratify my assumptions through other users
– I had recently used the Easyjet app to book a trip and to be honest it had left me quite frustrated. I wanted to explore it further and try to find some solutions to the problems I’d experienced first hand
My objectives are detailed further in the documents below:
And here are the tests – they took a little longer than I had planned but were very beneficial and provided lots of information:
What surprised me most in this test was that right away the user ran into problems, as it took over a minute and a half for her to find the option to book a flight.
The user may have been nervous about being filmed or felt slightly uncomfortable in using someone else’s phone, but the option to book a flight should still have been blatantly obvious. It’s quite standard to have this bottom navigational bar and it just shows the effect that the cluttered UI has on the user. It also demonstrates the importance of big, bold buttons, unlike those used in EasyJet’s app.
In this example, it’s clear that the users’ needs have not been the primary focus for EasyJet, as they attempt to push other products on them. In this case, it has not sat well – it’s causing frustration and wasting her time.
In comparison, upon opening this app, the user can see what she’s looking for straight away.
The button’s nice and bold (though I don’t agree with the blue button on the blue background), its placement on the page gives it priority over other features and there’s not a lot on the page to distract her from it.
One thought I do have on this is that because the primary function of the app is to search and book flights, why not have the user begin there/ save them the step of clicking ‘book a flight’ altogether,
One feature that I had assumed would be included in both apps but which was not, would be the ability to sort results by price, travel time or flight duration. This could really help to simplify things for the user, if they were to be presented with multiple choices.
Both test subjects normally use a mediator site such as Skyscanner or Expedia to gather their initial research/ compare flights available to them. They need this reassurance that they are booking the most suitable option – they can’t get this from an airline-owned app of course as they will only advertise their own flights.
After researching they then proceed to book their flights via the airline rather than on the mediator site, mainly because it feels more ‘trustworthy’.
It also seems in both cases that their booking process consists of using both the app and the website. Research is done using apps, before booking on the website. Post booking, the app is used for things like tickets.
The thing that probably stood out the most in this test was the quality of feedback, or the difference between BA and EasyJet in that regard.
Both BA and EasyJet used a similar date picker calendar, which in actual fact required the same input from its’ user to progress to the next stage. So, there should have been no problem here, you would think.
However, where the user was guided through the process in the Easyjet app, BA proved much less intuitive.
With EasyJet, the user clicks a date, it is highlighted and their selected date populates at the top to show this. This also serves to bring our attention to the ‘Returning, Select Date’ text, which is also at the top of the screen and is in its’ default state. From this, the user knows that he is expected to select the return date on the same screen, which he does. After which, a call to action button appears, signifying that he can complete the process, which he does.
When using BA’s app, he selects ‘outbound date’ and is taken to the calendar date picker. He then picks his date and is given no feedback whatsoever. Watching, it was very noticeable that he did instinctively look for feedback and ends up clicking the tick at the top of the screen, which has actually been there the whole time. This sends him back to the search screen, where his selection appears on both the outbound & inbound dates. Next, he clicks ‘to’, and enters a different date to return. There’s no feedback again and so he clicks the tick and continues.
As there was nothing to indicate that he should select both dates on the same screen, the user has ended up selecting only one date. This would have been so easy to make clear with just a couple of ‘confirm dates’ buttons or some kind of feedback more descriptive than a tick.
Project 2 – Depth Interview
The aim of my depth interview was to try to get a deeper understanding of users’ goals when booking flights.
I wanted to focus on the context of use – how and why they used their chosen method to book. I aimed to find out what kind of apps and websites were used throughout the process and how long the whole process took.
As well as finding out what worked for them, I also wanted to discover what difficulties or problems users had faced in past experiences.
Once again, he uses a comparison site and likes to book using a computer rather than an app.
I was happy to discover Momondo through this interview, which was a company I wasn’t familiar with and ended up doing more research into. They do have some really good features that might be worth looking into further.
He also mentions that he finds booking holidays for groups of people quite stressful. I can certainly relate to this, it can be hard to communicate ideas and findings from various sources to multiple people. I think that it’s something that should definitely be explored, and that I’m going to have another look into personally in a future project.
Project 3 – Online Survey
I carried out an online survey, with the intention to gather a large collection of responses. The aim here was to find how the majority of people book, the most common problems they face and get an understanding of how they feel about the overall process.
From conducting my usability tests I found that my interviewees preferred to book using the website, rather than the app – the online survey reaffirmed this once more. There weren’t too many shocks, people dislike being bombarded with adverts and often find the pricing confusing/ think they are being tricked into paying more than originally advertised.
It’s really important in my design to make the prices clear and when something is going to bring the prices up, make this obvious.
Project 4 – Competitive Benchmarking
Project 5 – Affinity Diagram
Project 6 – User Journey Map
Project 8 – Flow Diagram
Project 10 – Define Navigation
Project 12 – Interaction Design
Project 14 – Prototype for mobile
Please click the button below to view my high fidelity prototype:
Project 16 – Wireframes