Wouter Buning
UX Designer

Mobile flight booking to the next level

A prototype for an improved online booking experience

A study project for
the University accredited professional diploma in UX Design.

The challenge of making the online booking experience of a flight even better!

Phase 1:
Understanding the problem


Applying a few familiar techniques as well as some that were new to me I gained valuable insights and a clear focus for the app. 

Mobile flight booking to the next level

Me interviewing a frequent flyer.

Depth Interviews

I conducted user interviews in order to get a better understanding of behavioural patterns and pain points during the booking process. 

And although I learned there is still room for improvement on my interview skills, I am happy with how they went and the data I got from it. Interviews always provide much context information and are rich in detail.

Mobile flight booking to the next level

The results from the survey contributed largely in making the final decision to move in a native app direction instead of a desktop web application.  

Online Survey

Additionally I conducted a short online survey to gather some statistical data on a larger number of users. I received a total of 50 responses and 44 people even filled out the few open questions. 

The main underlying questions I wanted to answer were:

  • Do people use apps or websites? Or both? When and why?
  • What are the biggest annoyances during the booking experience?
  • What do people actually use native apps for from airline companies?

Mobile flight booking to the next level

During the usability tests I observed user behaviour and took notes on mental models, pain points and best practices. 

Usability Testing

I performed 3 extensive usability tests with users from different age groups. They tested the apps of two competitors providing valuable feedback on interaction, communication and flow. 

Screening and finding participants proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought, so that took some more time than planned.

Mobile flight booking to the next level

I compared 4 well known apps to discover the good, the bad and the ugly.

Competitive Benchmarking

The observations during the usability tests were the main source of input for this benchmarking. Looking at other apps with specific questions and goals in mind really helped to discover:

  • conventions and industry standards to follow
  • inspirational design solutions 
  • opportunities for improvement

Mobile flight booking to the next level

This technique also comes with iterations. 

Affinity Diagram

To attain some structure in all the data acquired by the different research techniques this proved to me a very powerful method. 

It served me as an anchor: keeping me close to the actual research findings throughout the remainder of the project.  

I explored different groupings until this one emerged that I could build my design decisions on.

Mobile flight booking to the next level

Each step is different and results in ranging emotions. 

Customer Journey Mapping

For this project I used the journey map mainly to filter the goals, mental models and pain points of the user. 

Mapping the data from my research in this manner uncovered a few surprises for me which I also included. This overview also showed where the research data was a bit thin

Phase 2:
Solving the problem


The process of visualising the solution.

Mobile flight booking to the next level

First sketches exploring options for layout, interactions and navigational structures.

The Design objective

The outcome of all the research can be summed up in the following main objectives for the design phase:

  • Customers with a preference for desktop are more often than not surprised by the mobile app experience in terms of overview and ease of use.
  • Customers are very easily triggered (and almost suspicious by default) when they encounter features or options that may not be in their best interest.
  • When customers use a mobile app they use it for checking in and booking. Not much else.

Mobile flight booking to the next level

Usually there are more screen(states) than you think.

Flow Diagram

This is the primary use case 'Booking a flight' from start to completion. It uncovers what screens and screen states are needed to facilitate the primary flow and how they relate to each other .

The most important ideas for interaction and transition between screens and screen states are also included for later reference. 

Mobile flight booking to the next level

Quickly visualising ideas and deciding what to keep. 

Navigation Structure

The concept for navigation structure was worked out prior to  the complete interaction design to form a strong and plain basis. 

Interaction Design

Every design stage starts with pen and paper for me. For this next step towards a visual design I made presentation sketches with markers, as you can see below.

A powerful method. Not very time consuming but delivering a certain look and feel and very suitable for a low fidelity prototype. 

Mobile flight booking to the next level

The goal was to create a very clean and modern look and feel.

UI Design

In order to create a high fidelity prototype the UI of the app needed a high end visual design as well.  

I love paying attention to details, like using the logo in the step indicator. It's those little things that add some subtle finesse to the whole. 

Phase 3:
Validating the solution


To validate design choices, workflow and assumptions. 

Interactive prototype

For this project I took the opportunity to try out Axure RP as a prototyping tool. It worked out really well for me to create a high end prototype for user testing purposes. 

Prototypes always help to uncover tiny loopholes that were overlooked.

Not everything is worked out, but if you take the following scenario as a reference you should be able to click right through it:

  • Book a flight from Amsterdam to Dublin (just click on the keyboard to simulate typing)
  • Departure on March 25 – Return on March 28
  • 2 adults
  • Select the cheapest options 

Mobile flight booking to the next level

User Testing

It's always exiting to put your designs in the hands of others to see if they work and where improvement is needed. 

And afterwards prioritising all the feedback. I usually try to divide them into now, soon and maybe later. 

That's it, thanks for viewing!

With this project I achieved my Professional Diploma in UX Design by the UX Design Institute accredited by the Glasgow Caledonian University.

With great course material, super friendly support and expert mentoring I can highly recommend this to anyone looking for an internationally industry standard training in UX Design.

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