How to make the flight experience more manageable and enjoyable for frequent travellers?
Design team of one; CalArts Capstone Project
Research, Concept development, UI/UX Design
Jan 2021 - Mar 2021
Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, MS Office
Caelum is a platform that enables users to keep track of past and upcoming trips for frequent flyers. Users can easily manage their flight and personal information, and access their travel footprint and territories visited.
1. Problem Scope
User Journey Mapping
Identify User Problems
For individual airlines and local aviation industry:
Requires multi-thread information management and attention to details
Chain of action - missing one leads to missing of the following
Constant monitoring elevates stress and attention exhaustion
Troublesome experience demotivates people from traveling
Issue in Loyalty
Difficulty in tracking flight records across different platforms
Purchase Force Decrease
Less dispensable time and energy for commercial activities
Goals and Objectives
For individual travellers
Assist trip management
Better overall experience
Rewarding customer experience
Boost commercial activity
2. Research Methodology
In order to better understand this problem and gather insightful user feedback, I tried to find out why it is frustrating, when people feel frustrated, and how people currently deal with the frustration, through survey, interview, market research and analysis.
Survey & Interview
To see if the problem is significant enough for me to take action, I made a survey when I was traveling from Shanghai to London, I passed out a SurveyMonkey on my phone, and gathered 30 responses from both airports. I also uploaded the survey form online and gathered 100 responses from self-identified frequent travellers. The demographic ranged from ages 18-60 and respondents of various gender identifications.
Most of my interviewees agree is that the process from booking flights, checking-in, going to the airport, to security check is overwhelming and not pleasing. The pain point is significant! People care to track their flights and manage the accounts, in some cases they even took matters into their own hands and built an extremely detailed excel spreadsheet. With just a small detail goes wrong, they might miss the flight.
"I really hate boarding gate change. Sometimes I am shopping and don't notice, that can cause a lot of trouble..."
"I can't find a good app that supports all my need during traveling - it's either one specific airline app or general flight tracker."
"I do not feel relaxed until I finished all the boarding processes - check-in, baggage, security, document stuff. Only when I get seated at the plane I finally get to relax."
I asked some of my friends for popular traveling apps that they usually use. I noted down the popular platforms, identified the key features I envisioned Caelum to have, and reassessed the existing platforms based on those features. Separately, these apps have functions and information that are useful for users to manage a trip, but users have to jump around several of them in order to manage one, not to mention multiple trips.
How might we make flight experience more manageable, less stressful and more rewarding?
Easier navigation to search a flight
Getting notified of lastest flight information
Link to existing airline app and auto sync data
One place for all information with a personal account
Social aspect of sharing trip and achievements
3. Design Solution
1. HMW make notifications about flight status updates?
Users are able to tap to receive alert for upcoming trips. When the bottom is active, a pop-up box appears on top of current interface to show update information.
If user is not on their phone, a notification will appear with sound to alert the user. Ideally, the notification feature could be extended to other wearable interfaces.
2. HMW minimize the required effort from user for information update, while not missing out on individual trip?
When first log-in, users will be asked to enter their government-issued ID/passport information. Ticket purchase associated with that ID will be automatically logged onto the account.
For occasional cases when users can’t find auto-updated flight information, they have the option to add trips manually from the “Upcoming trips” section.
3. HMW design the reward system to be more interesting?
To make it more engaging, users are able to access their own travel history and personal achievement in “My Record” page. Each trip adds up to the total mileage that user has travelled.
Users are able to share their record including a national badge collection system and ranking amongst friends, elevating the social element of this system.
Evaluation - OKRs Framework
Manageable, relaxed and rewarding flight experience
To ease the mental burden, we need to facilitate users to access and manage their flight and personal information easily, and access their travel footprint and territories visited.
Key Result 1
Reduce effort for manually update flight information
Key Result 2
Organized system for different categories of information
Key Result 3
Prompt notifications on time for trips updates
Key Result 4
Engage users with reward and badge system
Reflection & Takeaways
1. User research during COVID
COVID hits during the project cycle - especially when I started to conduct user research. This restriction largely inhibits in-person research methodologies, and I was faced with the challenge to transition online, which exerts influence on the scope and geographical location of target users.
2. Privacy awareness
Since Caelum is an app for information management and planning which requires personal data, the question is about how to collect information, how do we ask for permission, and above all, how to find a balance between strict business requirements and respectful design.
1. Explore data visualization UI
I believe that the stats section has a lot of room for improvement as data visualization could help users understand data at a glance (past flight stats). UI could also be more interesting/engaging with inspired micro-interactions.
2. APIs for app integration
It requires less taps for users if data from their Calendar could automatically sync with Caelum. Notifications on the lock-screen or connected wearable devices would be helpful to nudge the user to take action.
Learning & Takeaways
There are so many well-known UI patterns (such as cards, profiles, "add" buttons), it's not always feasible nor practical to create a new component just because the UI looks 'nicer'’, which I sometimes fall into coming from a visual arts background. Instead, I need to focus on breaking down existing design patterns to analyze why it works, why it doesn’t, and what I can do to take it a step further.