Enhancing the Skyscanner Mobile App Experience – Design Sprint Retrospective
In the last 2 weeks, I was tasked to work in a team of 4, which consists of Joelle, Shawn, Joshua and myself. The objective was to design a solution based on the opportunities we had identified within an existing mobile app. We were free to pick any UX tools taught in class and this was a great opportunity to put all that we had learn into good use.
Enhancing the Skyscanner Mobile App Experience
We chose the Skyscanner mobile app as our client for this design sprint. Since travel planning requires a lot of effort and is also an activity that is quickly becoming mobile, a rich and frictionless experience is critical for users.
Though our initial worries were that it’s difficult to improve the Skyscanner app since it’s already very well designed, we still took on this design challenge and made it our own as we believe UX is a continuous process, so surely there must be something we could do to enhance the experience.
Design Challenge: “How can we improve the Skyscanner mobile app to give users an engaging and frictionless experience when they make their travel plans?”
1. PROJECT PLANNING
To make sure everyone’s expectations are aligned, we created a project plan to narrow our focus on the key UX tools that we would use for this project. We also listed the key activities, milestones and each team member’s responsibilities at each project stage. This helps us to make sure everyone is on the same page, thereby keeping the project on track.
Our project plan is roughly summarised below:
Day 1: Project Planning
Day 2: User Interview Planning
Day 2–3: Conduct User Interviews
Day 4: Affinity Mapping and Persona Creation
Day 5: User Journey Mapping + Sketch key features
Day 6: Prototyping + Presentation Flow
Day 7: Prototyping + Usability Test Planning
Day 8: Usability Testing
Day 9: Discussion of Usability Test results + Prototype Iteration
Day 10: Finalise Prototype + Rehearse Presentation
Day 11: Presentation
You can view our detailed project plan in the link below.
2. USER INTERVIEWS
Our first UX process was to conduct user interviews, so we got together to discuss the criteria of our target audience and the research coverage. We decided to interview 11 users aged 18–45 years old, who have used a travel mobile app in the past. We split the interviews amongst each team member so all of us are involved in the process and can contribute in the affinity mapping exercise later.
In the user interview, we covered the following areas:
- When and how users use travel apps: To identify users’ context and motivation in using travel apps
- What travel apps do users use: Other than Skyscanner, are there other competitor apps they use and for what purpose?
- What pain points they encounter in travel app usage: To identify opportunities to improve the experience and delight users
- Quick usability test: To find out what is the current flow of activities for both flight and hotel booking and see if users encountered any major obstacles in the process
3. AFFINITY MAPPING & PERSONA DEVELOPMENT
Within 2 days, we had our findings and proceeded to use affinity mapping to work out the common themes across users.
From the affinity mapping exercise, we had the following “I statements”:
- I want relevant search result. This was particularly about the price alert feature. Users were annoyed that the price alert notification comes on every now and then but doesn’t show a significant price drop that meets their needs. This suggests they usually have a rough budget in mind, so showing only relevant notifications when the price drops below a certain level would be more helpful.
- I want to book hotel with confidence. Most users associate Skyscanner with flights and not hotels, so Skyscanner is losing out on hotel bookings with this brand association. Also, some users mentioned Skyscanner only provide overall ratings which isn’t enough to give contextual information on users’ actual hotel experience.
- I want to book flight and hotel quickly and cheaply. Users just want to find the best deals with minimum effort.
- I want alternative suggestions for better deals. Users want to know where and when is the cheapest to travel. If the results returned are too ridiculous, they often end up at the competitor site or just choose not to book completely. This suggests Skyscanner needs to do a little more than just return flight or hotel results based on what it is told.
- I want to see all the information clearly. This came from users who were particularly from the younger age group 18–25 years old. They tend to switch from their mobile device to their laptop so they can open multiple tabs and compare prices across various travel sites. They want to be able to see information clearly before making their final travel booking.
We found that most of our respondents have similar goals, in that they are all looking for the best flight and hotel deals but are often spending too much time and effort to do so.
However, one key differentiator was in how they behave — we have 1 group that only uses the mobile app to do all their travel planning and booking, and another group who tended to switch between mobile and laptop for the same activities.
With these findings, we decided to create 2 key personas: Jason and Mandy.
Here’s a short summary on Jason and Mandy:
- Jason is a busy manager and wants to find the best deals when he travels. However, he doesn’t have enough time to do a throughout research on flights and hotels and as a result he often worries he isn’t able to locate the best deals. He primarily uses his smartphone in everything he does.
- Mandy is a budget conscious student and is always on the lookout for the best travel deals. She likes to compare prices across various travel websites just so she can secure the best deals. This is also the reason why she switches between devices, moving from a quick search on her smartphone, to a thorough search on her laptop where she can open multiple tabs to do a detailed comparison before she making her final travel booking.
Since Jason is the primary mobile app user, and there are also some overlap between Jason and Mandy’s needs, we decided to focus on solving for Jason’s needs in this design sprint. We hope to solve for Mandy in the next design sprint.
4. JASON’S CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP & FINAL FEATURES TO DEVELOP
Our team met up the next day in school and we used Jason’s persona to map out the journey in which he would undertake from travel searching to travel booking. We had a lot of fun drawing on the white board and rationalising each step Jason takes, including the broad process, key activities, his emotions and key concerns at each stage.
Perhaps the most important part of the journey mapping process was to identify Jason’s key concerns. From this exercise, we were able to work out where the opportunity lies and what potential solution we could create to resolve Jason’s concerns. At the end of the journey mapping process, we decided to create 5 features for Jason in the improved Skyscanner mobile app.
Our team was quite comfortable to work on all 5 features so we decided there was no need to prioritise any. We all went home that night to brainstorm and sketch our own vision of the solutions and got this ready for discussion the next day.
I volunteered to beautify the personas and Jason’s journey map so I could work on my design skills. I also got both Joelle and Shawn’s input on my designs. They were both very kind and always reminded me to align my design because clients tend to be very particular about it. It was definitely frustrating initially but I tried my best to meet their expectations and slowly grew to be more open to criticisms.
5. SKETCHING DESIGNS
We presented our rough sketches to each team member but had to time box the discussion because we haven’t started on the presentation flow yet. It probably wasn’t the best use of everyone’s time if we were all stuck with prototype design. Hence, we decided Joelle and Shawn would lead the prototype design and Joshua and myself would work on the remaining tasks. I volunteered on the presentation flow and Joshua worked on crafting the usability test while we waited for the prototype to be ready. Although we were all working on different parts of the project, we all tried to keep each other updated on our own progress.
6. USABILITY TESTING & DESIGN ITERATION
After the features were developed, Joelle and Shawn brought us through the prototype so we could provide our feedback before the usability test. Joshua also briefed us on the 5 usability test scenarios and after a couple of trial runs, we set off to run our usability test in the evening.
In this usability test, we had to get our users to do these tasks on both the prototype and the original Skyscanner app in order to measure any behavioural change. Our key metrics were to measure task success and task time, so I created a calculation sheet in Google doc that automatically calculates the average change in task success and task time, once each team member enters details such as start time and end time for each task.
After the usability test sessions were completed, we came together to discuss our findings and proceeded to iterate our design based on the following issues identified:
- Hotel booking looks a lot like promotion copy so users don’t want to select it. In the revised version, we had to make it less ad-like and we also added the Skyscanner logo so users know the copy is coming from Skyscanner.
- Users don’t understand the flexi-booking label so they don’t intuitively click on the blue bar to open it. They also don’t understand what the +/- means, and some mistook it for number of stopovers instead of travel days. In the revised version, we decided to just show the option directly and also added “day” beside the +/- sign so users know what the +/- refers to.
- Users expect to see real life photos submitted by travelers to show their hotel experience and not just plain text in the user review. In the revised version, we added photos from travelers to provide richer context on their hotel experience.
7. FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS PROJECT
I was a little nervous at the start since this is my first team project in a really long time. I’m used to working alone in my previous research role as I was the subject matter expert (SME), and the only people I had to account to was my boss and my clients. But I know this would be an important learning experience so I could get better working in teams.
Looking back, I was glad that we leveraged on each team members’ strengths in this project and had a clear project plan to guide us. Even though we did delay the prototype design and usability testing by a day, having a project plan lets us see how we could workaround those delays and still keep the project on track.
In my next team project, I would like to improve on these things:
- Be better at handling Q&A in presentation
One important lesson I’ve learnt was to let each team member be able to answer questions about their parts in the project. For example, when entertaining stakeholders’ questions regarding solution design, team members who were in charge of the solution design would be most apt to answer the question. I have much to learn from this experience, as I tend to answer questions even when I have no direct involvement in the area.
- Be better at listening
I felt like I was quite opinionated throughout this project and that was because I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to drive the project and presentation. As a result, I may have failed to consider some of my team members’ input, so this is something I need to work on to become more effective in listening.
Can’t believe this is already the 3rd project and I’m half way through the UXDI course! My next challenge is to design a website so stay tuned to my next post!
You can find the prototype and presentation we’ve created in the links below.