Airport maps

2 Minute read

The challenge

Everyone hates flying a little bit. Whether it be the long lines, crowded space, or the imminent fear of death while flying in a small tube thousands of feet in the air. There are undoubtedly lots of pain points in this industry and hundreds of companies have tried to ease the customer journey to some success. I felt as though there was still room for improvement, so I cracked open a fresh case of sticky notes and got to work

Discovery

The first thing I did was roughly map out the customer journey from A to B. This was a fairly simple process as we all experience roughly the same pattern of events. I then went through each stage of the journey and quickly listed tasks and possible pain points I experienced.

My sticky notes weren’t sticking so I moved them onto a Miro board.

What I discovered was, a lot of my tasks and pain points existed inside of the airport. I put on my coat and walked to the local app store to see if I could solve some of the challenges I was facing. To my surprise, there were a lot of apps focused on ticket purchases and traveling in general but not many focused on the time spent in the airport. The closest utility I could find were the various “travel wallets” created to store important flight data and travel documents. For the sake of learning UX, I completed a heuristic analysis of three of the most common flight wallet apps. But, to be fair, this wasn’t really what I was looking for. I did, however, discover a big problem with the tech of these apps. Often, airlines and airports will change information on a flight and it will not be updated in the apps! I was using Sam 🙂 and it didn’t tell me my flight was cancelled… oops.

It was at this stage I began to worry. I had done a lot of research and critical thinking on an idea that only affected me. I didn’t know if anyone else even cared. So, I created a short survey and sent it out to see if anyone else was bothered by the poor UX in airports. It turns out, some people cared! I conducted informal interviews to see what they cared about specifically. I was careful not to include any of my attachments or ideas, just listen. After ten surveys and five informal interviews, I condensed the notes the best I could.

Distilling information

Using affinity mapping I clustered the shared pain points into a few categories and then split those into two user personas.

the frequent flier and the infrequent flier

The commonality I found between the two travelers was “discovery”. This abstract goal shared between the two was present at almost every stage of their journey. The next question was – How might I create a utility that displayed travel information in common sense and unobtrusive way?
I began to rapid sketch ideas – the most obvious being a map based utility. For a little clarity, I roughly wireframed it in Miro.

I had a pretty clear idea as to where the design for this was going, so I pushed it into a high fidelity prototype. I wanted to keep the design as simple and not flashy as possible. This wasn’t a brand, it was a utility.

Conclusion

In the world of Apps, almost everything has been done more than once so there is probably a good reason this doesn’t exist. It would take a lot of effort traveling to and mapping every airport. A lot of the apps success would depend on people updating and contributing to the maps. When I showed the utility to my peers however, they were excited to see it. There is a need for something like this.

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