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User Experience Teardown of Airline Apps

Did you know that one in three visits to airline sites are happening on mobile devices? That's why it's so important for you to be striving to provide the best user experience for your app users. Hi, I'm Caroline Craddock. I'm the visual designer here at Pulsate. And I'm going to be taking this week's video on airline apps and user experience. So let's take off.



pulsate academy episode 9 airline user experience

Here's a still of this week's Academy whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

.@PulsateHQ Academy EPISODE #9 [WATCH] UX teardown of Airline Apps @KLM @British_Airways



So the first app I reviewed is the Virgin Atlantic app. And the first thing I want to look at is the design of that app. The first impression was really, really nice. It opens with a flash screen that says, "Hello, gorgeous." And straight away, it makes their users feel special. There's quite a high drop-off rate. There's 25% chance of your users actually deleting your app after the first session. So it's really important to give them a good impression and make them come back and become returning customers.

Virgin Atlantic Mobile App

Virgin Atlantic Mobile App

At this point, you have a couple of seconds, really, to make that impression. Is that customer going to be disengaged? Or are they actually going to turn out to be a valued customer. So it's something you really need to take on board.

Another thing that I liked when it came to the design of this app was the little cloud graphic at the bottom of the screen. As you navigated across to the different screens, the cloud graphic actually came across with you, so I thought that was really nice.

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When it comes to the UX of this app, I thought the language throughout the app was really, really nice. It was really friendly. And it felt human, which I thought is a very important thing to do when it comes to language in your app. 

Avoid feeling robotic and sounding automated as well. You don't want to be doing that. And whenever you can, you should be adding elements of personalization, which this app does really well.

So on the home screen, when you're signed in, you have all your important information where you need it. You've got your membership information. You've got your point information, your status, your name, everything there at a glance.

So I want to point out one feature of this app that I thought was just done really well. And it's the loyalty incentive that comes with this app. So it's to make your users come back for more and stay loyal to this brand. So instead of them paying for their flights with cash, what they do is they build up a points balance, and they can actually use this points balance to redeem flights and order purchases in-app. And this also adds an element of gamification, which is really, really powerful in your app. So what it does is it rewards your customers based on their actions. And then, in turn, it makes them feel happy. They create a positive association with your app. They'll come back for more. And the result is then a higher app user retention rate, which is what you want for your mobile marketing strategy.

The next app that I had a look at was British Airways. So they relaunched this app in May 2014. And since then, the revenue for in-app has doubled since this launch. So it's been very successful. I think part of this has been because of the design of the app. It's been really well done. The overall visual design is absolutely gorgeous. It's quite flat and clean. You know exactly where you are. You're not overwhelmed by any details or options. And one thing I liked on the home screen was the suggestion tiles at the bottom of the screen for the different cities that you can fly through. So the interactions are really nice as well. So when you're sliding through, you select your city, and you're brought to a calendar picker screen. This one was probably my favorite screen of the app. It was the interactions and transitions here of the different dates. You could compare different dates by a visual representation rather than looking at a boring table. So it's things like this that really do surprise and delight your users.

British Airways Mobile App

British Airways Mobile App

And when I come to the UX of the overall app, the booking focuses my attention on one step at a time. Before, booking through mobile apps and websites could be very difficult. But with this app, it's really easy, really straightforward, focus your attention on one step at a time, so it's done really, really well.

And then what I wanted to look at is the feature of this app that I like the most. Now, there's a couple of things here. So British Airways are actually the first UK airline to embrace bluetooth beacon technology. They've implemented and deployed it in their Heathrow airport. But in order for this to be successful, they need to get their app users to opt in to push notifications and location services.

So how do we do this? What you want to do is when a user first enrolls your app, you need to inform them what are the benefits to them as a customer to enable this. So first off, you want them to enable push notifications. So you want to teach them, what will they be getting from this? Then you want to prompt them with "Please enable push notifications."

Then when it comes to location services, you can actually delay this if you want. You can wait until maybe the second or third time that they open your app to ask them to enable this. This will probably return a higher success rate than actually opting in.

So then, that was pretty much the British Airways. Then I went on to the KLM mobile app. When it came to the design of that, again, similar to the Virgin Atlantic app, they have a nice flash screen that says, "Good afternoon," which I thought was quite friendly and quite human again. And a quite unique UI style, which I really liked. It was quite different to the other two apps that I reviewed. And I thought it's just really designed nicely.

KLM Mobile AppKLM Mobile App

 So you have your main call to action blocks right there on home screen. It's mostly chunky text that takes your different options there. And there's a lovely blurred sky image throughout the app as well. So it's just like the overall look and feel of the app is just really, really gorgeous.

Another thing that I really liked about this was the booking experience through this app. The other two apps used a lot of mobile site through the app. Whereas, this, in the KLM app, they actually have all the booking steps built into the app. So it was just a nicer user experience overall.

What they've done really well, when it comes to user experience, is on-boarding their customers. So they do this through guided walk-through. So they tell the users exactly why they should opt in for push notifications, the benefits to them, what to expect. And then they go through different features of their app, again, what to expect from the app. So they go through each screen. They show you that you can manage your KLM account through the app. Easy check-in, you can view your boarding pass. You can add it to passbook. You can actually book a trip, receive your relevant notifications. And you can also connect to your Apple Watch, which is a new and a really cool feature.

So I think they just did a really fantastic job on on-boarding new customers. And they really teach their customers the benefits of the app the first time that they download it. And this gives a reason for the users to continue to come back. They know exactly what to expect from the app. And in result, again, it's a higher user retention rate in your app, which is what you want.

One feature that they did, as well, I want to point out is upselling on booking. So the timing of this has been done really well. It's after you go throughout the booking process that you are tempted to add on upsells. So basically, you can select your favorite seat. You can add extra baggage at a discount price. Or you can also select an ala carte meal. So you can basically take care of your whole trip there and then and throughout the booking process. So I think the clever timing of this has worked really well. And it's going to, of course, result in more revenue for the app. It also makes the user feel taken care of, which is like, again, is a great user experience.

So that pretty much covers it for today. I've been Caroline Craddock, and I hope you enjoyed today's video. I'd love to get some feedback if you guys want to leave a comment below. Or even you can call out to us on our Pulsate twitter handle @PulsateHQ. See you next time.

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pulsate academy episode 9 airline apps user experience