Mobile app design
In 2014, Lowcostholidays was one of the UK’s leading holiday companies with over 2 million customers. The company specialised in offering budget travel solutions, operating to destinations worldwide, with a focus on European city and beach breaks. We decided to build a brand new app available on Android and Apple devices. The aim was to let customers book flights, hotels, transfers, baggage and insurance all in one place straight from their mobile. The primary objectives were to include a powerful search functionality, while also offering the user a stress-free way to book their full holiday.
We wanted the app to take care of everything the customer would need on their holiday. We also wanted to include a new deal finder feature called ‘Inspire Me’. For our customers to be fully confident about booking their entire holiday via a phone, we had to provide a safe and secure payment process, with all the holiday confirmation documents sent via email.
I was part of the product team responsible for the design of the app and the experience strategy. I worked within a team of business analysts, project managers and an external app development agency. I led the UX work, producing all major design deliverables. I worked closely with our external development team to focus on creating the best user experience and maintaining the lowcostholidays brand.
Care was given to promote the current lowcstholidays brand and tone. We wanted to create an experience that was clean, simple, professional and transparent. The overall experience of the app needed to mirror lowcostholidays modern and easy-to-understand approach to holiday search. By implementing clear interactions with a simple design, we wanted to create an app that aligned with our current booking experience on our website.
Lowcostholidays had a large website, with a wide-ranging audience and an ever growing list of destinations. We had to consider this when structuring the presentation of information within the app. Because of the large amount of content, we aimed to create a simple look and feel, relying on visual branding, whitespace and clear readability for the user. Due to a tight deadline, we worked hard to get the design and experience right in as short a time as possible deciding on a lean approach which included rapid sketching, wireframing, user feedback and design mockups.
The discussions around our users needs and varying contexts of use were discovered via careful analysis of research into our current mobile site users. Our team of analysts identified sufficient behavioural variables to segment our user audience and better understand the user we were targetting. Through initial rough sketching and user journeys, I generated a range of ideas surrounding the arrangement of the UI, functionality and interactive elements. Finally, the vision of the app began to develop into something real.
After determining the user scenarios, I defined the pathways our users would make through the app. By creating the key user journeys I was able to conceptualise and structure the contents and functionality. I began to think about the user and the elements that they would expect to interact with. I created a user flow of wireframe images to help communicate the design and interactions to the team. This was a big time‐saver at the start of the project and allowed me to avoid more complex and time-consuming prototyping, something that was important within the tight timeframe.
I used Photoshop to design and communicate the high fidelity design work. At this stage I began to upload the designs to Redpen, a tool used for obtaining live, annotated feedback. In hindsight, it would have made sense to begin communicating ideas and revisions via this tool at the very start of the project in order to collaborate quicker across the team.
The main screen has been designed to allow users quick access to the primary function of the app. The large area size of the buttons make tapping easier, and the layout was chosen to provide a clear visual way for users to select their holiday search options. The clean and readable typography creates an uncluttered and clean feeling. The design needed to help create confidence in the app to give users a sense of reassurance while booking their holiday.
We worked closely with the external app agency to test and evaluate the app, between recovering from bugs and app crashes we were able to discover certain usability issues related to the perceived customer journey and search, such as allowing users to easily sort and view their flight preferences.
By visualising the users end‐to‐end experience across various screens within the app, we identified where we needed to focus attention to detail. Mapping out our users desires was key to selecting the right journey we were aiming to design for. Whilst our competitors at the time focused on allowing custmers to book either a flight or hotel, our app gave custmers the chance to book everything in one place withut having to leave the app, helping our users get more pleasure out of the whole booking experience.
Upon its launch in 2014, it was the first travel app in the UK to offer customers a fully combined booking feature of both flights and hotels as a package. Within a year of release it was downloaded over 500,000 times and had well over 100,000 active users. Most importantly, the app conversion rate was 5 times greater than the current mobile website, telling us that our goal had been achieved. With these statistics in mind, we agreed that the new app was ahead of its game and well placed within the rapidly changing holiday market.