March, 2020 · 5 min read
We have been designing digital and non-digital solutions for the aviation industry for eight years now, with clients located throughout Europe, Asia and America. We have provided solutions for a variety of tasks from mapping end-to-end user journeys to redesigning entire websites, mobile applications and even boarding cards.
Aviation is a peculiar industry in that there is mounting pressure on companies to raise revenues by selling more ancillaries, even as prices are dropping. “Cost is king” – a major client of ours is quoted as saying. Over the years we have learned how to efficiently assist our clients in a rapidly changing and success-oriented market by designing and delivering digital solutions that aid them in reaching their goals.
While we were working on solutions delivering just that, this notion somehow got ahold of us. Are we fast and agile enough to support these requirements? We felt that we could not keep up with the pace due to our internal processes. We realized that a huge amount of dead weight burdens us as we try to progress from ideas through sketches, wireframes and pixel-perfect designs to development.
This has accumulated over the years, because our team always strived to use the best possible tools, learn new MO’s, etc – yet it resulted in bloated processes. Many ingenious solutions added up to something too big and complex. Our in-house design team was using four different ticketing systems and three design tools in their daily work. This created numerous inconsistencies, iterations and needless work.
We needed to improve upon this existing structure, and when our client launched an agile transformation process, we knew it was time to act. We had to become capable of supporting as many as 10 product teams simultaneously, hardly possible keeping the existing processes and tools.
To begin, we assessed and reviewed all the design processes and tools with relevant team members. We discovered many flawed or ill-thought-out plans but prioritized focusing on the three most important aspects that impacted the design team’s day-to-day operations the most. To that we added elements that are essential to serving a ULCC client:
It runs in the browser, making it unnecessary to install a software client locally, that can be overly painful in corporate environments where users have limited access on their machines. Sharing a design is simple over the web, and it is independent from the operating system of choice.
This greatly improved the speed of the process. Business stakeholders, designers and developers can collaborate in parallel on the files, drastically shortening the approval cycles despite the physical distance between project members.
Files and specific designs can be monitored and worked on by any number of collaborators having the appropriate privileges. These files are stored in the cloud, and therefore accessible anywhere, anytime. Local backups can be created for additional safety.
Figma offers clear version tracking that allows quick access of any prior state of the designs. This has been an invaluable tool for A/B testing. Additionally, versioning enables us to create and manage new design variants much faster reusing previous ones.
Today we are building almost all new designs from existing components. If there is a change in any of those, it is inherited by all child elements automatically. This drastically shortens lengthy design changes that formerly took a significant amount of time from the team.
Figma also helps developers by showing CSS info for all of the components, so we are working on unifying the design and the frontend components to speed up the development too.
Standardizing the design tools is not sufficient by itself though. We set up a new meeting called design review with a predefined agenda and expected output to help our client with the approval procedure. We created new templates that facilitate briefing and unified the naming convention in order to allow referencing a project the same way throughout its lifecycle.
As a result the timeframe for the average design process got cut in half, and the resolution speed for quick-fixes became 10 times faster.
Simultaneously it improved synergies between business and development teams. But these complex processes cannot be tailored to perfection on a drawing board. The feedback from everyday work has to be collected both internally and from the client’s side, and further improvements have to be distilled from those. We work closely with the product teams, gathering all design-related feedback at the end of sprints (every 2 weeks in our case), furthermore we organize a recurring workshop sessions every 2 or 3 months for ourselves, where we review our whole design process step by step.
It is clear that this sort of iteration is just as crucial as the optimization of digital products to reach higher conversion rates. And eventually the value of optimizing the design process can also be measured precisely.
And you might end up with something that reflects your client’s business and delivers value to all parties involved.
This was only a sample of our endeavors in the aviation industry. If you are interested in how we revamped our client’s entire post-booking journey, please read the story on the following link: Digitizing Your Travel Experience.