FlyNow

Taking the work out of spontaneous travel.
Introduction

Collaborators: Akshay Balwani, Shreya Chaganti, Faraz Fatemi, Oliviero Figus, Peggy Lin.

For the modern explorer on a budget who needs an escape, FlyNow is a mobile application that puts “anywhere” within reach. In less than 2 minutes, users choose from recommended getaways, book seamlessly, and embark on their next adventure. Unlike conventional web-based travel services, FlyNow takes the work out of spontaneity and plans your journey from start to finish!

The sections below describe the steps we've taken in the product design process so far, as well as some future directions.

Defining the problem

In our fast-paced world, digital natives can accomplish nearly anything immediately, spontaneously, and with the convenience of a mobile application. They cannot, however, find such benefits in the area of travel. Planning a vacation by conventional means is slow, complicated, and unrelentingly expensive. The collection of moving parts is often unnavigable, and each separate component must be prearranged far in advance.

In essence, we define the problem as such: People who want to embark on quick getaways lack simple, efficient, and inexpensive tools to help them do so.

Our Product

We at FlyNow envision a mobile application that brings travel up to speed. A comprehensive travel tool bringing “anywhere” within reach, FlyNow will provide its users with three key benefits: it will (1) save you money, (2) enable your spontaneity, (3) make your discovery & exploration of the world quick and effortless. With FlyNow, you can find and book your next spontaneous getaway quickly, effortlessly, and cost-effectively, all from the convenience of your smartphone.

Target Market

FlyNow will save its users money by recommending only the most affordable travel options. Because users will not have specified their desired destination, they will feel confident that the choices provided are the most affordable ways for them to get away. This prioritization of affordability over destination has the added benefit of encouraging spontaneity, bringing users to places they never thought about visiting before. Finally, the application will dramatically simplify the travel planning process because users will search, discover, and book getaways in one place. FlyNow travelers will spend less time planning and more time enjoying their vacations.

As a team, we completed a Product Opportunity Assessment outlining market size, competitive landscape, our differentiator, market window, success criteria, and risk assessment. In addition, we defined our minimum viable product. Find the full documentation here.

Proof of Concept

With our MVP defined, it was time to assess user value. Using Bootstrap and Github pages, I mocked up a fake landing page for FlyNow with a brief description of the product and our value proposition. We used the landing page as collateral for interviews to determine whether people found the proposed product valuable.

Some Design Decisions
  • In initial interviews with a our classmates, we asked, "Have you ever gotten away? If so, how did it make you feel?" Unsurprisingly, the number one response was "free." The hero image thus is of a beach sunset with a flock of birds flying (pardon the obvious imagery.)
  • Our key value propositions were outlined below the hero image. As much as I could, I tried to follow the (you) + verb + what + measurable benefit model suggested in this helpful article on Medium on how to design landing pages.
  • I slanted the div containing our value propositions to the left in order to subtly highlight the first value proposition, which we considered most important at the time.
  • The value propositions were followed by the differentiator and contact information, per the article
Interview conclusions

On the whole, people were very optimistic about our product, with our interviewees being on average 83% likely to recommend the product to a friend. Other key insights gained included reordering our value propositions, as a majority of responses ranked affordability as most valuable to our target audience.

Initial Prototype
Logo
  • Given a pretty tight schedule, I wanted a logo that would be easy to vectorize and which would convey any or all of the value propositions of our product. The clear symbol to use for speed and to hint at the function of the application was an airplane. On the left are a few examples of different alternatives I sketched out.
  • I stumbled upon the idea for a paper airplane and it felt just right. Not only is the airplane symbolism present, but paper airplanes are ad hoc and can be made in a matter of minutes, just like our users' next getaway with FlyNow.
  • The final logo design is a slightly modified version of a paper airplane icon by Jennifer Cozzette (found via the Noun Project.)
  • I used Raleway for the typeface on the logo. The connected f and l was a fortunate accident. I couldn't help but be reminded of the Lyft logo, which was a connection I appreciated given both our product and theirs value the ability to act freely and spontaneously. A+ to the people who designed raleway for that hidden gem (McInerney, Impallari, & Fuenzalida.)
User Flow
  • I determined FlyNow's user flow based on my personal assumptions of how I might use a spontaneous travel application. Things I considered when doing so were the features that we defined as our MVP and minimizing taps and strokes as much as possible.
  • One thing I really wanted was a series of onboarding screens that explain the product and its value to the user. I was inspired largely by the onboarding sequence of the Munchery's app.
  • Unfortunately, as the prototype was completed as an assignment for a course, there was not enough time to user test at lower fidelity. As I'll elaborate on later, there were some valuable insights that came out of user testing that we could have caught much earlier had we done so.
Colors & Typography
  • While I'm fascinated by color theory and color psychology, I am an expert in neither field. From my knowledge of opponent color theory in psychology, however, I am familiar with the concept that red colors tend to excite while green colors tend to inhibit. These intuitions were confirmed by a Minnesota State University study done in 2003.
  • Per the iOS 8+ ideal that color should simplify, not complicate, visual design, I decided to choose one of two possible routes: Stick to reds to symbolize speed, or stick to greens to symbolize ease. Since easy and convenience were ranked higher than speed in our value testing, I went with greens.
  • When I was designing FlyNow, I'd recently attended a talk where a designer said a cardinal sin of design is using #000 for body copy. So I looked it up, and found a really insightful article that confirmed this is an important design practice.
First Iteration: Screens
A Few Design Decisions
  • In order to minimize taps, I wanted the most common options to be set as default. Preliminary interviews suggested people were most interested in getaways for 2 nights.
  • Since our user value testing revealed that our target users care most about affordability, the cost of each flight package is prominently displayed. In addition, the options are ranked in order of ascending cost.
  • I followed the white card on light grey background style convention that I notice in most iOS 8+ applications.
  • The weather feature pays homage to the native Apple weather app (which makes sense because weather data will likely be scraped from there.)
  • Departure and arrival times for departing and returning flights are clearly noted in 24 hour time.
  • A list of sights and attractions follows the weather information. In future iterations, we hope these cards will link to external sites or allow users to reserve tickets in advance.
  • Our early research also indicated that people tend to "getaway" alone or with one other person. Thus, to minimize taps and reduce cognitive load, both options are immediately available. This follows in the footsteps of other spontaneity applications (YPlan & WillCall, for example.)
  • Native Apple styling and color coding was used here to allow for ease of use.
User Testing
Use Cases

We identified two use cases that we felt highlighted the core features and benefits of the app:

Procedure
  • Each of three users was presented with the prototype without any information about the nature of the application. The intent of this was to see if the purpose was clear by virtue of the design. At the stage of the initial loading screen, one participant thought FlyNow was a messaging app (given the symbolism of the paper airplane), but by the time the onboarding sequence was finished, all participants understood the purpose unaided.
  • Each participant was then given one of the above use cases and asked to perform the required actions in the app. They were asked to speak their thoughts as they did so.
Insights
Future Directions

I'm currently working on the second iteration of the prototype which will focus on improving the current prototype in the following ways:

Our team is scheduled to pitch our product to a team of judges in the coming weeks. Depending on the success of the pitch, we may begin to flesh out the back-end to build a fully functional application.

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