I love Virgin Atlantic. At the time of writing, their app is horrifically out of date and as I had a spare hour, I decided to design an app for them.
I always find it useful to look at the competition when approaching any new project. It’s always good to see how they are represented in the spectrum, as well as pointing out any massive gaping areas that the competition can sneak up into. From a few forums (mainly flyertalk) I’ve picked out the following keywords that jump out in trip reports.
While usually I’d do a bit of focus group and scouting work to begin with, I don’t have the luxury in this case, so virtual ethnography via the amazing v-flyer site is all I have to go with. That and their Facebook site, but sadly that page is trolled everyday by someone wanting compensation for absolutely anything.
I’m just adding a few comments from the app store. Always worth bearing in mind that 10% of all net users make the most noise.
A flight app is not a fun app, in the sense that a game is. It should be functional most, with other parts coming after. This seems like a fair breakdown of what I want to achieve.
Everything about Virgin is a bit more friendly than say, BA. Therefore, this is reflected in their branding and tone of voice, expertly put together with almost mathematical precision by the UK agency Johnson Banks, who got it so right it’s like they just sucked out Richard Bransons vision onto pitchboards.
I’ve made the loading words based on British English phrases; just enough to give it that Virgin charm, but also understandable to US audiences.
There’s something a bit more human, I feel, with this copy rather than the word “loading”. But anyway, I digress. And anyhow, with your iPhone 79384C, this page will load up in about 0.789 nanoseconds so it’s a bit of a moot point.
The landing page has two separate sections; “flight” and “fancy”, which again is a play on the phrase “flight of fancy”. However, it works very well here. We’re not all flying club members, so there needs to be a bit of upselling, as well as functionality. I quite like split interfaces, like Facebook’s Paper, so this is a nice compromise.
Slideouts are big these days, so I don’t feel too bad about putting one in here. I’ve tried to use the actual shape of a plane as the title bar here, allowing quick access to all the various sections.
A form is a form and it always will be. I’m sick of people trying to “redesign” the form. At the end of the day, you’ll always have to input in a fairly linear fashion due to the dependencies of our financial and airline booking systems. Sorry, but unless something really drastic happens, it’s gonna stay that way.
I had a bit of fun here with the graphics to carry on the slightly cheeky, friendly feeling. Instead of tabs, different dates can be scrolled through with one thumb alone and the shape is a little more playful.
Tapping a class will expand it out to show you what is available. Excellent for those who might want to buy a certain fair code to upgrade using miles later.
One thing I detest about a lot of flying apps is you can’t see the price straight away for the whole trip because the outgoing and incoming are on separate pages. This is total crap. There is no technical reason for this whatsoever and just eats time. Therefore, transparency is something Virgin is excellent at and transparency you shall get! A cheap ticket with a ridiculous surcharge, for example ;)
Legal info is displayed in pop-ups, which seems about right given the fact that a large majority will never read these, so a dedicated section seemed a bit too much in the booking process. Having them contextual is far more easy.
At this stage, you should log in if you haven’t already!
I also thought this might be a nice time for users to find out about Flying Club.
The scariest bit. I still get a chill everytime I am in a payment page and I don’t like combined summaries and payments. This is a big deal, so I chose to split them apart. Some may disagree (I can definitely think of a few right now!) but I think that the opportunity to change is still something that people need for large purchases (which technically may not be refundable!)
For the flying club area, I wanted it to feel a little different than the rest of the site. I feel this section of the app should be like one of Virgin’s many lounges – a place to browse and loaf without too much pressure to do anything.
This section calculates what you can get with your current miles instead of you doing it yourself.
Thanks to the userbase at v-flyer.