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Transforming the in-flight experience of airline passengers

Background

For their May 2021 Creative Jam event, Adobe partnered with Southwest Airlines to host a UI/UX design challenge for college students from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The theme for this event revolved around travel, specifically urging the student competitors to reimagine the standard in-flight magazine in hopes to better inspire future travelers. My teammate and I (in the midst of preparing for our finals I might add) joined the other 200+ college student teams to take on the challenge.

My role

For this project I focused on designing the home page, activities page, and the to-do list page. I also helped to prototype the overall design. 

The prompt

Reimagining how airplane passengers spend their time

Because this was a competition, all teams were given the same problem to solve. Under the partnership with Southwest Airlines, the challenge of course revolved around travel.  

Design brief

The Adobe x Southwest design brief called us to:

Additionally, our solution needed to consider other details like "how could the in-flight time be used by a passenger to learn about attractions, transport, dining, childcare, and shopping in the locale they are on their way to?", as well as "how can the journey be personalized to complement the beginning-to-end vacation experience for a customer?".

Our guiding question

After research and conducting short interviews of our target audience, we created a guiding question to help us achieve our goal and work toward and effective solution:

1. Research + sketches

Reviewing current in-flight entertainment options

The short timeframe did not give us enough time to conduct interviews or go through extensive research. Instead, we searched through airline websites to review the current entertainment options offered to passengers and drew from our own flight experiences to fill in the gaps.

Research

To better understand who we were designing for and what exactly we should design, we researched the current in-flight experience and activities offered to passengers.


From our research, we were able to identify areas to develop and areas to avoid. Current in-flight magazines only offered surface-level information about the target destination and did not spark that much of an interest. While the current in-flight entertainment (movies, music, and games) help passengers pass time on lengthy flights, we concluded that none of this material would prepare them for their trip.

Sketches

We then brainstormed together and came up with sketches of our most basic ideas to start.

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2. Low-fi

Visualizing our next steps

Again, the short time frame forced us to skip many steps in our usual design process. Due to the circumstances, we only had time to create these low-fidelity wireframes before transitioning straight to high-fi.

3. Final Solution

Finalizing designs and reaching a good exit point

Following our low-fi stage, we jumped straight into defining a clear design system in order to create a cohesive interface. After losing a day and a half due to school-related responsibilities, we had to rush to the finish.

Our final solution/design consisted of multiple pages of interactive elements and dynamically presented information. We ended up with:

  • an interactive and fun landing page where users can select their preferred language and target destination

  • an informational home page that provides background information of the target destination and includes helpful information like useful phrases and other tips on how to get around, etc.

  • a food page that introduces users to the cuisine of their target destination through descriptions, audio, and imagery and also suggests restaurants and shops where it can be found!

  • an entertainment & activities page that lists popular outing ideas, locations, and events at their target destination along with the ability to save these suggestions to a list

  • a landmarks page where users can educate themselves on the history of the target destination and get ideas of iconic places to visit

  • a to-do list page that keeps track of users’ “favorites” and allows them to send it to themselves so that they can carry these experiences with them on their trip and return to them later

experience the prototype here!

wrapping up

reflecting on the ~short~ experience

Takeaways

Despite the short timeline (along with being in the middle of preparing/studying for finals) we were able to complete the challenge and create a project that we were proud of. Our efforts paid off, as we were one of ten teams that were awarded the title of “Honorable Mention”. 

This project emphasized the importance of designing to keep users engaged. While we were not able to include users in our design process this time, we always made sure to ask ourselves if what we were doing was in line with our guiding question and design brief. This really helped us to create an enjoyable experience as well as inform our design decisions throughout the process.

Overall, this challenge was good practice for us and we had a lot of fun doing it!

Thanks for reading!
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