During the Christmas quiet period at Virgin Australia, I worked with the mobile product team to conceptually design a native solution for Android users. The iOS only version of the app was created by an external agency several years ago, however testing and feedback highlighted major flaws in the experience. We took the initiative without official project funding to improve on the design based on the feedback we'd received.
A common complaint about the existing app was how difficult it is to monitor points earned and burned through Virgin Australia's partner loyalty program Velocity Frequent Flyer. Solving this issue for the 3 million active Velocity members became a central theme of the redesign project. The confusing tile-based interface and unconventional navigation also contributed to user frustration.
Even after so many bad reviews, nobody cares to fix this totally wrong app.
— Danone1973, iTunes Customer Reviews
We heard the outcry from users and decided to take the first steps to try to fix the issues caused by the poor user experience and visual design. I examined the existing iOS app design and conducted an evaluation, based on Jakob Nielsen’s usability heuristics.
We kicked off the design process by recreating the information architecture through sorting and interface mapping exercises.
Below is a comparison of the iOS interface map with our new map for Velocity users and non-logged-in users. We simplified the main navigation into four primary sections - Home, Trips, Book, and More. Check-in was later removed from the navigation as we introduced a check-in panel to alert users of upcoming flights.
As the design process for the new app ran concurrently with the booking engine redesign project, maintaining continuity between the two products was critical. I developed and governed a central styleguide, heavily influenced by material design, to ensure both projects followed the same design principles and visual aesthetic.
I was responsible for the visual design execution and built screen-by-screen prototypes using Marvel and demonstrated tricky interactions and transitions using HTML / CSS. Although seemingly simple, the most challenging design feature was the 'tierometer' or point dial as it needed to clearly show points earned while encouraging users to earn more points to graduate to higher tiers.
Finding a balance between exploring loyalty activity, flight reminders, and entering into new booking paths drove the design architecture. The new design also removed all irrelevant promotional content to keep the attention on features and utilities.
Our initiative set in motion a funded app redevelopment project based on our concept, as an urgent directive from the Virgin Australia board. The negative reaction from the previous app has made Virgin Australia more mindful of mobile users and the business is now willing to invest more resources into customer-driven experiences.