Delta is a leader in their industry, repeatedly named the most admired airline of the year. 180 million passengers fly Delta every year and each one expects the quality they find at the airport to be replicated online.
Flight status (2015/6)
The website (at the time) didn't meet either Delta's or their customers' expectations and AKQA was tasked with the redesign. Using Flight Status as the starting point, how far can we push their current design to create an overall better customer journey. And can we develop a new online identity and design system that encourages consistency across all their digital touch-points and brings clarity and delight to their experience.
Brand inspiration
As Delta's digital partner, we were continuously trying to develop the brand and refresh their online identity to be more sophisticated, cleaner and intuitive. There were multiple projects that had been completed by other members of the team at AKQA that served as starting points for our designs, and that led us to develop the beginnings of a design system.
(Shown here is the Delta In-Flight Television screen, the Gate Information Display Systems (for passengers at the departure gate waiting to board), Seat Selection, and Upsell Models (found during the flight booking flow).
Moodboards, art Direction & blue sky thinking
Working alongside the creative director, we created a moodboard based around the direction we both had in mind for the website, specifically looking for custom map designs, examples of colour-blocking or sectioning of a website and representation of different statuses and data displayed on a card. We also looked at Delta's competitors at the time, both locally and internationally to gage the current industry standards.
These evolved throughout the design process but distilled down to needs both the experience and the visuals needed to account for and abide by:
- A customer can find and track their flight
- They can search and track a friend or family member's flight
- Find recent flight searches and saved/recently booked flights
- Have multiple ways to find a flight (number, destination, date...)
- At a glance, clearly identify the status
- Provide a way to be notified of flight updates
- The design should be visually engaging
- User flows need to feel natural and familiar
- Consideration for the larger design system across
- Maintain the Delta brand
- Be fully responsive across desktop and mobile experiences
- Adhere to accessibility guidelines and standards
The Customer Journey
Flight status can be launched from the site navigation or directly on the flight status page itself. Our target is to surface information quickly whilst maintaining relevant to where the user is in the flow. Each flight surfaced from search provides the option to see more details and dig deeper into both the flight and what else has to offer.
Prototyping & User Testing
Customers overall understood and managed to move through the screens with little hesitation but whilst the flow made sense, they questioned some of the features available. A way to create notifications was regarded as important and users also appreciated knowing the terminal they were landing at, but noted they would likely meet friends or family at baggage claim instead. We also observed a need to edit or modify search instead of having to return to the beginning to do so.
Prototyping to development
This is our initial prototype which, working with our engineering team, we developed into a fully functioning micro-site that contained all the entry points and information a typical user would see. This allowed us not only to create a better test environment for our users, but also allowed the client to play around with the site and get a sense of how it felt for themselves. The feedback from the client (and customer) was overwhelmingly positive, they loved the overall direction and were especially excited as this at their first glimpse of a responsive site for the company.
(In order: flight status home page, flight search results, mobile flight search and the Delta flight tracker and flight details page)
The impact
The redesign left a lot to be desired for our clients, showcasing AKQA and the vast improvements that could be made to Delta's UI with little impact to the overall flow and user story. There's still a lot of progress to be made, Delta's site in its entirety covers many different areas and even more so when the design system across all their digital touch points is taken into account however this left them wanting more and provided them with that glimpse into what their site could be.
(I left the company shortly following the pitch to pursue another role and so unfortunately, I wasn't involved in the final design that launched in 2018, but it's been wonderful to see the impact this project had on the site's design overhaul)!