UK Airlines - Crew Self Sign-In

Apr 2016 – Nov 2016

UK Airlines (UKA) is Britain’s second largest carrier serving the world’s major cities. I was associated with them to build a web application from scratch to automate their most crucial Crew Member’s manual sign-in process and assigning aircraft’s. This should work in sync with their existing database and should let Crewing User (admin) effectively connected with the entire flight management ecosystem.

Outline

This was my first ever onsite experience working as a UX Designer. In our project plan, we reserved one and half month for research at onsite. I was accompanied by one of our senior experience designers to initiate the UX Research and business stakeholders meetings. Prior to our visit to the client side, I started working on the initial outline of a project which was largely based on the POC and initial SOW document shared by UKA. Here I empathized studied various documents, conversations and did a quick analysis and worked on a couple of tasks as follows,

  1. Business Goals (Best guess from SOW and POC)
  2. User profiles (Short Persona with key tasks and expectations from the user)
  3. Task Analysis (Tasks as per user profiles)
  4. Paper Concepts (Scribbles based on above activities and inputs)

I got reviewed this entire exercise from SME who was associated with UKA for more than 8 years as a BA and further shared the same with UX experts who was handling airlines domain for a quite long time. I iterated my initial findings based on the inputs shared by the two Gurus.

These exercises were like a warm-up which was really helpful to get started with the actual UX Research at UKA site. These findings were almost 60% in-lined with business and users. This helped us a lot to get started quickly with User Interviews followed by Initial Paper Prototype to conduct Formative Usability Testing with real users. Here the journey begins!!!

Former Manual Process

UKA was signing-in Flight Deck and Cabin Crew members using sign-in sheets. These sheets are generated, printed and modified by Crew Dispatch Coordinators (CDCs). On a day of operation, crew members arrive and append their signature against their names on the sign-in sheets of assigned flight. This signifies that they have reported to duty and have read all safety instructions and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), further it enables CDCs and Crewing (Admin) to position crew members on the day of operation.

Challenges

Based on the UX research followed by the analysis we identified the following critical aspects to be addressed in the value proposition. UKA was very supportive in the entire research and was excited to see the developments ahead.

  • Lack of real-time updates between the crew and crewing
  • Communication gaps between crewing and crew members lead to recurring errors
  • Hard to initiate crew members rolling and swapping
  • The manual process, hence lengthy and unreliable
  • Difficult to track and manage crew Sign-In records

Business Goals

Robust Platform

Automate existing manual sign-in process to create a robust platform to efficiently manage airline operations in a current and future competitive environment

Multi Manage

Seamlessly manage multiple flights and crew member’s sign-in to assigned flights

Generate Records

Generate past records of crew members of different types signing-in to various flights and location

Live Updates

live updates of flight, roster, weather and crew member’s sing-in status within crew members and CMS and admin user

Design Approach

We did a series of meetings with the Business Stakeholders to understand the requirement and the existing manual process in depth. To deep dive further, we visited the actual airport site to observe the live crew members manual journey to successfully sign-in. This was followed by the four-day workshop with key user types which helped us to gather qualitative and quantitative data, wherein we did one-on-one interviews with the crewing (Admin) user who plays a crucial role in crew members schedule management and effective airline management. Additionally, we did Competitors Analysis of UKA direct competitors. Eventually, we presented our findings to business and users and iterated it further based on the feedback generated through this exercise.

An instant in a Business Stakeholders Meetings
Evaluation of manual process paperwork and records records

Further, we constructed Personas, Information Architectures, and User Journeys. We analyzed and brainstormed on the developments till this phase and built paper prototypes which allowed us to make amends easily and visualize an app version which was based on Users Mantel model and in line with Business Requirements. Next, we created the first version of Interactive Prototypes and tested with actual users on the field. Following is the list of UX Deliverable we lined up,

  1. Requirement Gathering
  2. User Research – Persona (Key User Type)
  3. Information Architecture
  4. Prototyping, Formative Usability Testing
  5. Visual Designing
  6. Development
  7. Summative Usability Testing

Persona

We identified three key user profiles as Cabin Crew, Flight Service Manager (FSM) and Crewing (Admin). Following is a visual representation of Cabin Crew and FSM persona.

Task Flow

Following is the User Flow of the Cabin Crew and FSM user. It illustrates application behaviors based on the user reporting time, which covers login, passport scan and, crewing list steps.

Paper Prototype

I created a paper prototype which was drilled down to screen level detail. This covered various scenarios of login, passport scan, manual sign-in in case of passport scan failure etc.

Paper Prototype Creation
Paper Prototype Presentation to Client

High Fidelity Wireframes

Following are the few of wireframe screens shots created in Axure RP Pro.

Visual Design

As Visual Design plays a significant role in the overall personality of a product and considering the contemporary Brand Perception of UKA we had to work diligently on the visual identity of Crew Self Sign-In. I did the extensive research of UKA online identity and their thought behind the brand elements like punch lines, colors, metaphors used in logo, crew members attires print material etc.

I was gathering all my insights about UKA which helped me understand UKA’s principles to serve their customers and their efforts to embrace their staff. As a part of this exercise I analyzed an application which was part of their entertainment gadget installed on the back of their aircraft seat, overall branding language etc. Further when I concluded my research I came to know there were certain patterns in the UKAs visual identity. While designing theme we followed these patterns and implemented best design principles. Additionally, we worked on the several color palettes and primarily enhanced three unique themes. Each theme was significantly built on the design principles and the adaptable design aspects. Following is the glimpse of the same.

We had a formal walkthrough session with business owners, wherein UKA’s was glad to see the variations and exact brand extension in their unique way! Theme 3 was the winner!!!

Following are the few of the visual screens

Current Process

Post-Crew Self Sign-In, things more real-time and fully connected from crew members reporting to flight management by crewing user. This entire ecosystem works in hand in hand with VKA’s existing backend systems, which is considered as the great outcome of this solution by UKA.

Following infographic depicts the current process in short.

UX Solution Overview

  • User-centered design approach wherein it’s 90% driven by user mental model
  • Role-based tailored functionalities
  • Easy to understand color-coded crew sign-in status
  • Integrated with advanced search filters/predictable search
  • Compare flight function to effectively analyze and initiate crew rolling, swapping
  • Smart E Briefcase function for FSM to manage documentation efficiently
  • 100% in sync with CMS

Solution Impact

  • Reliable system
  • Faster flight and crew management
  • Reduction in crew members query turnaround time
  • Reduction of manual intervention
  • Reduction of manpower
  • Zero communication error between all users
  • Accurate report generation