Amidst the primary goal to create a well-synchronized, centralized flight & boarding management platform for all United gate agents through the new Jet flight & boarding management platform, our UX team was made well aware of the need to accommodate the distinctive flow of several stations facilitating multiple express flights at one gate.
Since IAD (Washington-Dulles) airport has the highest volume of these multiple express flight scenarios, we decided to visit this station initially to gain substantial knowledge to further inform our flight and boarding management designs. As a means of learning how express flights agents work and understanding what they need from Jet, we visited IAD to conduct gate observations, iterate designs based on insights, and test FM/BM prototypes with agents.
As a means of learning how express flights agents work and understanding what they need from Jet, we visited IAD to conduct gate observations, iterate designs based on insights, and test FM/BM prototypes with agents. We started with an initial exploratory study involving the aforementioned methods to gauge the scope and goal of the new Jet express flight user experience, and we followed this step up by conducting 3 consecutive rounds of in-person iterative user testing and design sessions with IAD gate agents.
OVERVIEW In this initial stage of understanding the multiple express flight boarding scenario, our UX lead, UX designer, and I spoke with 10 gate agents and conducted gate observations, usability & concept testing, and iterative design based on feedback. I led the testing sessions and debriefed with the UX lead and UX designer to collaboratively work towards feasible design solutions for the problems we identified during our visit. Based on our observations and initial round of testing, the UX designer and I debriefed on our insights and tested a paper prototype based on the feedback we received. This became the basis of our iterative design process in the coming weeks when we were able to focus solely on the Jet multiple express flight boarding scenario, working proactively with product and business teams to use our research findings to impact design decisions and eventually handoff our final user-centered iterations.
KEY INSIGHTS THE PROBLEM WE NEED TO SOLVE FOR: Express gate agents struggle most with making sure passengers are boarded correctly, multi-tasking across multiple Gate Reader screens, and maintaining streamlined workflows on- and offline. Gate Reader is the boarding platform that we are now trying to sunset and bring its functionality onto Jet so that we have both flight and boarding management in one place. How do we streamline the multiple express flight boarding experience for gate agents to optimize accuracy, ease of use, and satisfaction for both gate agents and customers?
DESIGN TAKEAWAYS: Participants found the Jet prototype to be helpful and easy to use. With the customer lists, most agents reacted positively to the horizontal tab navigation, while a few did comment on being used to accordion lists or a minimal difference in value between accordions and tabs.
Most users mentioned that subgrouping customers by class is more helpful in international cases and that we should gauge feedback from those agents further. Agents thought that both the single- and multiple-flight boarding designs were intuitive and would make their jobs easier.
Iterative User Testing
Following the above study, we were able to revisit the multi-flight scenario several months later after handing off deliverables for the standard Jet flight management designs that would have the largest impact on all gate agents to expedite the deployment for interfaces that will be used most universally by our users.
Once the multi-flight designs became our roadmap priority, we implemented a 3-week consecutive iterative design testing study which involved me going to IAD every week to test designs and debrief with the UX designer to communicate findings and recommendations for improvement. The UX designer and I had a very communicative, collaborative relationship involving them actively in listening in on the testing sessions as available and mutually discussing the best course of action for the designs based on user feedback and cross-functional product/business team meetings. The following insights are direct work samples from the presentations that I created for each design sprint, which I presented to our stakeholders each week to support our design iteration and UX-related product roadmap decisions. You will be able to see the background overview, key findings, and recommendations from each sprint which will allow you to better understand the process and value behind each part of our design research.
WEEK 1 SPRINT:
WEEK 2 SPRINT:
WEEK 3 SPRINT:
We were able to successfully hand off and deploy the Jet multi-flight management platform for all United gate agents. By paying close attention to user needs and goals and defining our success metrics based upon them within the scope of our product/business teams, we were able to build a viable solution for our multi-express flight boarding gate agents who had become accustomed to a dispersed and delayed workflow. Throughout our subsequent interactions with IAD agents, we were able to see that users were becoming more open to trying out the Jet customer management platform and were actually looking forward to the release of the multi-flight management interface.
This project challenged me to juggle multiple dynamics of teamwork, planning, and execution that was unique to the air travel industry and United Airlines specifically, with their designated gate setups and workflows distinctive to them. I grew and learned a lot from this experience particularly in adapting to impromptu situations (i.e. sudden scheduling changes that cause us to speak with a small number of people, needing to go in-person for testing & research due to network issues & assistance required with technology, etc) and moving forward at varying paces based on changing roadmap priorities and for users and internal team members. I really enjoyed being able to consistently work with a specific niche group of people who are dealing with a unique scenario and also learning about how the global pandemic was impacting their workflows and expectations with the given scenario. If given the opportunity to work on this project again, I definitely would have considered doing more rounds of testing with larger numbers of people from varied experience levels and backgrounds to ensure a more accurate sampling of feedback.