Product Designers like Janice Chen are key members of Guestlogix's team. Working alongside engineers, product managers, they define user experience so our products are frictionless and fun to use. Janice and her team are responsible for the Crew App, the tool thousands of crew use to transact across the world. 

I had a chance to sit down with Janice to ask about observational user testing, the challenges of designing for passengers and crews, and the secret sauce for designing products that our customers love to use. 

In this blog, Janice shares insight into her world of designing awesome experiences for all of our users. Check out our conversation below. 

Q: First and foremost, let’s talk about what UX is, because it’s definitely more encompassing than it might seem from the outside! 

A: For sure! It’s all in the name, right? UX is user experience, and UX design is a user-centered approach for designing everything. It focuses on the end user experience as a journey, so it’s about how we make the end-to-end experience all mesh together in a way that’s frictionless and enjoyable for our users. 

An awesome user experience helps crews find what they need and do their duties efficiently. And for passengers, it’s the difference between a loyal customer and a fleeing visitor.

Q: You mentioned two groups you design for: crews and passengers. To start, how do you make an awesome UX experience for crews? 

A: Well, Guestlogix has been designing for crews for more than 15 years. And because we’ve had such a wide range of customers over different continents and fleet sizes, using different currencies and payment methods, we have a ton of behavioral data and feedback to iterate from. 

A huge part of our approach is based on observation. When we observe crews using our product in the real-life context of doing their jobs, that’s where we get real insights. So we fly along with our customers, observe their crew training, and even run simulations to push the limits of our user experience. 

Observation has taught us that the environment crews use our product in matters a lot. We need to think about not just how crews are navigating the app, but also how they’re navigating the physical space they work in. And we have to reduce the cognitive load around things like connectivity, online and offline payments, and connection to bluetooth card readers. 

And the other thing that makes us different is that, all of the power we put into crews’ hands to facilitate sales, we also give to passengers. That’s super important for user experience for both crews and guests.

Q: I wanted to ask you about that! It’s easy to see why putting self-service in passengers’ hands is impactful: first of all, it’s a revenue driver. And then for crews, you reduce the need for intervention, so it’s faster and easier to service the plane. And for passengers, it meets their expectations from on-the-ground mobile ordering from giants like Uber Eats. 

A: When we were building this feature, we called the project “connected cabin.” Connection’s really at the heart of it, and it has to work at different levels at the same time. 

On one level, there’s managing the internet connection for the ability to always transact. Not all planes have WiFi. Sometimes it’s really expensive. And even if the plane has a connection, that doesn’t mean it’s reliable. So we designed a system that works just as well offline as it does online.

On a deeper level, “connected cabin” is about connecting crews and passengers for the entire flight. Crews have a big job, and cabin service is only a part of it. So we put the power in passengers’ hands so they have a connection to their crews for the whole flight, and not just when the crew is walking down the aisle with the cart. Plus, information is connected through things like real time inventory updates, which help both parties feel informed and in control.

Q: When you’re designing an experience for crews, what’s important?

A:IMG_3334 (1) As a user, sometimes it can be hard to tell whether or not a product is usable. But it’s incredibly obvious when it’s not! To make a thing usable, there are three elements that are important: it needs to be functional, efficient, and desirable.

The challenge is to figure out the context, logistics, and processes to make sure the product is useful and will improve efficiency. So we do interviews, study usage data, and observe crews  working in the actual business scenario. You have to make sure your design is flexible enough that, when you make new discoveries, you can adjust. 

For example, I went to crew training with one of our partners and noticed that there was a lot of uncertainty around making sure the iPads had the right permissions enabled. Everyone stood up to take a photo of the training slide! So we completely redesigned the permissions screens inside the app to onboard crews through that process, and we made those settings stick so they don’t need to be reconfigured every flight.

Q: How is it different when you’re designing for passengers? 

A: Going back to those three elements of usability – functionality, efficiency, and desirability – passengers care a lot about desirability. So it’s about making the experience engaging, rewarding, and enticing across their entire journey, from booking a trip to traveling to going home. For me, that means going cross-platform is so important: if I’m at home, I might want to use the web and when I’m traveling, I’m using mobile. And I also might be online or offline – I probably don’t have internet connectivity in the air, for example, but my expectations to be always-connected don’t necessarily change. 

Passenger experience is super important for airlines. A more personalized journey with that airline will give them a good impression of that airline and also keep them on the app longer, which leads to more selling. Customer satisfaction and revenue are so intertwined!

Q: What feedback have you received from crews and customers that's stuck in your mind? 

I got to interview a flight attendant who worked for two airlines that both used Guestlogix’s platform. She told me that the app was really easy to use and easy to learn. That made me really happy to hear, because it’s not okay to design a hard-to-use app just because someone can be trained to use it! So for me, those two pieces of feedback together were so nice to hear.

Q: Anything else you want to share? 

A: Airlines aren’t just our customers. They’re our partners! We work together and share information to make this product great. Because of those relationships over so many years in business, we have a product that gives airlines all the tools to serve the business scenario: fulfillment, operations, business requirements, regulations, you name it. The more we’re able to collaborate, the faster and better we’re able to develop a product that serves the market at large. 

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