The following project came out of a brief to design an in flight entertainment system for an airline marketed at millenials. The interface had to be usable with both touchscreen and a D Pad remote. From research to the prototype, everything was completed in a two day sprint. The research and testing were very lean, but revealed a lot of great insights. There is a temptation to cater to the stereotypical or percieved desires of millenials, however, it was revealed that most users want a simple, high quality product.
Five people were interviewed on their recent plane travels as well as their content consumption. Participants were aged between 16 and 34 had all flown in the past 12 months. Given the time restrictions of the project, this methodology was also used to design and test some product features ad hoc. Respondents were proposed some features that are common in products popular with millennials. These included a camera with filters, content sharing between seats and an AR map. These were either not desirable or not wanted by the majority of respondents. Most participants' priorities were the quality and range of the content itself and accessing it with minimal interaction. Other common themes included the level of stimulation on a plane and the need for quiet time, stress caused by other passengers’ behaviour, technical issues with the hardware causing mistrust, coordinating the length of content with the duration of the trip, as well as disorientation in terms of time and plane location. Plane stress cannot be ‘solved’, but it is important that all passenger services are designed to relieve it in some way. Two of the most productive interviews are summarised in the following personas.
A paper prototype was employed in formative user testing with two respondents. Users were seated with the product in front of them to simulate the context of an aeroplane. Given that a D pad is more restrictive than a touch screen, respondents were instructed to operate the product with a dummy remote and used a Think Aloud protocol to indicate navigation. Both respondents passed all tasks, the only issues arising were in relation to taxonomy and iconography. A grayscale clickable prototype was tested on an additional user. Although the prototype cannot fully simulate the D remote or context, the reaction was positive and the user passed all tasks.
On the playback screen, 'More' gave the impression there would be additional functions. This should be changed to 'Info'. One respondent did not know if the local time was for the origin, destination or current location. This should include the destination name. There was poor affinity with the attendant icon. This should be more clear. One respondent said they would change the volume and brightness using the remote. However, given the variations in hardware between plane models, this feature will remain in the product in following iterations.
The following three flows were the focus of testing and prototyping.
UI and Visual Design
Due to the restriction of a D Pad remote, it is cumbersome to have to use a combination of the up and down arrows. It is better to repeat the model of horizontal browsing so users can use the left right arrows or swipe left and right. This is established from the very first screen with the configuration of languages.
Touch screens may be flexible, but given the contextual stresses and disorientation of flying, a consistent system is best. A grid facilitates ideal use of a D Pad as well as being a familiar layout for millennial users.
Availability of Flight Information
As arose in interviews, users find comfort in familiarising themselves with where the plane is and at how far into the journey they are at any given point. This has been integrated into the home screen as well as playback.
IFE is often used after the lights have dimmed, while other passengers are trying to sleep, or as the user themselves are starting to fall asleep. For this reason, the brightness function is accessible from most screens and all backgrounds are dark. The wallpaper of the homescreen also changes to reflect the time of day at the destination, helping the user adjust in an empathetic way.
Icons are a key part of the UI because of the international
nature of the product. These employ a consistent line
drawing style which is familiar to a millennial audience.