Airline Entertainment Redesign
Overview

This was a final project for my HCI Design Methods class. We performed user research in order to come up with a functionally-improved entertainment system for airlines.

Problem Statement

We distributed a survey among people to understand pain points related to airline travel, and arrived at two important conclusions:

  • • A majority of the passengers in long flights rely on the entertainment system (especially movies) for passing time.
  • • Most of those using the entertainment systems, face issues using it and are not completely satisfied with their experience.

We decided to go ahead and solve this problem by designing a new entertainment system that solves our users' issues.

Users and audience

Our target users were anyone flying an airplane with an entertainment system.

Team and my role

I worked on this project with two classmates. Along with solely being responsible for creating the initial user surveys, we equally contributed to the following processes:

• User interviews
• Brainstorming and ideation
• Low-fidelity prototype creation
• Initial user testing
• High-fidelity prototype creation
• Final user testing
• Design Improvements based on user feedback

Tools used

Adobe Experience Design (xD), Adobe Cloud

Design Process
User Research

I created an initial survey using Qualtrics about how frequently and how long our users fly, their experiences and issues with current entertainment systems, and any other in-flight issues in general. We sent this survey to our friends, colleagues and social circles. You can check out the survey here if interested.

When we asked our survey respondents for reasons for not being satisfied by the entertainment system, most of the respondents said that the ‘touchscreen is not responsive’. From the survey answers, our participants also indicated dissatisfaction with the information architecture and user-friendliness of the menus, obstructive ways of interacting with the unit, and quality of the headphones provided by airlines.

Next, we selected 5 participants who have flown in long flights at least once, who would help us by evaluating our designs and prototypes as they progressed. Further interviews with the participants helped us further understand the issues that needed to be addressed.

Notable quotes from the interviews:
"I mostly always entertain myself by using the in-flight entertainment system. I watched 3 and a half movies the last time I flew!"
• "At times the touch-screens are not very sensitive, so I have to tap on it forcibly."
• "The movies are arranged in a funny way where I need to keep scrolling to select the one I want."
• "I find having to get up to go to the bathroom with all the wires and things on me annoying."

Based on the feedback that we got from our survey and interviews with the 5 participants, the following were the most critical issues that needed attention, along with the solutions that we implemented in our low-fidelity prototype:

  1. Poor screen responsiveness: Our solution proposed the use of latest screen technologies to remove an inconvenience that most of our participants faced: interacting with a resistive screen that needs to be tapped with excessive force to be operated.
  2. Fixed screen position: Our solution suggested the use of a display device that can be held by the users in their hands, providing them with a more personal, comfortable entertainment experience.
  3. The on-screen menu: We decided to design an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface that features logical menus that make it easy to browse across entertainment options.
  4. Complex ways of interacting: By making the unit detachable and operable via touch, we removed the hassle of having a complex interacting device such as a remote, and its added wires, that were reported by participants to be annoying.
  5. Screen glare: Our solution provided a “Dark UI” mode that protected the user from excessive glare. The UI made it easy for users to adjust the brightness of the screen as well. To add to it, the dark mode also could also prevent the user from disturbing their sleeping neighbour with the glare from their screen.
  6. Headphones: Our system proposed the use of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones to reduce ambient noise for the passenger as they enjoy their entertainment.
  7. Reduced turnaround time for attendant requests: Our system implemented a way for the passenger to directly request an airline attendant for a common items, such as food, a beverage, a blanket, etc., so as to reduce turnaround times and the effort for flight attendants for going back and forth across the aisles.
  8. Restroom-occupancy status: We included a way for passengers to see the occupancy of restrooms available for their ticket without having to get up or turn around.
Low-fidelity prototypes

Our next step was to create a low-fidelity prototype and test it using the Think-aloud method. These are a few photos of the prototype:

High-fidelity prototypes

We designed a high-fidelity prototype based on the results and suggestions provided by our participants on testing our low-fi prototype.

The following is an overview of the changes that we made to our prototype based on the obtained feedback:

  1. According to feedback, we decided to remove the “Medical Emergency” section altogether, since we agreed with the feedback that if there was an emergency in this context, the people involved may prefer to call out for help rather than use an on-screen technological option.
  2. We made a “settings” button and put all our adjustment-related settings (AC control, light control, Volume control, Dark Mode and Connect to laptop/Mobile) under that.
  3. For the part where the users can talk to the flight attendant about something specific or something that is not on the menu (like allergy info), we created a small section where the users can type in a message and send in their requests.
  4. We removed the ‘Air Chat’ feature, as with some research and testing, we found out that not a lot of our participants would actually use this.
  5. We grouped Flight Info, Maps and News updates into one section.
  6. We made the UI more interactive and changed some icons to ones that users could better identify with.
Final Design Prototype

After designing the high-fidelity prototype, the next step was to test it for usability issues. All the 5 participants tested the prototype and had positive feedback about the whole experience. Also, their comments on the new features of Seat bidding and Message your Attendant were very encouraging.

There were some small alterations/modifications that we implemented in our prototypes based on our observations and our user's suggestions.

  1. Addition of a ‘Back’ button on the top-left hand side of each screen.
  2. Displayed costs of each item on the shopping list.
  3. Added confirmation screen after requesting the Flight Attendant for an item.
  4. Provided an option to customize the requested item by adding a message box with the final confirmation button.
  5. Included a shopping cart feature.
Prototype Links

Link to Adobe XD prototype
I also made a fun video to demonstrate flyer's problems and our (mock) solution to them. You can check it out here: https://youtu.be/H26hqaBMlG0

Conclusion

This was a great practical experience in designing a product iteratively with constant feedback from potential users. I'm always pleasantly surprised to find various airlines starting to implement various features that we proposed in our design, indicating that our design actually had some great ideas for improving the experience of flyers.

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