Making travel marketplace trustworthy

Wego is the largest online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2016, the search experience was redesigned to acommodate the changing demographics of Wego users having various usage.

We were tasked to help travellers find their travel packages quickly, and at the same time bring the right travel products provided by our business partners to the right customers. The focused metric was the conversion rate of the search funnel.

Role

Design research Interaction design Interface design

Year

June 2016 - January 2017

Role

I led the design project from research phase in June 2016 to the finalisation of the interface design in January 2017. I worked as the only designer for Flight Search and with another designer in designing for Hotel Search.

Problems

As travelling had become more accessible and affordable to people, designing for any travel marketplace needed to consider different needs of all customers. The diversity in purposes and demographics of travellers posed a challenge in designing for Wego to help customers find the right travel products.

We gathered customers’ qualitative feedback and recognised that people had many different expectations when reaching our platform. These expectations were either different or higher than what we designed the search experience in 2013 for. We also recognised many drop-off points in the search funnel in Google Analytics, which validated our initial qualitative insights.

The funnel in Google Analytics showed that people had a hard time finding the right travel products.
We looked at purposes and constraints when people travel to build the context of our design.

Reframed challenge

How to gain trust from customers and manage their expectation of values throughout the funnel from the search form to the final booking with our business partners?

We identified the themes of problems and worked out the solution criteria as well.

Solution

Transparent + Fair = Trustworthy

A meta-search website build trustworthiness by being transparent about available data and fair to all products in the marketplace. With a database having data of all flights and hotels, we provide transparent travel information so that people can make informed decision. Having more data comes with the responsibility to extract and show the meaningful bits. An user-centric marketplace does not simply display as many products as possible, but need to make the decision-making process worry-free for the customers. We also wanted to show the right products from our partners to our users without any hidden bias.

Transparent

A problem for any travel search engine is the time required for data polling after user hit button Search, which make people feel like waiting for long time. In this design concept, the problem is solved by a progressive loading animation. The new loading animation intend to create a sense of frictionless experience, taking people to their exciting destination by having big image and “opening up” movement of elements. My idea is inspired by article The Illusion of Time, by Adrian, which introduces solving time perception with illusion, instead of actual speed. The design also displays which business partners our platform is working with to provide the best results.

Animation of search transition.

Fair

We wanted to help customers, both experienced and inexperienced travellers, make informed decision based on their travel preferences. At the same time, we wanted to help bring the right travel products from our business partners to the right customers.

Button design has value differential indicators.
Hotel partners are displayed with their offers to indicate value differences.

Flexible + Helpful = Empowering

The act of searching is active, and, therefore, we want to empower our customer with flexible ways to view the results and be responsive and helpful when they are likely to be confused.

Helpful

Most customers want to get the cheapest (with flexible timing), the fastest (to save time), or the most comfortable (especially long flight) options. We, therefore, made these the sorting orders to improve their usage.

Flight sorting with clear labels justifying its price.
To help those customers not used to filters, we provide contextual filters for flight search.

Flexible

The collapsible filters allow a quick overview of what people can select. The UI components such as dropdown, slider and checkbox are used to help user find their preferred flights. The status at the top shows how many flights are being displayed out of how many flights found in the search unfiltered. When people choose Show All, all filters are reset. The copy Show All is proven to be clearer than Reset. Google Analytics showed that using certain filters lead to higher conversion rate of booking. The order of filters was based on this finding.

New filters was added and the most commonly and requested ones were prioritised in the interface.

In mobile interface, the filter control stays at bottom of the screen for better usability. The commonly used filters are visible while other filters are accessed through button More.

The filters were designed according to common constraints travellers have.

Component-based design process

As our products are on desktop, tablet, mobile devices with different screen sizes, we designed the responsive components firstly then compiled them all into pages and screens. Each component went through many rounds of iteration and the library of components is maintained and shared among designers in our team.

The component-based design process was inspired by Design Sprint of GV.

Results

The redesign of search experience was launched in July 2017. Conversion rate from the search form to the handoffs to our partners’ website went up significantly. The usage rate of filters was higher. After this launch, Wego received another round of funding in August and September 2017.

Reflection

Two achievements I am proud of the most when working in Wego are the integration of design in product development, and the synergy of design team.

Designers belonged to the project team and worked along with developers, product managers and business managers to understand both business and development of the product. Its value has been proven by the consistency between the designed and implemented user experience.

In March 2015, I was the only hire in design team in Singapore office. Our team grew to four by end of 2015. I established workflow to help design team instill core principles of design across different projects and grow as individual by giving honest feedback and critique to each other’s work. This synergy has been reflected well in the improvement and consistency of user experience in all of our products since 2015.

All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect Wego's view.