Case study

Thomas Cook Airlines

A flying companion

The challenge

By 2018, Thomas Cook Airlines were late to market with their native app. We turned that into an advantage by learning from the mistakes of competitors and diverging from the market-wide formula.

As europe’s leading holiday airline, Thomas Cook Airlines aimed to bring customers to their destination ready to relax and enjoy their holiday. As part of a small in house UX team, I optimised the design of the app to reduce stress and simplify the flying experience.


What I did

  • UX design
  • Information architecture
  • Concepting & prototyping
  • UI design
  • Motion design


01.

Focus on salient information

Temporal checklist

Using a jobs-to-be done framework, I mapped customer needs across the timeline from booking to take-off. The timeline became the conceptual foundation of the design. It developed into an elegant system for delivering information at the time it’s needed most.

Action cards

The interface focuses on action cards. Each card gives a piece of valuable information and a call to action. The information and tasks are mapped to the context and needs of the passenger. This simple concept masked a powerful architecture of flows that allowed passengers to edit any part of their flight configuration.

The action card concept resulted in an elegant, flat, and consistant structure. Actions and processes were one tap away and always returned to the homescreen, ready for the next action card.


Staying focused

We guerrilla tested the protoype, and observed multiple action cards created clutter and diluted focus. We constrained the number of visible action cards to one. To achieve this, we devised a priority system to ensure delivery of the most salient card at any given moment.

Action cards have a validity period and a number representing the relative priority of the cards with optional properties for state. The extensible approach became the foundation for a multi-platform messaging API built in Firebase.

02.

Flight info on-the-go

Inverting the hierarchy

Traditional airline apps use the flight as the primary navigation concept, which creates a deep navigation structure. Our research revealed the information was most often accessed in transit, so deep structures were a no-no.

We created views that showed a single ancillary across multiple flights and a much simpler itinerary layout. This allowed us to remove vague button labels like “overview”, flatten the navigation, and make ancillary data accessible via one tap. Fast and focused.


03.

Express the brand voice

Branding opportunities

The Thomas Cook Airlines brand was defined as cheerful, refreshing, progressive and transparent. I expressed the personality of the brand by crafting details in the interface. Animation, copywriting and colour choices gave me opportunities to communicate the persona.

The details

Cheerful

We wanted to be reassuring, even when things don’t go to plan. Delays appeared in hot pink instead of red, which felt less intimidating.

Progressive

Up-to-date OS design patterns like the bottom sheet conveyed the idea we were looking forward, not back.

Refreshing

We defined transitions as rapid and reassuringly solid. The home screen destination image had a subtle parallax effect to create depth.

Transparent

We moved away from vague terms like “overview” and “summary”. We spoke directly to passengers using “we” and “you”.


RIP Thomas Cook

The 200-year old Thomas Cook Group ceased trading in 2019. The package holiday business struggled to recover from debt generated by a controversial acquisition a decade earlier. To the end, the airline remained one of Thomas Cook's only profitable subsidiaries. I feel proud to have contributed to it's success.


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