Flight Search

Time frame:Feb - Mar 2016

Role:Researcher, Designer

I designed improvements to user experience for searching flights on Ryanair.com.

Every day 900K flight searches are run on Ryanair’s home-page. This flight search widget suffered from some critical user experience issues which impacted conversions.

I performed research to identify key usability issues, prioritized the issues, designed improvements and got business buy-in to implement them.

Flight Select - Case Study


At Ryanair, I started working in the ‘Booking’ team where the team’s primary goal was to improve the flight booking experience. This project specifically focused on making customer’s ‘flight search’ experience intuitive, easy and intelligent. From a business perspective, these improvements would help achieve higher booking conversions with ease of information discovery.

Design process


I started defining the project by:

  • Engaging with key business stakeholders (such as the Field Yield team) to define the project objectives and success parameters
  • Identifying the major project milestones, defined process for each milestone and corresponding timelines of completion

Problem Identification

I had realized that the search experience suffered from critical user experience issues, through my preliminary testing. To further identify the problems I looked at the following:

  1. the existing user research through prior usability testings
  2. Hotjar (a visual analytics tool) recordings, to view how users interacted with the flight search widget
  3. data from Ryanair’s data insights team to validate my findings

Theses we the problems I identified:

Search widget

  • Capabilities such as keyword search (country, city), auto-correct and alternative suggestions were not present. Given the current context of search on Google, Amazon, these capabilities have become a common user expectation.
  • Current behaviour for unavailable routes (destinations we don't fly from a selected departure airport) is confusing. It was observed that customers chose a destination and then got stuck on the calendar without realising that they couldn’t proceed because they picked a route we don't fly.
  • Date selection is cumbersome for travel in the future. Customers need to repeatedly scroll the calendar to select future travel date.

Iterative flight search

  • Modify search capability was hidden and only 3% of the customers used it
  • On the other hand, 36% of the users returned to the homepage for an iterative search rather than using the modify search capability

Flight selection

  • User did not have an option to search flight options for all airports in a city in a single search
  • When a flight search result yielded multiple results, capabilities to sort and filter the results was not present, making it difficult for the user to discover and choose the right option

Design concepts

I developed solutions for each of the problems that had been identified through research. Below, is a summary of the concepts that I created:

Search widget

  • To display airport selection options when a city, country and other commonly used regional keywords (for e.g. Scotland, GB, etc.) are entered
  • ‘Smart suggestions’ as alternatives for unavailable flight route options
  • Monthly toggle for date selection

Iterative flight search

  • Condensed version of search widget on the flight selection page i.e. page subsequent to flight search, so that customer doesn’t have to return to the home page

Flight selection

  • To search flight options for all airports within a city, in a single search. This was referred to as Multi-airport city feature.
  • Ability to sort search results by user selected option: by cost, by landing time, by airport, etc.


I engaged with the developers to define high level implementation requirements, perform feasibility assessment and estimate effort levels. This was essential to enable prioritization of the identified problems for solution implementation

Prioritization with the PO

I collaborated with the product owner to prioritize the problems for solution based on three parameters: (1) usability issue severity, (2) business impact, (3) development sizing

Business buy-in for Implementation

With limited development resources, it was a significant challenge to get business buy-in to implement the proposed solutions. I presented the prioritization plans to the Head of Digital with emphasis on solutions that could get us the biggest bang for our money i.e. highest business impact and usability severity and lowest development cost. I succeeded in getting the buy-in to get take the project to the implementation phase.

Usability study & design improvements

For mutli-airport city capability, I developed two solutions and then performed usability studies to identify which design would serve better.

To achieve this, I recruited six members from the internal Ryanair usability panel and conducted ‘think aloud’ in-person session using mobile prototypes of the design.

Development Support

To implement the solutions I supported the development team in following ways:

  1. Worked closely with the business analyst in writing user stories i.e implementation development tasks
  2. Contributed in the sprint estimation and planning
  3. Worked with QA to ensure design implementation of high quality


This project was a success for the product and the team.

  1. It resulted in substantial improvement to the experience of searching for flights
  2. It led to coming together of a well functioning agile scrum team. The process set up for working with Developers & QA is being used for future projects.