Ryanair is one of the most recognizable airlines in Europe known for democratizing air travel for the masses.

Ryanair has orders for a further 380 new Boeing 737 aircraft, which will enable the company to lower fares and grow traffic from 105M passengers in 2016 to 180M p.a. in 2024. Ryanair has a team of more than 10,000 highly skilled aviation professionals.

Challenges

In 2014, Ryanair set about changing the perception of the company by launching an initiative aimed at improving customer experience. Ryanair’s approach was called “Always Getting Better.”

At around the same time, the airline launched Ryanair Labs, a digital and IT innovation hub based in Dublin which sought to “change the world of online travel.”

They began a massive recruitment drive for over 200 roles including digital marketers, software developers, data analytics specialists and user experience (UX) and design professionals.

The airline’s plan is to turn its website — which attracts 50M hits a month — into an online travel platform.

User experience (UX) was quickly recognized as a key area of focus and the UX team grew to 25 people as part of the wider digital team at Ryanair Labs. From the outset, design research was seen as an important part of keeping the user at the center of everything Ryanair was doing by providing actionable insight to improve the experience of the customer.

An ambitious target for the team was the development and launch of a brand new Ryanair website by the end of 2015. The new site was a key part of the wider “Always Getting Better” program and had a number of enhancements including drastically reducing the number of steps required to book a flight, an enhanced account section, allowing regular travellers to store information about their travel documents and payment card, and delivering a better, more consistent experience across mobile devices and channels.

The Research team at Ryanair had its own panel, and some external support from third party suppliers to conduct benchmarking, but what they really needed was a research partner who could help deliver large scale quantitative insight from remote user testing.

Solution

The Ryanair research team chose to utilize UserZoom’s remote usability testing expertise with task-based research, which measured the user experience of 100 people per test.

The tasks assessed specific user scenarios such as how to select the cheapest fare or book certain travel dates. Users were timed and recorded as they navigated the Ryanair test site to complete these set objectives. Tests were also created to measure first impressions, discoverability and the ‘look and feel’ of the website from early prototype development through to launch.

The strategy was for the unmoderated testing to generate a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, and for these tests to be conducted in more phases than before.

UserZoom has allowed Ryanair to increase the numbers of users involved in the research process and at the same time enabled them to deliver the results back to the organization quicker than ever before.

This enabled the UX research and usability testing to fit seamlessly into the rapid, agile development cycle in Ryanair Labs.

It was critical that the testing was carried out across all channels – Smartphone, Tablet and Desktop – and on different platforms (Android, iOS, Windows) as one of the key upgrades to the new Ryanair website was to implement a responsive website design.

The research was designed to test, iterate and validate a consistent, seamless experience for users on all devices and on every platform.

In addition, Ryanair ran some of the same scenario tests on the websites of competitors, providing the research team with benchmarking insight. Direct competitor and industry wide benchmarking is something the company is now conducting continuously thanks to the ability of UserZoom to perform such testing on a regular basis.

Key to the business’ new digital strategy is a commitment to “be disruptive in it’s vertical and to provide its customers with the best experience through our platform.” Ryanair is able to compare UX performance and ensure this goal is being achieved through regular benchmarking.

Results

Rui Pereira, Senior UX Researcher at Ryanair Labs, said “UserZoom provided the research with a quick turnaround which was critical in the period leading up to the launch of the new website.

Previously, we had a reliance on lab based, face-to-face usability testing. Typically these sessions would take 2 to 3 weeks to plan, conduct and report, and focused on a targeted profile sample of 10-20 users. This reliance caused significant bottlenecks for us in terms of our testing schedule versus our development schedule.

Now with UserZoom, and the same budget, we have more flexibility to conduct simultaneous tests with hundreds of users, across our international markets and turnaround these activities in line with our development schedule, while still having resources to conduct other research streams too.

The remote testing gave us the scale and reach in the design testing process, and a wealth of data that we did not have access to before. The insight was fed into the design team quickly through an agile and lean reporting process, much to the delight of our UX and development teams who were working to tight deadlines.”

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