AirportNAV – Improving The SeaTac Airport Experience with Navigation and More

AirportNAV was my year long senior capstone project created while attending school at the University of Washington Bothell. I worked within a team of four students (pictured below) in a completely remote environment during COVID-19. I was the project lead, graphic designer, and illustrator. Our team goal was to improve the SeaTac Airport experience.

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Michele Chao
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Taishi Hayakawa
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Yeliz Simitci
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Jessica Price (Me)

Final AirportNAV Presentation

An Introduction to AirportNAV

Guidance for the project was provided by our stakeholders, a team at Alaska Airlines. We met with the team on a bi-weekly basis. They gave us feedback on our work, suggestions for improvement, and gave us access to their user testing system for our desirability interviews and usability testing.

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Problem Statement

The process of navigating through SeaTac airport can be stressful for many individuals. Visitors need to get to their gate by a specific time and there are many obstacles that can affect the amount of time that it takes to get through the airport. For example:

  • Losing track of time
  • Delayed TSA screening
  • Getting lost on the way to their gate
  • Locating a specific item, food, service
  • Waiting in lines (security, food, shopping, boarding)

Personas

Our primary user was Ellen Miller, who represents mothers, or primary care providers with young infants. We also created secondary personas based on users that needed other assistance within the airport such as accessible routes, access to pet relief areas, translation services, assistance with time management, and direction due to being a first-time flier.

persona-matrix

We selected our primary user by creating a Persona Matrix where we illustrated the number of pain points in comparison to interest from faculty and stakeholders. New mothers had the most amount of pain points and interests, so we made them our project focus.

Project Ideation

Miro-Brainstorming

Our team worked together to brainstorm specific pain points for our audience. In addtion, we thought about the services within the airport that are difficult to locate and the services that our users often don't know about. Finally, we thought about ways that we could improve their airport experience and pain point solutions.

Storyboards

This storyboard for Ellen Miller illustrates what her experience was like as she was given turn-by-turn directions through SeaTac airport with AirportNAV. The app guided her on the quickest route through security, to the correct train, and to her desired destinations which included a coffee shop, nursing pod, restroom, and her gate.

Competitive Analysis

AirportNAV-Competitive-Analysis

My team and I conducted a competitive analysis with some other applications that would be used for travel. Delta Airlines and United Airlines where identified as our top competitors. All of the competing apps offered varying levels of interactive maps. However, we found that none of the apps offered maps with location-based wayfinding navigation. This then became our priority for our project.

Journey Maps

Journey-Map

We created a journey map that illustrates Ellen's emotions, thoughts, and questions as she progresses through her travel experience. Creating the journey map helped us identify several pain points and questions that we could anticipate as she packs her back, travels to the airport, and goes through security.

Desirability Interviews

interview-3

Our team conducted seven interviews within UserTesting.com. We filtered our participants using a screener. We interviewed mothers who had flown at least one time within the past year on a major airline that flies out of SeaTac Airport, has a smart phone, uses travel mobile apps, have at least one child, and have flown with children under the age of four.

What We Learned
  • Mothers get lost and struggle to find products, services, and their gate
  • Mothers were not aware of all the available services
  • Mothers forget to pack items that they need because they have so many items to pack
  • Mothers struggle with TSA because of:
    • Long lines and wait times
    • Having to throw stuff away that isn’t TSA compliant
Possible Solutions
  • Provide turn-by-turn directions through the airport
  • Provide directions to suggested locations that would be relevant to each user
  • Provide estimated security line times
  • Provide an info section with information on what is TSA compliant
  • Provide a customizable packing checklist

Initial Wireframe

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Our team created a wireframe as we started to layout the interface for AirportNAV. Each screen illustrates what will show up when select the tabs on the lower navigation. This includes the home screen offering flight information, a map tab for navigation, a chat tab to call for assistance, an info tab that gives you useful information around the airport, and a general settings tab to adjust user preferences.

Other Project Assets

Feasibility

Routed_screenshot

We researched the feasibility on creating an indoor GPS map for SeaTac by doing a small feasibility study within a local grocery store. During this piece of the process, I found that I could use the ArcGIS collector app on a mobile device to collect geographic information on routes and locations within the airport that users would want to stop at. At the grocery store I collected GNSS (global navigation satellite system) lines/routes down every aisle. Then, I collected GNSS point data within the different store sections and aisles. I tagged each point with photos and descriptions. Later I accessed the data within ArcGIS Pro where I was able to clean it up and develop routes. I then found that the map could be downloaded and integrated into an existing app, or an app could be developed around the map using ArcGIS Web App Builder.

Usability Testing

We conducted five usability testing sessions within UserTesting.com using the same screener used during our desirability interviews. UserTesting.com. Our testing participants were mothers who had flown at least one time within the past year on a major airline that flies out of SeaTac Airport, has a smart phone, uses travel mobile apps, have at least one child, and have flown with children under the age of four. We created a usability script to maintain consistency between sessions.

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View the interactive Adobe XD Prototype used in testing.

Usability Testing Insights

Moms found that navigation within the airport would be very valuable because they need to catch their flight on time and getting lost can be very stressful and potentially costly.
  • “Airports are confusing so it would be nice to know where to go.”
  • “The airport is huge and half of the stuff is always a mile away.”
Moms thought the packing checklist was useful because it helps them remember what is needed for their flight and also has all the information grouped together in one place.
  • “I will forget the diapers and the baby wipes or something else important so a checklist is very, very useful.”
  • “It’s helpful to start a list because then I’ll go ‘oh yeah, I need to make sure that I have all of this with me.
  • “I like it when everything is all in one place.”
Moms found that information about restaurants and stores would be very valuable because it allows them to see what is available to them and help them find what they want faster.
  • “I like to know what the options are. I want to see the price and access all the info in one location.”
  • “Information about restaurants and stores would help me make a clear decision on whether I want to go.”
Moms found that walking distance times would be very valuable because it could help them determine if they have enough time to go purchase an item before a flight.
  •  “I would definitely value walking distance times because I would know if I had enough time to go do something or get something and then get back to my gate, or wherever I need to go. It would be helpful.”
Moms prefer to have the ability to add multiple stops to their navigation rather than one at a time because it allowed them to streamline their route and save time.
  • “I would prefer the ability to add multiple stops because if I am in a hurry I could get everything in there and have my directions guide me as I go.”
  • “When I fly, I travel to my gate first and along the way, I kinda see what’s in my route. Once I get to my gate, I turn around and get back to what I wanted, but with this app I could see everything all at once.”
Moms thought having more labeling on maps during navigation would be helpful because it gives more precise information about their surroundings so that they know they’re on the right path.
  • “I like knowing that this is the right spot – I might get anxious like what’s here to the left, what’s here to the right, and it offers me more flexibility when I’m walking.”
  • “I like a lot of information. I’ll know that there’s restrooms or something else available, so I know where I’m going in case I need to find something else.”
Moms didn’t think security line time estimates would be valuable because they would question their accuracy.
  • "I would like security line times in general but it depends on how accurate they are. If it takes longer than expected that’s a problem.”
  • “If I am by myself I usually go pretty early so it wouldn’t be valuable but if I’m with my family I generally can’t get there as early so it would be more valuable.”

Final Prototype

Final Reflection

What was the main challenge? How did I handle it?

The project was completed in a remote environment during COVID-19. If the pandemic had not been an issue we would have been able to spend more time at SeaTac airport doing on-site research and could have worked together in person. Our team perservered through these challenges by using a variety of online collaborative tools, doing online research, and conducting remote interviews using Alaska Airlines usability testing system. I now have a lot of experience working in a remote environment and I would say that I am well adjusted. I look forward to having a flexible work experience that will allow me to come into the office and work from home one day.

What are some of the lessons I learned during the course of the project?

I learned that I enjoy leading usability tests and interviews more than I thought I would. At first I found them incredibly intimidating and awkward but once I got a feel for what I was doing I really enjoyed speaking with the interviewees and uncovering information the team and I hadn't previously thought of.

I learned to not rush into prototyping and really embrace the research phases. Really diving deep into the research phase and learning everything you can will set a project up for success in later phases.

Has the project changed my outlook as a designer?

Yes, before working on this project I had not considered becoming a UX designer. When I was doing the work for the project I was surprised to find out that it could be something I would enjoy and possibly excel at with more experience.

What are the next steps for the project?

If we were to continue working on the project we would expand on the map that was created in Adobe Illustrator by integrating the dining, shopping, and airport services that we had categorized during a map analysis. This would improve searching and navigating within the app.

Additionally, we would continue usability testing on the packing list to find out whether new moms would want suggestions on which items are TSA compliant or if they would prefer it to be a list they populate themselves.

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 Copyright © 2021 - Jessica R. Price