There is a plethora of flight booking websites in India: MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Ixigo, Ezeego etc. I have tended to mainly use MakeMyTrip. That is, until now.
Enter Cleartrip which delivers, simply put, a great user experience.
Design, Layout & Navigation
- The layout and navigation are simple, uncluttered and clear. Good use of whitespace. The visual design is obviously inspired by Google. Who better to ape?
- From and To cities are autocomplete textboxes so I can type the first few letters of the city name rather than having to select the city from a long list like with some other travel websites. The autocomplete is smart so I can type the airport code instead:
UX Lesson: It’s easier to type when the user has to choose from lots of data.
Typing is easier than pointing and clicking. That’s why I think Spotlight is so awesome and Desktop Search is the killer feature in Windows 7.
The site feels quite snappy (much faster than the other sites out there).
UX Lesson: Performance is a key part of the overall user experience.
‘Memory’, Ease of Booking & Account Creation
- I was searching for some flights but got interrupted and when I went back to the site it remembered the details of my last search. Note that I didn’t create an account – it just remembered.
- I didn’t have to create an account to book my flights. I just needed to provide the minimum information required to make a booking and pay for the flights and I received an email with my ticket details.
- What happened next is great. I received a separate email saying that an account had been created using the basic information I have provided at the time of booking. I had the option to activate the account by providing a password and some additional details. This is a great example of breaking down barriers to using your application.
UX Lesson: Be smart about the information you collect and remember it so that the user doesn’t have to retype it.
UX Lesson: Don’t force the user to create an account unless absolutely necessary.
Everyone hates creating accounts. Nobody wants to keep track of yet another username and password. So the best thing you can do is simply to let the user use an account he already has. OpenID seems to be the de-facto way to achieve this and StackOverflow does an excellent job. Kudos to Jeff Atwood.
Other Little Things That Make a Big Difference
- The subject of the confirmation email is clear and meaningful: Ticket for Mumbai – New Delhi one-way flight — Trip ID XXXXXXXX. This is great if I’m searching my mail in a hurry to print out the ticket or check flights details. Much more useful than something like MakeMyTrip E-Ticket for Booking ID FLT0000XXXXXX
- If I log in, I can see a list of upcoming trips and cancel tickets. I can also apparently see the refund amount before I cancel but this didn’t work for me because of some fare code information not being updated or something. But at least Cleartrip was good enough to give me a plausible reason for this feature not working as advertised and provide customer service contact details.
UX Lesson: UX is about paying attention to lots of little things that all combine together to make a big difference.
The user experience is my no means perfect. For example there are some interesting innovations like Graphs but they didn’t work. But the point is that the few things that stand out are enough for me to switch over to Cleartrip. They show that they have put real thought into making the booking experience simple and hassle-free. The cost for me to switch is minimal so I will. But if something better comes along I’ll switch again. So in order to be competitive and stay competitive it’s not enough just to design for UX upfront but instead to to view it a continuous process. I therefore think that organisations that integrate UX design into the development process will win.