The New Kulula App – An Interview w/ Our UX Designer

It’s official! The new Kulula smartphone app is out. 

Now people can book flights without waiting for 20 minutes. And those cringe-inducing ratings can finally make a u-turn.

Best of all, it’s about to be a huge game-changer for COMAIR and Kulula.

Especially with UX Design and Artificial Intelligence in the picture.

So to get a better understanding of what UX Design means for business, how the Kulula app was designed and deployed, as well as some exclusive insights, we sat down with our UX Design expert Arnold Peterson.

This is how it played out:

Why is UX Design so crucial to business?

UX design, at its core, is all about creating valuable human-technology relationships. It’s about having human-centered design at heart and striving to create positive user outcomes. 

Today, it represents a complex combination of user research, insights, business strategy, branding and creative problem-solving. It exists at the junction of multiple disciplines. 

It serves as a facilitator between businesses and customers, bridging their interests through technology. 

UX discipline creates a solution and validates it before the tech-team gets involved. It saves the business not only the bottom-line, but also time and a lot of wasted human resources working on a wrong solution.

Why is it important to have AI functionality/features when designing a fluid UX?

AI as a concept is hard enough for people to understand. Even more so when it comes to code.

The average user struggles to make sense of good AI and the code behind it. 

Therefore, it has to be packaged in a way that a common user can consume it easily and understand the benefit of the application.

The Kulula App is done. How do you feel about having worked on such a big task?

I was speechless when Kulula communicated their satisfaction with the final product. It was a major win for us.

However, it’s still not 100% ready. We are currently monitoring the users and their feedback so that we can improve on an already great experience. It will be in satisfying the users that makes me happy.

How did you go about planning the design?

Design planning has multiple variables, client requirements, platform restrictions, user pain points and back-end visibility in order for the UX to execute on the ideas and innovations. 

It’s our scrum process that makes us plan small chunks of work and scope every feature very carefully. We do this in partnership with the client, so that they are fully aware of the priority items we plan for every stage of the project.

How did you go about implementing it?

Implementing user experience ideas and innovation happens in a small iteration loop. 

This means that we have to validate our ideas with real users, otherwise it will be a very subjective solution, so implementation happens in stages.

We create many ideas to solve one micro-problem at a time and then test them with users. Once the ideas are validated by users, we then implement those ideas into the app.

We created an internal testing group (at Comair & Teraflow) as well as external testers to achieve this.

What were some of the roadblocks or obstacles that you faced?

Every project has bottlenecks and issues. That being said, one person is selected to account for them.

We record all the blockers on a Monday board and the scrum master follows them up with either the SME (subject matter expert), BA, or the client to respond. 

The blockers are managed based on their priority in the project. The more urgent, the higher the priority. 

At Kulula, we had various issues, but none severe enough to impact the delivery, as we managed them quite well. 

The only major impact on our deadline was due to long discussions/disagreements on non-functional design elements and hours of mitigation measures with the Comair web-team.

It did require extra time, but we managed to meet our deadline comfortably.

How is it better than the previous app?

It’s too early to say. We need to get more reviews from real users. 

But in our expert opinion, it offers far more than the previous app. Take for instance flight booking from start to finish. A feature that wasn’t available on the previous app. It previously only had a flight check-in option. So on that measure alone, it’s far better in terms of usability. 

All of the other small innovations we came up with will have to be validated by the real users in order for us to better understand our user’s needs and improve from there.

In what way(s) is the app unique?

We have micro-interactions (innovations) in the app not only to improve users’ experience, but to make it more fun. 

Seat selection, for example, is so engaging, we got recorded user feedback that they keep on going back to the seat selection because it’s fun to engage with. 

We crafted many interactions to make the user experience more immersive, from flight search to seat selection and payment. 

All the UX is more engaging, immersive and fun, making it far more unique than any other flight booking app currently on the market.

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(We would appreciate any, and all, feedback for the new app. Please let us know what you think!)

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