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Whilst compiling examples for last week’s 10 essential features for mobile travel sites I was struck by how much I enjoyed using Ryanair’s new app.

Being as I only had to room to mention it briefly in the above mentioned article, I feel it deserved a deeper analysis.

The app was launched last month and was covered by mainstream news channels nearly as much as its much needed website redesign last year. 

The app continues Ryanair’s huge cultural revolution, although both the website and the app redesign haven’t been without their technical hiccups. We’ll talk about some of the reported problems with the app below. 

In the meantime, let’s take a look at Ryanair’s ever-improving mobile presence…

Upon venturing towards Ryanair.com on a mobile, you will be presented with this screen which redirects you to the app download.

As I often do, I ignore this request and go straight to the website. 

Unfortunately this really is the 'full website'.

 Ryanair doesn’t operate a responsive, adaptive or separate mobile site. It’s just the app for this traveller.

This is where other airlines certainly have an advantage. Offering customers a choice dependent on whether they prefer an app or a mobile site. Here is EasyJet’s mobile site, with the app below it.

 Here is Lufthansa’s mobile site (which unlike EasyJet, tells you there is also an app available)…

And here is Lufthansa’s app.

All three companies appear to offer roughly the same navigation and user options as each other. So what does Ryanair offer that the others don’t (other than a lack of mobile site).

For a start, there’s a log-in registration screen. Now immediately you think ‘barrier for entry’ but thankfully there is a ‘continue as guest’ option at the bottom.

Then you are taken through to a simply designed, attractive menu screen that offers all the necessary navigation you may want.

‘Plan Trip’ is a wonderfully clear and tastefully designed experience, with nothing particularly showy to slow it down or get in the way of its efficiency. Instead the design is subtle and intuitive.

Once you tap ‘select departure city’, geolocation offers the three nearest airports to you. 

If these aren’t to your suiting, the search box which is looms large across the top offers predictive results as you type.

The calendar’s couldn’t be simpler to navigate and also opens up in the same screen you’re using. I love large classic style calendars like this, as it’s far easier to visualise a set of dates than it is to use a scrolling menu.

The plus and minus buttons to change the number of passengers are again a flawless piece of design. They speak of simplicity but with a level of maturity that perhaps you didn’t used to expect with Ryanair.

As I’ve mentioned in another post… A huge shout out for the loading airplane that circles above.

The day I chose to fly resulted in the following screen.

Would it have been too difficult to perhaps black-out the options on the calendar I was presented with earlier?

Not to worry, the sliding menu just below the outbound travel details offers flights for later or earlier journeys with a finger-swipe.

A nice touch here is the ‘debit card’ and ‘credit card’ buttons which change the cost of the flight accordingly. A fine bit of transparency and UX.

As I am using the app as guest, I’m not surprised the following text fields aren’t auto-filled. The text boxes are nice and large however.

It’s at this point I realise the little airplane at the top is telling me how many more steps I have to go. With each option there are huge and clear call-to-action buttons. Each screen certainly has a single unambiguous purpose.

The seat options menu which follows was not something I was expecting from an app experience, so it’s a nice surprise. It’s also fantastically designed and easy to use, with clear pricing options and a subtle yet obvious way to switch between passengers.

The next screen’s ‘add bags’ options are again clearly labelled with clear pricing.

Then after a few short steps, which you can just ignore with the continue button if you’re in a rush, you’ve arrived at a single payment screen. (The images below are taken from the two halves of the same screen).

So what else does the app offer?

Online check-in with easily retrievable information and a flight checker with flight number or destination search options. Both are clear and easy-to-use.

On the negative side, the car hire and hotel buttons on the homescreen take you through to a non-mobile optimised online website, which is frustrating. Then there's the boarding pass option, which we'll talk about at the end.

How about the experience from a registered user point of view? 

As you can see below in the screengrab on the left, the 'register' button is so faint as to be imperceptible. Then comes the biggest crime, if you tap on register, you're taken to the non-mobile optimised registration page on the desktop site.

Much tapping, squeezing and squinting ensues. 

Then even more gallingly, if you make a mistake (here I didn't make my password strong enough) you are dumped back onto the registration page with all of your details removed.

That was really vexing.

So the positive to come out of all this trouble is that theoretically when it comes to sign in to the app, all of the forms I need to fill in would be auto-filled with my details.

Right?

Only to a point it seems.

 

I can understand my card details being left out, but surely my address could have been filled in?

It turns out that it's a much quicker and less frustrating experience if you use the app as a guest. Normally it's the other way round. This part of the experience needs a massive rethink.

Boarding pass controversy

This is one of the main reasons why Ryanair’s new app was trumpeted for on release. You now no longer have to print off a boarding pass (or face a charge if you have forgotten to do so) as the app provides you with a free boarding pass onscreen.

According to a report from The Telegraph, many passengers struggled to access this feature however. Natalie Paris found that her boarding pass button was completely unresponsive and that the ‘manage my booking’ button delivered the message “You have no bookings to manage. Why not plan a trip?”

Ryanair has since pointed out that customers needed to follow an additional step in order to access the boarding pass. By tapping on a button called ‘my flight’ this allows you to review the booking and retrieve the boarding pass.

The airline then said however that free boarding passes will be issued for anyone unable to show a mobile boarding pass having checked-in using the app and also claimed that more than 10,000 check-ins are being completed by users every day without issue.

Unfortunately I can’t actually find that button mentioned above, but this is probably down to the fact that I haven’t actually booked a flight using the app. (Somehow I don’t think I can justify the expense to my bosses).

There have been many subsequent big fixes and updates to the app since the Telegraph report, so if anybody reading this has used the app in last couple of weeks please let me know your experiences in the comments below. The reviews in the app store are also particularly damning and perhaps contradict the positives I’ve written about above. So again, please let me know if you’ve had similar problems.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs will be speaking at our Festival of Marketing event in November. It’s a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring other speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 26 August, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (8)

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Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Please can marketers stop using modal "install our app" screens.

Most people install one or fewer app per month, so it's clear that most ignore such screens and click through - so their first experience of the site is annoying instead of positive.

I expect this is even more true of travel apps, because people who want information are likely to be on the move - and who in their right mind would install an app in a typical airport, with dodgy Wifi, or the risk of roaming charges if abroad.

By all means include a big link to the app, but on the home page.

The figures: "According to research out of Deloitte and reported by the Financial Times, 31 percent of smartphone owners do not download any apps in a typical month, with the average number of apps being downloaded on a monthly basis having fallen "significantly" in 2014. The mean number of apps downloaded has declined to just 1.82"
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2360831/concerns-raised-for-developers-as-interest-in-mobile-apps-dwindles

about 2 years ago

Michael Davenport

Michael Davenport, Communications Associate at Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd

I can't concentrate on this article because I'm distracted by the fact that the writer only has 12% battery remaining.

about 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Michael - I like to think I've created a sense of urgency in the dramatic narrative of the piece. I'll try and add the 24 theme tune later.

about 2 years ago

Michael Davenport

Michael Davenport, Communications Associate at Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd

Dear Econsultancy, please install an upvote button in comments so I can upvote the above. Thanks.

about 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Really like the idea of using the battery % to generate urgency.

Is there an app to take a slideshow and add diminishing battery numbers to the top right? Would be a great variation on the standard "countdown timer" meme.

about 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Pete - Great idea!

(I assume you're aware of the small print stating any great ideas generated within the comments section are the property of Econsultancy? Good.)

about 2 years ago

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James

While feeling ever so smug at Stansted a couple of weeks ago waltzing through passport control waving my phone to get me and 5 family members through, the same can't be said for what I have experienced just now in Toulon trying to get home.

I checked in 5 days before departure and got my boarding passes on screen with the iPhone app. I then checked religiously everyday to see everything was working.

It was only literally on the bus to the airport I checked again and to my horror it was asking me to login. That didn't work. Then after numerous attempts it asked me to update the app. That didn't work either so I had to uninstall and reinstall. Still no joy.

I was then faced with the reality I was going to have to get help and explain I needed boarding passes printed without being charged as the app had failed.

Luckily I managed to get a live chat going with Ryanair who said they would contact airport. To cut the rest of the story short, I did eventually get 6 boarding passes but it was an extremely stressful experience considering I'd tried to be organised and pioneer of new tech!

Sort it out guys. No point having an app if you still need to get a print out!

about 2 years ago

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Mike spam, MD at EV inc

Having used the app. I am of the opinion that Ryanair have invented YET ANOTHER way to scam and rip its customers off.
Step forward... THE RYANAIR APP.
I booked some flights on the app and the flights were priced in Euros. When you book the flight, the app gives you the option to reject the Ryanair company rate and chose the 'official' Euro rate.
However, when you select the "reject Ryanair's rate" option, it still books the flight at Ryanair's far inferior rate which adds an approx. 8% surcharge on the price. (EG on my flight which should have cost £450, I was actually charged nearly £40 more due to this scam)
SO BE WARNED, Before you chose to book a flight with this app, be aware it WILL NOT give you the actual exchange rate but instead always defaults to the "Rip Off" direct currency conversion with Ryanair

about 1 year ago

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