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.

ryanair mobile app

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.