September 15th, 2012
Hipmunk is a flight/hotel search engine. I found it through a design blog by Sacha Greif. Hipmunk differentiates itself from other competitors by providing a visual interface for searching flight/hotel. I liked its visual interface because it reduces cognitive overload and helps users analyzing what fits the most for their needs. For example, departure time of a flight, duration of the flight, hotel location or hotel’s proximity to a bar. List based interfaces provide this information too but it takes extra step for human brain to analyze it to see if it fits into their selection criteria.
Recently, I was looking at its iOS app and found a lot of similarities between its Web UI and Mobile UI. Though both are similar, it is difficult to read information on Mobile UI. Sometime what works on the web might not work on mobile. After looking at the app, I realize there are few areas of improvement. May be, team Hipmunk is already working on these. Here are a few thoughts:
- Most of the apps these days do have a little branding by showing a big size logo as part of the transition/loading screen. When I saw Hipmunk’s app I was expecting a welcome message with the mighty mascot.
- The app provides a way switch from flight to hotel search but switching between the flight and hotel was not smooth. It simply takes user to the initial screen. Either the menu should show right there or taking user back to initial screen is also not a bad idea.
- The current UI gives a lot of importance to the about us.
- The app does not ask whether I need one way ticket or both ways. It does it smartly when a user selects travel dates. But it was not clear whether I need to select two dates. What if I want to just travel one way and I selected the initial date by mistake. The app will simply take my correction date as return date.
- The app allows users to select the class but there is a minute difference between the color of selected class and not selected class.
- The up/down arrow icon for departure/arrival metaphor is kind of nice to indicate take-off and landing but it would be nice to use a real flight icon taking off and landing.
- The calendar displays the month in every date box. Repeating it in each box simply increasing visual clutter
- Show my calendar is really innovative feature but meeting conflicts can be effortlessly in proposed UI.
- The recent search or the flight search history is nice; I think it matches with the mental model of web UI recent search. However it can be improved visually.
- Kayak’s UI for this screen is much better than this UI serving the same purpose. Probably, Hipmunk can use some of the design patterns.
Search Results: The search result page looks simply clueless. It was really hard for me to read the information. The web UI and mobile UI look much similar but making them consistent might not be a right strategy. iOS calendar also has a vertical timeline. I tried a different approach for this design. The wireframes clearly indicate that the flight starts at 8:30 am and lands at 10:30 am and it will cost $194. Whereas on the actual UI, I can read the flight cost but it’s really difficult to read the duration of flight until I click on it. There will always be cases where flight duration is very short and it will hide most of the information but it’s safe to assume the rarity of such cases. In fact the new design can also give better comparison with your meeting schedules. Flight Detail Page: Current visual interface does not provide enough room to flight details leaving no option for users to go to next page to see more details about the schedule. Unfortunately, one has to go back and forth in order to select a desired flight. Wouldn’t it would be nice to provide a slide menu (bottom to top) when user clicks on a flight? This will allow user to be better informed about the search result. It will also help users to quickly check out other flights. To conclude, these are some of my suggestion for Hipmunk team, may be the app can be improved by using it. If you want your app to get reviewed please leave a comment and I will try my best to write a blog post next time. PS: These are my personal views and I do not have any association with Hipmunk
December 22nd, 2008
As most ads have copy, this one caught my eye. On the header of instructable, it was just a series of images. And the first think which came into my mind when I saw the ad was what is it. And when I was about to click it I realized it was an ad. I guess more people are deliberately shying away from clicking on ads. Which is making ad designers create ads which do not look like ads.
December 3rd, 2007
Book covers are my second most favorite art meets commerce products. Next only to album covers. If you want to while a small amount of time, and there is a book shop nearby go and browse. If you are a book loving person so much the better, but even if you are just an art or a design lover, go look at the covers.
A cover gives the book a small 5-10 second period to entice the readner’s curiousity. Once the reader picks up the book, then the onus of convincing the reader to buy the book goes to blurbs (by famous authors, newspapers etc), forward, preface, etc.
Anyway the book covers down below are vying for the best cover 2007. There are a lot more at The book design review page. You may want to go there and vote :).