Simon Austerberry

  • Portfolio
    • Duty Free eCommerce Design

      MAG Airport App

      MAG Transfers Booking Journey

  • Projects
    • ShopNote


Discovery research for Manchester Airport's new companion app

MAG-O, the digital division of Manchester Airports Group, wanted to explore how to use digital to engage with more of their passengers and improve their in-airport experience.

As UX Design Lead, I was asked to help the VP of Product to identify pain points in the in-airport experience, explore digital solutions and validate them with potential users.

Understanding the problem

The airport user journey was big and complex. To conduct a full research piece would take a significant amount of time – something we didn't have. Therefore, I leveraged existing research, and expertise within the business, to get a head start. This included conducting stakeholder interviews, and interviews with the customer service team, looking through passenger feedback and NPS scores, and using existing qualitative research the airport had done.

To bring it all together, I ran a workshop where we mapped the passenger journey and pain points. We felt that information, or lack of, was at the heart of many passenger frustrations. From this, we generated ideas on how we could better deliver information to our passengers.

Designing prototypes

These ideas were further refined into two approaches. The first was to create a new version of the airport app; one that delivered information proactively to passengers. The second was a chatbot, offering on demand answers to questions passengers might have. Both ideas would take into account the user's flight, location and time to deliver more personalised information.

I designed low-fidelity prototypes for each idea and ran user testing with 12 participants who'd recently flown through Manchester Airport. The session was split into two parts; a user interview, to dig into their recent airport experience, and a formative usability test to see if our ideas were the correct solution or not.

Testing with users

The testing revealed that participants preferred the proactive nature of the app and felt a chatbot would be too fiddly whilst in the airport. We'd also validated the need for information, especially that which would impact participants getting their flight on time.

In addition to user testing, I ran a Fake Door Test on the airport website to gauge appetite for different app functionality. A split test was set up and users would see one of eight banners promoting a particular feature. We then measured the click-through rate.

From this, we uncovered the features people showed the most interest in, which we found aligned with the outcomes of the user interviews. The test also gave us some initial metrics which showed us the viability of the idea from a commercial perspective.

Defining the MVP

We felt confident a new app was the right way to go. However, we couldn't – nor shouldnt – deliver all of the funcitonality we tested. We boiled down the functionality to an MVP based on our earlier findings. To do this, I explored a number of different prioritisation frameworks including opportunity and business/value matricies to identify the core features which would deliver most value to the user and business.

With an MVP defined, a team was spun up to bring the app to life. At this point, I was less hands-on as I had moved onto a different project. However, I still worked closely with the product team and Senior Designer, who was responsible for creating the designs for the new app, to ensure the app met user needs.


I felt the discovery work done had been successful. In a few months, we were able to identify pain points in the passenger journey, explore solutions, test them with users and define an MVP.

A few months after launch, the new app saw revenue up YoY compared to the old app. However, the app review scores weren't where we wanted them to be. To help improve these, I pushed to implement a feedback feature early on which allowed us to capture user feedback and iterate on the experience.

PS. That cool looking post thumbnail was generated by Device Frames

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