In 2016-1017 I worked as a senior designer at Omio, known as GoEuro before rebranding, a Berlin-based travel planner startup that's aiming to modernise and consolidate consumer access to European land and air travel market.
My day-to-day role revolved around both concepting our high-level feature set, especially on our mobile apps, as well as improving conversion rates and understanding our users better by iterating on our search-oriented product on all platforms. My time there was filled with rapid iteration cycles and aggressive plans to transform Omio from a search engine into a powerful, full-featured travel product for our target groups.
Ideating features for Omio's profile system. Omio has attracted millions of anonymous users with very, very few engagement features.
Better every day
Omio's has a data-driven search team whose sprint cycle targets first and foremost a fast turnaround, and on the best days it's a great pipeline for developing a product with over ten million sessions every month. Our search product on the web could be considered an e-commerce product that we would gradually want to turn into a more engaging, user-oriented packaged product – but not before we knew more about what our users actually want and respond to.
In my first six months at Omio we made massive progress in developing our processes, and also technology to some extent, into a predictable, effective pipeline that can produce meaningful progress for our users and investors. Our workflow was centered around
- generating hypotheses about various ways of improving conversion rates, consumer trust and user satisfaction,
- testing them qualitatively (with weekly user testing sessions or ad-hoc remote tests),
- testing them quantitatively (every feature goes through split testing),
- tracking impact of rolled-out features, and
- making conclusions about why our features work (or don't work) and capitalizing on the strategies we've found effective.
My daily tasks included concepting product features with analysts and product owners, drafting potential solutions for testing and validation, and delivering production-ready design output for our developers. I advocated close designer-developer collaboration and we were able to move towards a workflow where our entire product team move from user story to user story together, in contrast with the linear product-design-development pipeline that many members of our teams were used to working with before.
I worked closely with analysts and product and enjoed having user and A/B testing as core part of our feature development process. With constantly shifting priorities it is hard to keep the ship going forwards consistently, but during my time at Omio I was able to bring change into the tools and methodologies employed by both our design team and product development teams.
From search engine to a travel companion
As is necessary for a successful product company, we also spent some of our resources on another track: concepting/designing more fundamental changes to service architecture and new features to our apps. Our vision was to create the most comprehensive travel and booking solution for any consumer wishing to travel, for any reason, anywhere on the European continent. We wanted to know our users, engage, provide auxiliary services, be proactive and to be there for the entire duration of a user's travel experience, beyond the initial search experience.
A comprehensive Android screen map allowed us to build high-fidelity flow charts and prototypes fast. Prototyping mobile ticket interaction for iOS.
As a result we were building new infrastructure (integrating user accounts, introducing CRM for push notifications and email engagement) and important new features for the users (in-app tickets, discovery and exploration). We were primarily doing this for our app users – we saw a strong trend towards mobile – and I was the lead in bringing both user profiles and mobile ticketing to our app users (from early concepting to production and further iteration).
Another interesting aspect of our service was the fact that we supported multiple locales and regions, aiming to provide superior service to both local European users and travellers from Americas as well as China. We supported a dozen or so languages not just in our mobile apps, but on all our platforms and published blog posts, marketing campaigns and SEO content targeted towards many language groups and markets. This has implications to design, tech and processes in a way that I have not seen in many projects in the past.
My coworkers found my consulting experience important in our journey to improve our agile processes. We needed to move from UI design to service design processes. I coached our more junior team members and graphic designers who were eager to learn how to work with live software. We improved the production UI quality with developers. Part of creating big new features, even for me, is concepting scalable, generic architecture for consolidating more data from more companies – and somehow delivering a streamlined experience for consuming all that information.