Case Study: PreFlight

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A useful and pleasant preflight checklist for drone pilots.

UX Design Case Study drone-vector-icons

Drone pilots need to have a single, all-in-one, go-to app for checking flight conditions when preparing to fly their UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).  Before taking off, they must consider multiple factors that may affect safety, successful flight, or enjoyment.  A pilot would need to plan where their flight will take place, find out if there are existing restrictions in the particular location, check satellite availability once at that location, and will need to know weather conditions.

How do drone pilots prepare?

UX Design Case Study

Currently, they must utilize a weather app that includes flight conditions, another app that can access FAA restrictions to indicate no-fly zones or restricted areas on a map, another app to gauge Kp index (geomagnetic disruption), and yet another app to log a preflight checklist.  All this causes much hassle and time consumption so pilots don’t even bother with any of those various apps.  This leaves them at a disadvantage because they may be left unaware of certain conditions that would hinder a successful flight.

Discovery: my initial research is to find the stakeholders’ goals, criteria, cost, and concerns they may have by asking them the right questions.

ux design case study stakeholder research

  • What is your vision for offering this product? What problems does it solve for users? Simply put, this product is aimed to solve the issue with drone pilots who do not have practical, quick and easy access to a mobile app that will assist in preparing for success flights.
  • What defines success for this preflight app? What problems does it solve for stakeholders? Users are delighted by the ease and practicality of the app’s usage so they will use it repeatedly before each flight plan. The app becomes a critical tool and a key component of the pre planning process.
  • What are constraints and potential pitfalls for this project?
    Hindrance to app usage: irrelevant information, lack of usability, lack of marketing, persistent or irreparable bugs, awkward interaction, or anything that causes user frustration and stoppage of use.

    Who are the users?

    ux design case study user research

    In talking to UAV owners, I discovered there are different types of pilots depending on their intended goals for flying a drone, level of expertise, investment, liability and requirements.

    I created a user persona based on my findings to determine relevancy and the current functional scope of our product.

    ux design case study user persona

    This persona reflects the current pattern of behavior, goals, motivations, and pain points observed in research.

    How do users (pilots) prepare for actual flight and what do they think, do, or say? The current journey map:

    ux design journey map

    In order to consider a design for PreFlight, I conducted online interviews to learn about the experience of drone pilots from the planning process all the way to actual take off. I then used this data to create the journey map above for the “Gary Miles” persona in order to illustrate the user’s experience without the app and how preparation and results could happen in a real world scenario. Evidence that problems exist are indicated with pain points: stress, disinterest, impatience, or lack of usability.

    I used card stacking to find out how users prioritize steps in preparing for flight. Using this as reference I then created a future journey map that portrays a user using the PreFlight app.

    The PreFlight mobile app aligns stakeholders’ goals with solutions for users and provides easy access to advance notifications, weather, restrictions, prep info, preflight checklist, and conditions for safe flight. The future journey map demonstrates hypothetical solutions, goals, ideas, planning, preparing, checking, and flight success.