WestJet Makes Design Central to the Customer Experience

WestJet UX team uses Adobe XD for design collaboration and communication to build premium digital customer experiences.

WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner photographed on March 5, 2018 by Chad Slattery from Wolfe Air Learjet 25.

Image source: WestJet.

by Caitlyn Burke

posted on 02-25-2020

The traditional design process is often filled with frustrating inefficiencies.

Multiple back-and-forth emails and digital mockups with input from different stakeholders are part of the norm. But when you’re trying to deliver a best-in-class customer (or guest, as WestJet calls them) experience, that kind of inefficiency can stifle innovation. And when your brand exists across multiple digital channels and platforms, streamlining the design process becomes even more critical to creating frictionless experiences quickly and at scale.

Brands are now laser-focused on improving the customer journey, and many realize that design is a powerful tool to achieve this goal. WestJet, a large Canadian airline, is one brand that is gaining momentum for using design as a competitive advantage.

The 24-year-old airline recently underwent a brand repositioning as the company transforms from a low-cost point-to-point carrier to a global network airline. A huge focus of WestJet’s redesign was to visually communicate this new global ethos and use design to drive convenience at every touchpoint, while still making the guest journey delightful — from booking through travel.

Its growing team of UX/UI designers used Adobe XD — an all-in-one experience design platform that enables designers to take their ideas from artboard to wireframe to prototype even faster — to help redesign WestJet’s website, mobile app, digital check-in flow, and customer booking experience.

XD also played a role in helping lay the groundwork to create a new WestJet design system. Gareth Burke, WestJet’s digital UX/UI designer for mobile apps, said Adobe XD enables the design team to play a more central role in the business’s guest experience strategy.

“Adobe XD has helped us prove that we can have a seat at that table and provide value internally,” he said. “It’s been a great opportunity for us as a team to show what we can do.”

With Adobe XD, WestJet’s Digital team can create better interactive experiences with simplified collaboration and coordination — and that means rolling out new content and new experiences is even easier.

Moving away from design as a service

Before adopting Adobe XD as its experience design solution, WestJet’s Digital team relied on Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign, but the team didn’t have a collaborative design platform that would allow for prototyping and better collaboration with WestJet’s Developer team.

Kelsey Kimura, team lead UX/UI with WestJet said before Adobe XD, the team’s work was considerably different.

“We were definitely more of a service-based team, doing mockups of landing pages based on briefs, and making things look pretty,” Kelsey said. “However, when we formed [the UX Design team], we had the concept of leading the product with design.”

Though Adobe Creative Cloud apps the team originally relied on helped them perform various design tasks, an increasing focus on digital and experience design within the organization required the team to work more efficiently to bring digital experiences to market faster.

The team turned to Adobe XD to improve its design efficiency, to test and get feedback, and deliver final projects earlier. The ease and speed of testing, collaborating, prototyping, making changes, and delivering specs to developer teams — the latter of which can save up to a week and a half worth of time spent redlining — are some of the key capabilities that have changed how WestJet’s Digital team approaches its work.

Building prototypes in Adobe XD also helps the team tell a better story to internal stakeholders about its approach to a specific design concept. Rather than emailing a digital mockup that may get sent to others without context, the team uses Adobe XD to convey the full digital experience it envisions.

“Now, it’s a lot more of a conversation,” Gareth said. “We’re actually involved with the process and we’re tied a lot more closely to the developers themselves, so it provides a good opportunity for back and forth. Everyone can see how things are broken apart, and how they get pieced back together, and I think it’s really provided a lot of value for us there, as well.”

Transforming experience design with XD

One of the key Adobe XD features WestJet leverages is coediting. This enables teams to work together in the same document in real time, so they don’t duplicate efforts or spend extra time tediously merging changes from different stakeholders.

Adobe XD also makes designing digital experiences scalable. With components, teams can reuse different design elements across several projects. The linked assets feature enables design changes to automatically populate across all documents.

“Being able to work on multiple files, or the same file with multiple designers, has been really beneficial,” Kelsey said.

Also critical to WestJet’s workflow in Adobe XD: powerful prototyping capabilities that enable design for a variety of user inputs without duplicative work. For example, the WestJet team can add different actions for when a user taps on a button as opposed to when a user swipes a button. With the new hover trigger, designers also can define actions when a user places a cursor over or hovers on a specific design element. These features make the team’s prototypes even more realistic, which is critical to getting internal stakeholders on board with a design concept.

“Prototyping has been huge in selling the experience that we’re looking to create as we share that out within an organization,” Gareth said.

Kelsey said Adobe XD has dramatically improved the team’s speed and efficiency.

“Working with artboards is a lot easier, so even just the basic projects are a lot faster. An added benefit that we’ve adopted is prototyping. That’s been really successful, especially for the approval process to help our executives link things together more easily. Being able to prototype has been really good at showing — early on in the process — how things are coming together,” he said.

Using several other Adobe applications in combination with Adobe XD has improved collaboration and experience design across WestJet’s entire organization. The design team is collaborating with WestJet’s analytics and insights team to get valuable metrics and conversion data that it can use to improve future designs. The team is also working with the company’s optimization team, which uses Adobe Target, to A/B test design solutions in real time with real guests, critical to achieving a premium customer experience.

With all these efforts, WestJet’s new home page and its soon-to-launch mobile app and digital passenger check-in flow are now well-positioned to deliver convenient, frictionless digital experiences.

Image source: WestJet.

Design takes its seat at the strategic table

Overall, Adobe XD has helped WestJet’s team save weeks when designing new projects and new experiences. For example, the team was able to design a new home page in just two months.

“We kicked off the project in early August and it was published in October. That included planning, design, testing, and development, so it was pretty aggressive. We’re really proud that we brought that page live in that amount of time,” Kelsey said.

Added team efficiency also has led to increased productivity. “We’ve almost tripled our workflow because we can make edits quickly,” Kelsey said. “We have a good user testing program set up, so we’re able to create user tests and adapt our designs faster, just because of the nature of the interface.”

In addition, Adobe XD is paving the way for WestJet’s future design system.

“As we get our design system fleshed out…it’s going to help our new designers, especially when we go through larger updates,” Kelsey said. “Having those linked components will really save us a lot of time.”

Design is becoming even more important to the customer experience. It’s no longer just a service-based function, but rather a core part of driving the business’s customer experience strategy. As WestJet’s digital team has discovered, Adobe XD is making design central to the customer experience.

“One of the biggest benefits is the speed of XD,” Kelsey said. “We’ve really seen tremendous growth in terms of collaboration with our product teams, stakeholders, developers, and our user testing team, and being able to quickly crank out those prototypes and make changes. That’s what really excites me.”

Learn more about Adobe XD and download it today, then check out more about Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise on the blog.

Topics: Creativity, Design, Customer Stories

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud, XD