flightSpeak is an app that provides airport information to travelers and helps them connect with others.




UX Researcher/Designer

UX Lead


UX Team

CEO & Founder


Heuristic Evaluation

Ethnographic Field Study

User Interviews


User Flows


Interactive Prototype

Usability Testing


flightSpeak was founded in 2013 and had only 1K downloads. Its goal was to help travelers find who and what matters to them the most at the airport. The problem was the app did not cater to its user - it was simply an airport directory. Users had to drill into multiple categories and select the terminal they were able before locating what they wanted or needed.

Figure 1: flightSpeak Screenshots


After completing a heuristic evaluation, the team and I headed to the airport to conduct an ethnographic field study. We observed how travelers walked briskly from the curb to the check-in counter and veered straight towards TSA security.     

Figure 2: San Francisco Airport

Travelers were not willing to chat until they reached their gates.  Only then were we able to perform guerilla testing and obtain feedback.

Figure 2: User feedback on flightSpeak app

0/5 - Found it Relevant

'Why does it show all of the terminals? I prefer the app to tell me what is nearby so I don't have to figure it out.'

1/5 - Found it Useful

'It's an airport directory but why does it show categories with zero listings.'

0/5 - Found it Reliable

'I find it odd the app is asking me if the 'Estimated Security Wait Time' is correct or not. Is this accurate?'

User Interviews

Shifting from evaluative to generative research, we conducted in-depth interview to learn:

  • How do users navigate through an airport?

  • What challenges do they face in an airport?

  • What would ease their travel experience through an airport?


The pattern behaviors we discovered from the affinity diagram were:

  • A traveler's primary goal was to check-in and passed through TSA security asap.

  • Long TSA lines generated many frustrations.

  • Unexpected flight changes caused high-stress level.

  • Travelers were willing to explore what's near their gate so they can board the plane on time.



Users wanted a concierge to cater to their needs and guide them through an airport. It had to be specific to the terminal where they were at. As an airport concierge, how might we:

  1. Track the users' flight status,

  2. Notify them of flight delays,

  3. Inform them of the security wait time, and,

  4. Provide a list of nearby dining options based on their preference.

User Flows

We debated if and when we should require users to log in. I created user flow diagrams to solidify our thoughts. The lazy login would at least provide users with a preview of flightSpeak's offerings and satisfy the client's need for user acquisition.

Figure 3: User Flow Diagram


We then collaborated on the whiteboard to determine the screen layout and content placement.

Figure 4: Whiteboard sketches


My objective was to mirror a traveler's mental model - following the behaviors we observed at the airport.




I divided the terminal screen into three sections and simulated how a user would navigate through an airport from top to bottom.

Figure 4:  Airport - Home Page

Figure 5:  Terminal - Departure Page



I designed  flightSpeak to  function as an airport concierge and inform travelers about:

  • which terminal to depart from,

  • what the counter to check-in at,

  • which gate to board at,

  • how much time left before boarding, and

  • what the weather is like at their destination?

Users can then be guided to the specific check-in counter and gate with a clickable detailed map of the airport.



I created a historical 'Avg Wait Time' chart and 'Last update' timestamp in the Estimated Security Wait Time thelp users manage their time through TSA Security. The chart and hourly update were to create credibility on the data presented.



Travelers can then explore what's nearby as I presented them with the specific terminal where they were at. They can set/edit their preferences to further generate a sense of relevancy for the user.



I also created an alert notification to address the user's pain point of unexpected flight changes. flightSpeak would generate a pop-up message to inform them of any flight changes. 

Figure 6:  Alert Notification Pop Up 



Arriving passengers had different needs from those departing so I constructed an Arrival page to display the baggage carousel number and the specific terminal transportation options.


Figure 7:  Arrival Page 


I conducted usability testing on my interactive prototype to validate the user's ability to locate information within the app and complete tasks.


© 2019 Anna Canicosa. All Rights Reserved.