ROLE

Lead UI/UX Designer

CLIENT

Denver Int’l Airport

AGENCY

Spire Digital

YEAR

2014

Project Overview

When Spire Digital was tasked with redesigning Denver International Airport’s website we had to modify our approach and process to facilitate the tight four month timeline.

We implemented a mobile-first approach to wireframing and a design-in-code collaboration effort. Locked in a war room with a four-person team – a product owner, back-end developer, front-end developer, and UI/UX designer (yours truly), we put our agile methodology to the test and produced an award-winning web experience for DIA travelers in record time.

Strategy

We knew early on we were developing a mobile-heavy website. DIA travelers were using their phones to search arrival/departure flights, visit restaurants and shops, access WiFi, look up security wait times, and secure a parking spot based on garage vacancy.

As our Product Owner interviewed users, our team created two key personas: leisure and business travelers. We then brainstormed and wireframed mobile user flows that met the acceptance criteria of nearly 600 tickets, one-by-one. This project was exceptionally JIRA-heavy.

In a time-crunch, fellow Spire employees who were unfamiliar with the project made excellent substitutes for testing.

Design

We encountered an unexpected obstacle moving into the design portion of the engagement: DIA had hired an external consulting agency to redesign the airport’s expansive brand. Everything – down to their new $120,000 logo – was under lock and key from us, and the website deadline preceded the brand reveal. We established a degree of white-labeling, keeping in mind that the website design needed to work with a color palette, typography, icon library, etc that was, at the time, unknown to us. And the code needed to be exceptionally clean.

Our timeline didn’t allow for design comps to inform front-end development. We implemented an atomic design process, providing the developer with wireframes and just enough UI components to build out the entire site. It was a very agile collaboration effort, having essentially designed the entire website via rapid prototyping.

Launch

Reaching launch was difficult. DIA was engaged in several high-profile ventures, and their CEO had become the most in-demand person in Denver. We worked autonomously, and presented design only in the final weeks of the project. The site even required approval from the major of Denver before launch.

Following a final few stressful weeks (including five homepage iterations), we went live – to praise from the press, travelers, and our client. Our work for Denver International Airport earned Spire Digital a Communicator Award for Top Travel/Tourism Website.