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Ryanair was, and is, famous for many reasons; cheap flights, luggage restrictions, perceived sexism, a crazy boss, a refreshing approach to PR, and the list goes on.

But perhaps Ryanair was most famous as the poster child for the upsell, and the doyen of poor UX.

All this might sound harsh, but it is thankfully all changing. Michael O'Leary has been all over Twitter recently talking about forthcoming improvements, particularly to the web, and luggage restrictions, too.

And today, via its Twitter account, Ryanair announced the first stage of its website rebuild, the homepage, is now live.

 Here's the tweet, showcasing the homepage.

The Ryanair website isn't yet mobile optimised, and although there is an app available, it is routinely reviewed as 'not the best' (see app store screenshot below).

We've looked at Ryanair before on the blog, and its a website that has previously struggled with user engagement.

But all that has to change at some point, and the change has to start somewhere on site, with the homepage a good indicator to customers of things to come.

The change is quite marked when you click away from the homepage to explore the 'old' site - with the new header menu present throughout.

The change is even more marked when one compares the old homepage with the new. Check out the screenshots below and you'll see that Ryanair has significantly pared down the information on the page, in line with the widely held view that simplicity is what the customer appreciates.

The points of user interaction have also been increased in size, with buttons more obvious and looking tantalisingly like they're being prepared for mobile.

Old homepage:

(click to enlarge)

New homepage:

(click to enlarge)

Still lots to do

There is still a lot to do, as performing a simple search for flights from the new homepage, our Editor, Graham Charlton, immediately ran into difficulties.

He searched for flights from Newcastle to Barcelona and was returned the page below. There are no flights available and a list of possible reasons why.

This is very frustrating for the customer, who shouldn't really be allowed to search for flights that don't exist - i.e the selection for destination should be tailored to departure airport and possible date of departure.

There is a link to 'new route start dates' and on this page one can see that the Newcastle to Barcelona route doesn't commence until April 1st 2014 (making a fool of Graham?).

So the new homepage is a good step, but users will keenly await further improvements.

Ben Davis

Published 15 November, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (18)

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Ben Goodwin

Pretty glaring UX error here is when you click the "from" dropdown it stops at Switzerland, meaning it looks like you can't select a UK airport.

over 2 years ago

Darren Smith

Darren Smith, Business Development Manager at Fresh Egg Ltd

I wonder if there are also plans to improve the UX when actually flying with them? ;)

over 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

fyi you can see planned improvements to the Ryanair web and mobile offerings here http://www.ryanair.com/en/news/ryanair-unveils-improved-website-and-digital-service-to-customers

I look forward to the new app and mobile boarding passes.

over 2 years ago

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Paul Gailey

Anecdotally it seems faster than before. The homepage at least uses cookies so it seems to repopulate the last booked flight destination options, however I keep getting session locked notices for the last 3 days when I try to book.

over 2 years ago

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Jessica Hall

They still have the UX dark pattern of making it difficult for the customer to opt out of travel insurance, with 'Don't insure me' hidden in the alphabetical country of residence drop-down list. Even with the addition of explanatory text, a confusing experience!

over 2 years ago

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova, Marketing Project Manager at Freestak

Hi Ben, I've noticed the change as well when I bought tickets today. So I went through all the booking process and fortunately there are no more extra pages (which are trying to sell everything) you need to go through. Which is a massive improvement; especially for older people as they were definitely confusing. So not a bad job Ryanair. Let's see what else they have prepared for us.

over 2 years ago

Stephen McElrone

Stephen McElrone, Digital Marketing Executive at www.therughouse.co.uk

I was booking flights today and i noticed that the homepage had changed. The page is cleaner and quicker. I was happy with the transaction hopefully the flight is as good.

over 2 years ago

Claire Stead

Claire Stead, Head of Marketing at Smoothwall

I would be the first to say that Ryanair's old website was disastrous. But I can't help but feel a little disappointed in Ryanair with this new site. It's very safe. Ryanair is one of those companies you love to hate, you take the good with the bad that it is a budget airline - if you want a good user experience you pay more for it elsewhere with a different airline. I know they have faced a lot of backlash recently but that has become part of their personality. If they are no longer that company then who are they? This site isn't that of a budget airline. Granted, it will only help improve UX and in turn bookings I'm sure, but as a marketer I would have liked to have seen something more creative that challenged people's perceptions of them, instead of just what appears to be, giving in.

over 2 years ago

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Neil Corke

The term "you only get what you pay for" sums this company up perfectly.

Their poor website matches their miserable customer service.

They would do well to take a close look at both Ba's website and approach to customer service.

over 2 years ago

Steven Wilson-Beales

Steven Wilson-Beales, Content Strategist at Consultant

Have to agree with Claire here,
Ryanair have done a good job simplifying their page - but they should have done this as apart of a unified content strategy that reinforced their brand messaging. Going to this site this morning I have no real motivation for using their service above any other - and no emphasis on special offers either.

They have the basic elements there - I normally don't encourage the use of carousels but I'd suggest they quickly populate this with some special deals.

Lastly, the content below the fold is pretty redundant - no decent microcopy to encourage me to click.

Could go on but I'm sure they will tweak this over the next months.

steve

over 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Steve @Claire

I hear what you're saying but I think that Ryanair's task was simply to increase conversion.

Their brand is synonymous with 'the cheapest' and that's why people shop their, not because of any content strategy or unified strategy.

Once Ryanair brings a redesigned app and mobile boarding cards, and the fact it's already ditched the crappy up-sells (most of them), it'll be up there with EasyJet.

Maybe.

over 2 years ago

Steven Wilson-Beales

Steven Wilson-Beales, Content Strategist at Consultant

Hi Ben,
I beg to differ :)

I think the time it probably took this client to relaunch, they could have also looked at branding and messaging.

Content strategy/marketing isn't about piling on loads of content that doesn't really relate to conversions. It's about stripping back (which they've done a lot here) and then really answering those user questions (like 'why should I book with you over EasyJet?').

Take a look at the video on this homepage. The quality of this video is pretty budget - does that reflect poorly on the brand or could they have made more of this - i.e. 'we don't spend a lot on video because our focus is on keeping prices low and customer satisfaction high'.

If that's the right messaging for this brand then how could they have reflected that in the tone and design?

just a few thoughts and , like you said, with the improved app they will, no doubt, deliver a fantastic service.

over 2 years ago

Susie Cox

Susie Cox, Social Media Strategist at Fresh Egg

I agree with Lenka, the removal of the ghastly up sell pages is a massive improvement.

When I'm buying flights on Ryanair, I just want the process to be over with as quickly as possible. If the buying journey makes me want to loose the will to live, I will go elsewhere.

over 2 years ago

Claire Stead

Claire Stead, Head of Marketing at Smoothwall

Hi Ben

In line with Steven's comments - conversions or functionality doesn't have to mean the loss of design, personality or message.

I'm not denying that a strategy for improvement needs to be in place, and mobile boarding passes are a must - which I happened to be thinking whilst taking a Ryanair flight this weekend.

I just don't think they should shy away completely from the character they have created for themselves, when that is what so often keeps them on peoples tongues and in peoples minds.

over 2 years ago

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Ben

Ryanair debates can get tedious in the extreme but I'm going to wade in anyway.

Ryanair's "brand proposition" (I really hate that phrase) is that they're the cheapest way to fly. Because of this, they've always been able to afford to have a shitty site. They obviously don't think they can continue with that so have improved it. As for "losing their personality" I'm not buying that at all really. So long as they keep their prices the same this won't harm their sales at all, the idea that Ryanair need to bother with some grand "content strategy' is a little misguided IMO, they're cheap, that's what they trade on. Any brand perceptions that have arisen over time have been incidental of that.

over 2 years ago

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Joel Siddall

I think everyone agrees that the overall look and feel has improved vastly. The new cleaner, simplified layout is easier on the eye and makes the content easier to follow.

From a UX perspective, there are definitely bugs with the site which I am sure will be ironed out through user testing and with further development of the inner pages.

over 2 years ago

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Asia

I cannot even find the "No travel insurance" option in the country drop-down anymore (I used to find it there on the old drop-down - have booked about 10 flights with Ryanair in the last year and it's always moving - but this time I can't find it - help!) Thanks

over 2 years ago

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Asia

Never mind, found it! Buggers moved it from the end of the list (where it used to be) to the "D" in the list of countries, so it's between Denmark & Finland. On some level gotta admire their dastardliness

over 2 years ago

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