Swoop Airline

A Heuristic Evaluation conducted to identify design and usability violations and redesign iterations to improve the user experience for Swoop’s mobile app, focusing on the main user task- booking a flight. 







Project Overview


UI/UX Designer


Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Office, Figma, Photoshop, Sketch

The Team

Hana Fazal

Amy Tsai

Takahiro Sakamoto


  • Full usability evaluation

  •  UI iterations and redesign

  • Stakeholder Relations Management


Swoop Airline

Swoop is a Canadian ultra low-cost carrier owned by WestJet. It was officially announced on September 27, 2017, and began flights on June 20, 2018. The airline is based in Calgary, Alberta, and was named after WestJet’s desire to “swoop” into the Canadian market with a new business model.


Team Challenge


Evaluate the usability of the Swoop App and measure it’s usability against the accordance standards of usability heuristics.

What is a “Heuristic Evaluation”?


A Heuristic Evaluation is a method for finding the usability problems in a user interface design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”).

-Nielsen and Molich

Advantages of a Heuristic Evaluation


  • It is an inexpensive usability testing method that can test the product based on number of in-house UX experts

  • It is a quick testing tool as it doesn’t require a user test with advanced prep

  • It can be used to iterate common usability problems that may not be expressed from the end user

  • It can be used prior to other usability testing methods to focus on the user-specific pain points

The 10 Usability Heuristics


#1 Visibility of system status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

#2  Match between system and the real world

The design should speak the users’ language. Using words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.


#3 User control and freedom

Users often perform actions by mistake. They need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted action without having to go through an extended process.


#4  Consistency and standards

Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform and industry conventions.


#5  Error prevention

Good error messages are important, but the best designs carefully prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.


#6  Recognition rather than recall

Minimize the user’s memory load by making elements, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the interface to another. Information required to use the design (e.g., field labels or menu items) should be visible or easily retrievable when needed.

#7  Flexibility and efficiency of use

Shortcuts — hidden from novice users — may speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the design can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.


#8  Aesthetic and minimalist design

Interfaces should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in an interface competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.


#9  Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no error codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.


#10  Help and documentation

It’s best if the system doesn’t need any additional explanation. However, it may be necessary to provide documentation to help users understand how to complete their tasks.

Heuristic Evaluation Scoring

The Rating Scale 

Severity ratings for heuristics issues are a combination of frequency, impact and persistence of the problem.

Based on the severity of usability problems a number is assigned to each heuristic using a 0 to 4 rating scale.

     No Issue     Cosmetic       Minor         Major     Catastrophic   

The Evaluation Process

We performed a Heuristics Evaluation based on the evaluators and usability principles above: The 10 Usability Heuristics by Jakob Nielsen and a Rating Scale from 0-4. When evaluating a feature in a digital product, we sort it under the appropriate category and rating to determine its priority during iteration.

After conducting our preliminary research to better understand the public opinion and major concerns around Swoop’s app usability, our team began evaluations. As part of our analysis, we looked into the usability issues occurring throughout the flight booking experience from exploring the home page to initiating the checking in options.

Based on the task flow analysis, it was concluded that Swoop’s mobile app violated five of the ten heuristics.

  • Help & Documentation

  • Consistency and Standard

  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

  • Flexibility and efficiency of use

User Violations & Redesign Iterations

Additional Information Page




Initial Flight Booking Pages




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Returning Flyer Sign Page




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Check-In Page





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Swoop User Interface Library


Once the redesigns were completed, a UI library was built with all assets configured to be handed off to the development team to build out all approved changes once user testing is completed. 


Final Evaluation Rating


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After the evaluation, our overall rating of Swoop’s mobile app was 3.4/4 based on the average when calculating individual scores.


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In addition to Swoop’s existing 2.5 star rating in the app store, we believe there is room for improvement to better serve Swoop’s customers.

We would propose to start by addressing the issues which are most likely to prevent the users from completing a flight booking. To prioritize changes based on the heuristic score, moving from catastrophic to cosmetic.

What Does Swoop Gain?


  1. Build brand affinity amongst target users

  2. Incentive with price and user experience to draw new clients to fly with swoop over competitors

  3. Goal of being the first airline in trip consideration for users


KPI & Business Goals


Our team would track key measure of success with new changes implemented via:


  • Number of app downloads

  • New design adoption rate with user ratings

  • Progress in app store rating changes

Business Objectives

  • Evaluate the business budget for heuristic change being a fraction of a redesign project

  • Optimal Timeline with web development to reintroducing Swoop with new usability changes

  • Tracking KPI’s in comparison to previous app with usability pain points- bounce rate

  • Tracking app store ratings, number of searches and SEO measures for Swoop’s travel reviews

Next Steps


Our first course of action would be implementation of proposed redesigns while considering branding constraints.

We then would either prove our iterations to be valuable or invaluable through testing said redesigns via user testing to validate assumptions we made on our improvements.

Implementing WCAG standards ahead of the January 2021 deadline so that Swoop is prepared to accommodate ahead of time.