Lightspeed Aviation Logo

Lightspeed Aviation: App Design for Better UI

In Lightspeed Aviation’s pursuit to better know their customer and continue their product evolution, this leader in wearable ANR technology for pilots sought out Solid Digital for app design and development to bring their in-flight app to new heights: both with improved UX and better design.

Cabin Crew (Company History and Background)

In 1996, Lake Oswego, OR-based Lightspeed Aviation began its ascent into the aviation headset marketplace. Their “first to market” technological advancements and features join up with newer life-saving aviation products for safety, adhering to their mission to create products that protect and save lives. The company maintains its support of initiatives for the next generation of pilots, as well: The Young Eagles and Ray Scholars programs to help young people experience flying.

Recently, joining their top-of-the-line ANR (active noise reduction) headsets and helmets for aviation, they launched an app to monitor carbon monoxide levels. With the app, users can view both real time and past statistics. An additional app feature allows pilots to tailor their headphone levels with a hearing test, allowing a personalization of volume to ensure any pilot, even those hard of hearing, can accurately hear everything that comes through their Lightspeed headset.

Flight Plan (Goals)

Initially, Lightspeed Aviation came to Solid Digital to give the app an upgraded appearance. The life-saving technology in the app to detect carbon monoxide levels was useful for pilots—but as Solid Digital dug in, they determined the user experience needed an upgrade as well.

Together, the teams focused on improving the user experience to make the app more intuitive and user-friendly. They also set their crosshairs on the app’s design alignment and consistency with the brand identity. Plus, Lightspeed plans to expand their expertise into other life-saving technologies; the app needed to be scalable for future developments.

Angle of Attack (Approach)

With those objectives in mind, the teams set to accomplish these key tasks: 

  • Updating the user interface (UI)
  • Optimizing firmware updates
  • Refining the onboarding process
  • Enhancing data visualization
  • Aligning the app’s aesthetic with the company’s brand

During the learn and discovery phase, Solid Digital’s team worked with Lightspeed to establish UI/UX specifications, make a design system to prepare for the app’s developments, and create a full Product Requirements Document (PRD) for technical implementation.

As a respected brand that creates premium products, Lightspeed Aviation’s audience is loyal, with the headsets being a fan favorite. Solid Digital sought to extend that same level of loyalty to their app—but needed to learn more about the app’s ideal audience.

Roll, Pitch & Yaw (Process)

After user and stakeholder interviews, along with a discovery workshop and competitive research, Solid Digital identified room for improvement with the Lightspeed app: Users experienced pain points with unexpected firmware updates, a limited dashboard, and a bumpy onboarding process. Engagement was low after the initial app download. Using key data around the users, the audience, and the individuals who most valued the app, the process of learning and discovery led to the following recommendations, to make the app stickier:

  • Post-flight trends and insights

  • Push notifications

By employing a phased approach, Solid Digital helped transition the app through redevelopment into one its users would turn to again and again.

On the technical side, Solid Digital’s design and development teams on the project worked together to ensure designs were created to be iOS standards/expectations compatible, while the PRD (based on a feature matrix and a high-level implementation plan) put together was made to allow an iOS developer or agency to create the new version of the app.

Flight Checklist (Tasks Fulfilled)

To enhance the UX, Solid streamlined the onboarding experience, eliminating email account confirmation and minimizing the amount of info needed to create an account, recommending a seamless sign up with Google or Apple accounts instead. Additionally, one of the main functions of the app, the carbon monoxide monitoring, was improved with better UI/UX with added options for viewing past and real-time statistics.

To align the app design with the brand’s identity, Solid Digital took the design pillars, one of which was simplicity, and made the design super intuitive. The design team clarified what was most important, depending on the page, and guided the user experience with easy “what to do next” prompts. To inject the brand, Solid’s team emphasized the colors and fonts, and added a splash screen with an authentic photo of a pilot flying a plane. To improve the feel, a light and dark version of the design was created for pilots to use while flying during day or night.

For future features and app scalability, Solid Digital worked toward adding value to retain users. Taking a cue from other health and safety apps, the team found users preferred reports, data, and health trends. Restructured and repackaged in Trends on the app, the user can monitor various health data, including O2 saturation and carbon monoxide levels. In future phases, the app will also include heart rate, air pressure, and stress, with a live view in addition to trends over a selected period of time. 

Solid Digital’s development team also made recommendations for improving custom integrations by utilizing some of the newer iOS APIs and looking for potential opportunities to extend the app with external services like ForeFlight.

Crosswinds (Challenges)

The project wasn’t always at full visibility—without many analytics to work with, or data to go off of, Solid’s team helped Lightspeed Aviation’s team implement analytics and reporting going forward. Today, the team at Lightspeed is able to rely more heavily on data to drive its marketing decisions.

Perfect Landing (Results)

Working alongside the Product Manager at Lightspeed Aviation and the larger team, Solid Digital was able to gather data and get aligned in the app’s design and development. Lightspeed was open to ideas around the app and its future state, and their team trusted Solid Digital to take their app up in altitude, without many restrictions.

Some specific recommendations that Solid Digital was able to make in the partnership will allow the app to offer even more to its piloting patrons:

  • Bluetooth pairing inside the app to automate headset connection
  • Native iOS prompts, alerts, and notifications to signal important items
  • Expansion of monitoring alerts via widget rearrangement to emphasize issues (e.g. If the O2 level is not good, the O2 widget moves to the top of the app screen)

The PRD, a hefty guide of over 90 pages, documented every screen design, so their team could implement it. The guide, created by Solid Digitals’ senior developer, contained detailed instructions that worked as a visual guide.

Of the project, the client remarked, “The team showed genuine interest in designing our application, and it shows in the design. Throughout the process, the dialogue with their team was great, and made what can be a challenging process very straightforward and enjoyable.”

With this project, the teams’ missions intertwined. Solid Digital’s value of thoughtful collaboration met the needs of Lightspeed’s mission: To know their customer well and remain committed to relentless product evolution—this time, in the air and in the app.

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