The BirdBrain team have had the privilege of working with our long-term clients, Rottnest Fast Ferries for many years now. The journey with Rottnest Fast Ferries (RFF) has been very important for BirdBrain – we’ve grown and learnt a lot together. Apart from being the best of clients, the relationship parallels several important milestones in our business maturity and technical development.

Back in 2014, when RFF first engaged BirdBrain, we were a small team focused on building WordPress websites, and using our approach to SEO to improve site visibility. Our first project with RFF was a simple website rebuild, which eventually led to the client engaging us for a range of digital marketing services, which we still provide today.

Before we chat about how the BOOKIT system and UX helped RFF achieve their business goals, we should clarify what UX is in case it’s a new concept. User experience design is the art of enhancing the user experience of a product. In this case, the Rottnest Fast Ferries booking system.

The challenge: Overcome by BOOKIT

When we first started working with RFF, an important challenge was the underwhelming online booking process on their website. We spent several months working on a custom interface which gave users a simpler, more elegant user experience, only to find the booking software lacked the integration we needed. It was costly, frustrating and a disappointing outcome for everyone.

The project was shelved until 2016, when RFF made the move to the BOOKIT reservation system. Fortunately, BOOKIT have invested significantly in their API (Application Program Interface), which allows for more flexible third-party integration. This meant that the booking wizard project was back on the agenda. We embarked on planning, development and ultimately launched in early 2017.

The end result? A booking wizard built using React.js and Node.js.  

While I’m no developer (despite being surrounded by them), I appreciate great UX. I particularly love the user experience found in web applications such as Airbnb. The near instant load time and immersive, elegant interface give a sense of trust which makes me want to return again. The technicalities seem to disappear, leaving me to simply achieve my objective without distraction.

This is exactly the case with the Rottnest Fast Ferries booking wizard. It is simple, elegant and, ultimately provides an experience that is delightful for the user.

In many ways, our experience in developing the booking wizard was a key part of BirdBrain’s move toward React.js based technology for the majority of our websites. I’ll talk more about this in a future post.

The 2017 BOOKIT Conference

This year I was fortunate to attend the annual BOOKIT conference just outside Stockholm in Sweden. Delegates were a cross-section of BOOKIT clients, developers and partners.

While spending time in the amazing city of Stockholm was a bonus, getting insight into future plans from the BOOKIT team, and learning how RFF’s counterparts operate around the world was valuable for me.

UX achieves business objectives

Learning the challenges that major ferry operators face, reminded me that UX is not only important in website experience, but real, business applications. Whether it’s booking a ferry ticket or searching for a space to host a meeting (as in the Spacetoco site we recently built using React.js), UX will continue to become more crucial as consumer expectations increase.

We’ve invested heavily in learning the BOOKIT API, and developing our own custom API to integrate with theirs for the booking and payment process. The process has produced a fantastic outcome for our client, but also meant we are positioned to use the technology for other BOOKIT clients.

If you are looking to overcome a digital business challenge, and would like to discuss the opportunities to maximise UX to achieve business outcomes, get in touch – I’d love to chat.