Stellar

Changing the experience of business aviation

Method partnered with Stellar and GlobalLogic to design and develop the first complete digital marketplace and network for business aviation, one of the last transportation industries to provide complete digital solutions for their customers.

Client and Challenge

Stellar is an aviation start-up founded by Paul Touw, who previously founded Ariba Inc and XOJet. The origin of Stellar started out as an ambitious idea to change the aviation industry that needed experience design and development expertise to make it a reality. Method and GlobalLogic’s full life cycle offering provided them with a solution to take them to the next level.

While the rest of the aviation industry has taken advantage of the internet, private aviation flights are still primarily booked through numerous phone calls or email exchanges with brokers. This is incredibly time-consuming and frustrating for executives who need to book flights frequently. Although Stellar was initially looking for an MVP app that would enable users to quickly search and book private flights in order to build momentum around fundraising, the team quickly realized that building an automated operator system was going to be their key differentiator within the market. In the private aviation industry, operators manage their own fleets and work with brokers, who in turn work directly with operators to meet their customers’ travel needs.

The initial ask therefore quickly expanded into a year-long engagement building an operator system in addition to the MVP app, where operators and brokers are able to receive client requests, automatically generate trip options and proposals, and track their fleet. In addition to the app and operator system, a payment site is in development which enables customers to view and pay for their flights online.

Approach and Process

From day one it was important for Method to have a collaborative approach with both Stellar and the GlobalLogic development team. The Stellar team spent a significant amount of time in Method’s offices working with the team, and the GlobalLogic development team based in Buenos Aires were co-located with the Method team for the first month of the project to grow the relationship within the team and align on the multiple work streams. When they returned to Argentina we continued to communicate and collaborate through daily standups and numerous video chat sessions to review work and brainstorm. Through this close connection between the client and the Method and GlobalLogic teams, we were able to simultaneously design and develop the three components of the project driven by an in depth knowledge around the private aviation industry and its user needs.

We experimented with several different types of interaction models and visual designs to align with their brand promise, and determined through exploration that all Stellar products needed to feel pleasurable, precise, orchestrated, and intelligent. We looked at a key differentiator of Stellar: their one-of-a-kind algorithms which enable operators and customers to get available flight options in real time with accurate price quotes. This is the only service in the world with these capabilities, so it was important for us to show the science and complexity within the Stellar system. The team decided a concept based on material science, inspired by the science and technology behind man’s reach into the sky, allowed for the fullest expression of these concepts within the three systems. From there, we created information architectures, customer journeys, interaction models, wireframes and visuals which were constantly iterated and revised in collaboration with Stellar.

The concept of material science manifests in the iOS app through a visual system founded in the notion that the interface is made out of a fabric mesh with a mechanical structure underneath that pushes relevant content up through the surface when needed. Instead of a traditional app model with discrete pages that move in and out of view, the mesh system allows the entire app to be one continuous surface. In order for this to work, we devised a set of completely original animation paradigms to transition between states.

Outcome

The core problem that Stellar is solving brings private business aviation into the digital age. Method and development partner GlobalLogic created solutions for their business through an app where users can view and book private flights in minutes, as well as designed and developed a system that allows operators to search, book and manage flights for their customers.

Throughout the engagement the client’s needs and expectations quickly changed. The extended partnership of Method and GlobalLogic, where the design and development teams work closely from day one, enabled the teams to be flexible with workflow and quickly pivot as client and market needs changed. Stellar will launch the products at the 2015 NBAA Conference in Las Vegas November 17-19, and will be available to the public in early 2016.