IHG Rewards Club® members have long had many ways to spend their points earned by staying at IHG properties, but all of these redemption options require hundreds of thousands of points to be worthwhile.
In 2020, IHG set out to add more ways members could use points. Referred to as "microburn", experiences like Pay with Points enables guests to spend the points on smaller things like in-hotel meals, or redeem towards portions of the hotel bill.
I was the creative lead on this project, with welcome input and oversight from fellow AD Mike Nizinski and UX Manager Alison Mckenna.
The Pay with Points concept is simple; IHG Rewards members earn a ton of points, but they don't have an easy/obvious/relevant way to use those points while staying or dining at an IHG hotel. To combat that, the plan was to create an in-app experience to enable users to pay for their room or restaurant bill using said points. The problem was that..... the first pass of the product needed work.
By the time I was brought in to consult, the project that had already gone through development, microanimations and all. But without having done proper wireframing, content exploration, or user testing, usability issues plagued each leg of the experience, and the whole thing felt off-brand. As such, my team and I were brought in to refine the UI and make it more usable overall.
The designs seen here were the ones that dev had already built. There were extraneous URLs, the structure caused high cognitive load, and many pages suffered from severe accessibility issues. We were tasked with starting over while keeping as much of the existing structure as possible. With this in mind, myself, our copywriter, and a UEA sat down to determine what the best course of action would be.
We addressed the existing UX/UI concerns as they related to five different categories:
Once the user entered the original experience in the app, they were dropped immediately into a hotel selection screen without much context for what they were doing or why. Our new designs remedied this with the creation of a central 'home' experience where users could see existing/expired vouchers, create new vouchers, and quick link to FAQs/other relevant pages.
The primary usability issue stemmed from the form used to calculate how many points would be converted into a voucher. Initially, users could use a slider or an input field to type a dollar amount to convert a relevant number of points. This was a usability issue because sliders are notoriously difficult to use for non-sighted users, and the input field lacked any instruction or label. Additionally, it was purposefully left vague how many points equaled exactly how many dollars, which ultimately increased the overall cognitive load for the user.
Our solution was a tabbed approach where a user could input (using a regular, labeled field) either a points value or a monetary value. Upon entry, the user would see immediately what the relevant monetary or points value was as it correlated to their entry. Not perfect, but definitely better.
This was a simple fix. We addressed various color contrast concerns across the experience, made sure that all links had the standard required 2 visual indicators to make them stand out, and we increased all small text to a more legible size.
The original designs featured compositions which had alot of extraneous links, information, and UI. We worked to streamline this by removing any content/information which was not relevant to the user at the time, i.e. their rewards number, the ability to sign out, our logo, etc., resulting in a much cleaner interface.
Look & Feel
Lastly, the original look and feel wasn't up to standard for our team, and the noticeable visual differences between the experience and our native app resulted in a less than polished feel. To fix this, we updated fonts, colors, and compositions to better reflect our brand and the app that houses Pay with Points.
The final product of the efforts detailed above was a clean, easy-to-use experience that solved the problems of the original while elevating the look and feel to new heights. This projects was approved and completed from a design point of view in March of 2020, just as COVID-19 began to effect budgets and the world at large.
This work has yet to be developed as of this writing. However, it is my hope that one day soon Pay with Points will launch, giving users another joyful way to interact with IHG. Because, after all, that is our goal here: