User Feedback Guides the Developer Experience

by Sophi Marass

Kris Courtney kicks off the session at STX

The annual Sabre Travel Exchange (STX) is one of our marquee events to connect with customers and partners to showcase all the advances we are making in the world of travel technology.

A large part of STX includes a developer track, aimed at educating 3rd party developers across the travel industry on how Sabre products and services can help them make amazing travel applications. These developers spend four days participating in intensive workshops and training sessions.

At STX 2018, our team was given the opportunity to conduct four workshops on the developer track where we did a range of activities around information architecture and navigation for our API portal. As part of the User Experience team, these workshops are an excellent opportunity to get direct feedback from the users of our products on how we can improve them.
We did a navigation workshop where we had developers do a card-sorting activity to learn about how they would ideally organize and categorize Sabre APIs.

To understand card-sorting let’s use a quick example. If I were to give you a collection of items like milk, cereal, blueberries, a bowl and a spoon and asked you to sort the items into categories you might do this in a unique way. You could say these items live in a category called “breakfast” or “things in a kitchen” but you could also break them up by “food” and “utensils” or “refrigerator” and “pantry” or even “dairy”, “fruit” and “grains”. The purpose of the activity is to see how your users organize your goods and services and then you use this understanding to design your product navigation. Our workshop asked them to organize Sabre APIs and services instead of food.

We also did a demo workshop where we walked them through our new API documentation portal and collected their feedback through two activities. The first, called Product Reaction Words, is used to collect words that the audience associates with the demo they just watched. They are given a list of words to choose from and they must pick five. These words include a mix of positive and negative like complex, exciting, innovative, annoying, stressful, valuable, and so on.

Sophi Marass helps guide the discussion

The second activity was called Rose, Bud, Thorn and it is used to collect audience feedback. Each member of the audience is given three stacks of post-it notes, yellow, green and blue. The colors correspond to the type of feedback they want to share. Yellow for “Rose” or things that they like about the product. Green for “Bud” or things that they see in the product that has potential but still need some work and blue for “Thorn” or things that they see that could cause issues for them. The beauty of this activity is that it can be done during the product demo and then the post-it notes are collected afterward and brought back to the office for review.

The User Experience group also had an Innovation Lounge where we were showcasing new products coming out of the Sabre Labs team, including a new chatbot for travel agents.

This year’s STX was a wonderful experience and it gave us a lot of valuable user feedback about how we can improve our API portal. If you attend any future STX events, please consider attending one of our sessions. Your feedback is so important to us and it helps us make better products for you. And don’t forget to stop by the User Experience group and say hi. We like it when people say hi.