Cool Visualization at hipmunk.com
Hipmunk provides a unique way of viewing your travel options. Rather than show options in a list or table, as other sites do, Hipmunk has a graphical layout showing key information about the flight options in one view:
- Length of the line indicates overall duration of the flight;
- Color indicates airline;
- Layovers are white gaps in the line, length of gap indicating length of layover;
- Departure and arrival times are shown by the line begin and end points;
- Hover shows additional details about the flight;
- And order on the page shows rank against departure time, arrival time, overall duration, price, or “agony”, which rolls up several of the other measures.
This is an example of the power of the Cool Concept Direct into Action. It can be hard to talk about Direct because at its simplest manifestation, it seems to be no more than old-fashioned usability. But the principle is much more powerful than that, and this Hipmunk interface gives an example of why.
With this interface, rather than having to read and interpret a table of options, all the options are right there, on the screen, available to me. Every factor I need to consider to make a decision is represented, not as a value, not as information, but directly—it doesn’t need interpretation. Duration of flight? Length of line. Departure time? Where the line starts. Stopovers? Number of line breaks.
The resulting feeling is that my options are there—I can reach out and touch them. They aren’t hidden in some conceptual space that’s just referred to by entries in a table. This is especially impressive given that flight information is fairly conceptual and intangible—giving it concrete reality is an impressive feat.