Movie posters, the Cleartrip way

Last year we posted about Redesigning the hotel icon, where we referenced the iconic DOT pictograms that have been in use across the world for years. At Cleartrip, we’ve been playing with these icons and graphics for a long, long time.

These pictograms have assisted millions of travellers of different ages and cultures, but we thought we’d have some fun with them too — break them out of their purely utilitarian straightjackets.

So, we held an internal competition asking for poster entries of your favourite movies redesigned using these pictograms. There were two advantages we saw — the first, being refreshing and viewing the age old pictograms in a new light; second, we wanted to add some zing to the design department’s space in our office.

These were the entries

The two best posters were selected from the submissions and the ‘prize’ was having one’s work framed and proudly displayed in the office.

This is how they look now.

Tuxedoes everywhere

We rolled out our new design more than a month back. At the time, only our flight search & hotel search had migrated to the new design. We wanted to keep a laser focus on our core products, get them to a stable condition before touching any of the other products. Having said that, we’ve been hard at work all along to move all our products to the new design. In fact, our Flight + Hotel Packages product was originally designed using the Tuxedo design framework; but we chose to retrofit the older design onto it because Tuxedo didn’t launch till 3 months later and we didn’t want to give the design away.

By now, you may have already experienced the Bus search that launched soon after the redesign – buses was the first new product which leveraged the new design language & framework. With Trains & Packages moving to the new design, we are happy to announce that all our core products are now wearing Tuxedoes.

Codenamed ‘Tuxedo’, this project has been a true labour of love for us – months and months of hard work, which has given us a new design framework for the next five years.

Search forms

Search results

Tool bars

You can see we are putting our tool bars to good use. The search summary, view switchers and smart tabs — and we’re just loving the way the design of the toolbars is scaling across our different products.

Individual result units

Unifying the user experience across all products is a huge milestone for us. We believe, consistency not only helps our customers as they move from one product to another but it also builds a tremendous amount of trust. The consistency in design patterns and code is also going a long way in helping our teams deliver much faster.

As we finish the fourth phase of Tuxedo, we start another phase that takes our products closer to being more cohesive. Stay tuned, we’ll be back with more news on this front.

Building ‘Undefeated’ teams

In 2002, Bill Courtney took over as Head Football Coach for the Mannasas Tigers in Memphis. Their story is chronicled in the Oscar winning documentary, Undefeated. He came to a team that had not won a single game in over ten years. It took him six years, but Courtney took the “losers” and transformed them into a unit that won the district championship. He didn’t do it by making his team focus on winning games; he did it by focusing on what was much more important:

The foundation has got to be a solid platform that you can stand on and speak to these kids and say, ‘This is the way you build yourself. If you build yourself this way and handle yourself this way and have character, you get to play football. And winning will take care of itself because young men of character and discipline and commitment end up winning in life and they end up winning in football. But when you flip it and the foundation of what you’re doing is football and you hope all that other stuff follows… Well then you think that football builds character. Which it does not. Football reveals character.’
~ Bill Courtney

Great companies are no different from great sports teams — they’re both collections of individuals that, together, achieve dramatically more than any one individual can. What sets great companies and great teams apart is a shared foundation. And foundations need depth. Deep foundations are imbued with vision, values and goals that go beyond short-term objectives like “Win the game” or “Achieve the revenue target”. Great teams don’t view their wins as achievements, they see them as an outcome of pursuing greater goals and staying true to their foundation.

When sports teams or business teams “flip it” and focus on the wrong end of the stick, they confuse outcomes and goals; they confuse cause and effect. And for confused teams, the most typical end is ruin.

Waytogo: Around the world in 5 trillion ways

Ever since the earliest days of online travel, travel sites have conditioned users to think of transportation as one mode of transport at a time. Websites of transportation providers have only offered their own inventory and third parties, like Cleartrip, offer a wider array of transportation options, but with each form of transport contained in its own isolated product e.g. Flights, Buses and Trains. Single-mode products to sell transportation were the only feasible options. This made things easy for us, but made it very hard for our customers. The status quo has never allowed for a simple way to compare modes of transport for a journey or to easily get routes and prices for a journey that requires multiple forms of transport to reach a destination.

As an industry, we’ve always left the heavy lifting for planning and booking these trips to our customers — we leave it to them to figure out the routes, plan connections, factor in intra-city commutes from airports to train stations, keep track of the different bookings, and more. Providing an integrated global search and booking experience for multi-modal transportation has been a holy grail of travel technology in our times.

Today, we’re proud to announce Waytogo, an integrated, worldwide route-finding and booking product. Launching as a public Beta today, we’ve tied up with Melbourne-based startup, Rome2Rio, to bring the world’s most state of the art routing technology to our users.

Waytogo has everything you need to find, plan and book your journey from anywhere to anywhere — by air, sea, road and rail. No matter where you’re going; as long as you have the will, we’ll find you the way.


Waytogo covers over 5 trillion routes, 2.5 million places, 670 airlines and 600 ground transportation providers (trains, buses, local transit, ferries, etc.) worldwide — more than enough to satisfy most travel planning scenarios. Waytogo is not limited to only domestic searches, why would it be? Indian travellers are going overseas more frequently and we’ve always believed our products should be global in their scope and ambition. So, wherever you are wherever you’re going, Waytogo will, quite literally, find you a way to go. Kick the tyres, take a look at travel options and indicative prices from Faridabad to Florence, London to Ludhiana, Bathinda to Budapest, or New Delhi to New Haven

Its international capabilities notwithstanding, Waytogo is uniquely suited to travel within India. Unlike a lot of countries, multimodal travel is a way of life in India with our vast network of trains, planes and automobiles. India has thousands of destinations which aren’t connected by an airport or a train station. Getting to these places requires one to take multiple forms of transportation. Waytogo has all the important domestic travel options available to serve your domestic planning needs, for e.g. Mumbai to Lakshadweep, Jammu to Rameswaram, or Gorakhpur to Port Blair

Oh, and did we mention ferry services? Unlike “competing” products that recommend you spend over three hours driving, Waytogo will correctly tell you that the best way to get from Mumbai to Alibag is to take the one-hour ferry across from Gateway of India.

What’s more, Waytogo also has local transit data for New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, helping you plan intra-city commutes and weekend getaways. Try these searches on for size – IIT Mumbai to Gateway of India or Chembur to Alibag

Compare the options

In the early stages of research you just need a rough idea of how much a journey is going to cost and how long it’s going to take. Waytogo supports dateless searches, providing indicative fares based on a proprietary statistical pricing model. For our environmentally conscious green crusaders, we also display an indicative carbon footprint for each option. Each route is given between 1 to 5 Green Star ratings depending on how much pollution the route generates in relation to the other available routes. 5-Star routes are the greenest and cleanest ways to go and 1-Star routes are the worst environmental offenders.

Booking Convenience

Once you’ve done your preliminary research and you’re ready to step up and book your journey, you can specify a date and let Waytogo do all the heavy lifting of working out routes, modes, connections and logistics. A detailed itinerary for every route will show you the layovers along the way, commutes to airports and stations as well as all the connecting travel options. When you search for a specific date you also get accurate prices for that date. You can start booking directly from the Waytogo page. Easy as pie.

We aim to make Cleartrip the Swiss Army Knife of travel and Waytogo is another powerful addition to empower the Do It Yourself traveller. Waytogo is currently released as a Public Beta because we’re still actively working on a few enhancements, tweaks and features; stay tuned. While we’re still working on it, we’d love to hear what you want us to add to Waytogo to make it even more awesome, so chime in, loud and clear, to the comments with your ideas.

Introducing Cleartrip Buses

Over the last year, Cleartrip has executed a mission to revamp all of our existing products around a new design framework we call Tuxedo. This year, our mission is to build on that framework to expand our product portfolio. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the first new product on Tuxedo — Cleartrip Buses. We have partnered with the two leading providers of online bus ticketing services, redBus and Travelyaari, to bring you a unique product which combines the Cleartrip user experience with the widest coverage of buses from our partners.

The beginning of the bus search experience will be familiar to our existing users — a simple, uncluttered search form.

The search results page offers a familiar experience, but with a few additions that bus travellers will appreciate. In addition to the usual filters around operator, departure time and price, we’ve introduced Smart Tabs. A ‘Volvo’ Smart Tab instantly reduces the search results to only Volvo buses, while a ‘Recommended’ Smart Tab instantly shows only the top 15 buses rated by our patent-pending Cleartrip Score algorithm. The Cleartrip Score is calculated based on a variety of parameters. Parameters include ratings, comfort, seat availability and price in relation to other buses for the same route. The ‘Recommended’ Smart Tab instantly cuts the clutter to help you make the smartest choices.

Select the bus you want to book and you will see available seats and additional details such as boarding points, cancellation policies and amenities onboard the bus. Just point and click to select the seats you want to book.

We’ve brought our familiar single-page book process to buses as well. With just two clicks you can easily review your itinerary as well as fill out traveller details. For existing Cleartrip customers, traveller details and your traveller list are seamlessly integrated and available.

The final step of the bus booking is where this product differs from our other products. Clicking the final book button will redirect you to our partner’s site to process your payment. Once you successfully make payment, our partners will issue you the ticket and will also be responsible for providing all after-sales support for cancellation, reminders, tickets, refunds and more.

We hope this makes Cleartrip an even more comprehensive travel solution than it was before.

[Design Nuances] The Tuxedo flight search experience

Last week, we blogged about how and why we redesigned the Cleartrip search experience. Today, we’ll share some of the design nuances in the user experience of our new flight search.

Folding columns

In the old design, we had two main versions of flight search results — a single column for domestic one-way and international searches; and a split screen for domestic round-trip searches. In the single column view, we’ve always had the luxury of space to provide much more flight-level information.

With Tuxedo, we’ve brought our revolutionary split-screen experience even to multi-city searches.

With just a few conditional statements in our code, we’ve been able to make our flight search units entirely responsive to the context in which they are being served.

By standardising the flight metadata, we not only unified the experience across all types of searches, we were also able to serve all needs with a single template. This simplifies our code maintenance considerably — we now have a single code block for all of our flight result units.


The basic function of a unit in our flight search results is to allow users to compare the available options. Not only did we want to make this comparison effortless, we wanted to make it an enjoyable experience.

These are some of the main improvements we made to our flight search units:

Better grouping — Flight data is now clubbed into logical groups. The airport information is below the departure & arrival time, and the number of stops below the duration.

Better hierarchy — With the new groups, we reduced the number of columns needed and also delivered a better visual hierarchy between primary and secondary flight data.

Improved readability — We designed a grid for Tuxedo as a whole which also shaped the flight units into two rows of information. Primary information was placed in the top row and secondary information in the lower row, both of which align end-to-end horizontally.

Many of these things will go unnoticed, but we’re big believers in the little things; because all the little things add up to make a huge difference. You can see the difference for yourselves.

Visual Indicators — In our recent posts we talked about some helpful indicators we’ve added to flight results. We allocated a separate column for these in our unit designs.

The indicators add a dash of visual energy to the units and are superbly helpful in sizing up the quality of a flight at a glance.

Flight details

Flight details have been made much more discoverable and accessible — each flight unit is now entirely click-able.

Flight details you’d care about are now clearer in two columns here: one for flight schedule details and another for fare details.

With every redesign of our old products, the first thing we did was to consolidate our itinerary format. We started this consolidation with the Accounts redesign, the booking flow redesign and with all our mobile products. With Tuxedo, the flight details display in the results page is exactly the same as you see in the booking flow (a hat tip to the role of consistency in design).

Extra toppings

Toggle airports

A switch to toggle airports had been at top of the most requested feature list for a while. And we hear great things about the switch airport animation in our iOS app. So, with Tuxedo, here it is:

It’s already brought a smile to at least one customer’s face:

Fare calendar transition

With Tuxedo we integrated our stand alone fare calendar into the core product. We now have a mini-calendar in the sidebar on flight results. The problem with the mini-calendar was the discovery — not many people noticed it in our early testing.
Our search data told us that many users were looking for the calendar in the ‘Modify search’ section. We introduced a transition to improve its discoverability. Now when you hit the Modify Search, the mini-calendar expands in place into a bigger form with fares upfront.

Retina support

Last but not least, we’ve made the entire search experience retina friendly. And let me tell you, it looks gorgeous on high resolution displays. You wouldn’t want to book anywhere else if you had one of these modern devices. As always, we love to stay just two steps ahead of the tech curve.

There are tons of things we have added with our new search experience but we’re not satisfied yet. It’s not necessary to be different, but it is very important to be good. We think we’re pretty good, but we also think we can get a lot better — stay tuned.

[Design Nuances] The Tuxedo hotel search experience

Last week, we announced our new search experience for hotels and flights. Today, I would like to share some of the finer design details of the new Hotels search experience.

Quick look

Similar to a blurb on the back-cover of a novel, ‘Quick look’ provides a hotel’s overview at a glance by previewing amenities, rates and thumbnail images. We’ve also added recommendations from travellers on what they love about a hotel.

Re-imagining the maps experience

We went back to the drawing board to make the maps experience faster, smarter and more usable. We also wanted to make our users more aware of the map search, so we added ‘map-cards’ to the right of the results to give users a preview of the city’s map.

Hotel details

The new Highlights tab effectively provides a snapshot of a hotel in a three column, magazine-style layout. The first column derives its inspiration from our Small World destination design. We did over 10 iterations to get the Highlights design just right and we’ll probably still be tweaking it for a while, but we think it’s a big step forward from the previous version.

We’ve added subtle touches to the navigation bar to encourage users to explore a hotel in greater detail.

The new darkroom design for photos by darkening everything and upping the contrast to put the focus squarely where it belongs — on the photos.

Our new Map tab derives inspiration and information from Small World, showing a hotel’s location in context to a destination’s sights and sounds.

Stamps and badges

Our customers loved the stamps on our booking confirmation page, so we made new stamps for the search form. The stamps are fashioned after the retro hotel signs often seen on highways in the United States. We think the stamps do a great job of highlighting elements of our Hotels product to newer customers.

We’ve also added beautiful badges for our most popular and best-selling hotels. These badges are meant to let users easily spot the best hotels when they’re scanning a list in the search results.

There’s hundreds and hundreds of little touches that we would have loved to highlight, but there’s only so many words in a blog post.

Personally, I’m proud to say that throughout the Tuxedo design process, we lived by this principle:

“Simplicity as a result of a creative process is the ultimate sophistication”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

[Tuxedo] How we redesigned everything

Two weeks ago, we rolled out the new Cleartrip experience. In previous posts, we’ve addressed some of the specific improvements and new features for flights and hotels. Today we’ll go behind-the-scenes with everything you wanted to know about how we managed to pull this off and why we did it.

  1. Design goals — what did we want to achieve with the redesign
  2. The roll out — how we shepherded the new experience into the world

Design goals

  1. Improve performance, real as well as perceived
  2. Develop a crisp and consistent design language
  3. Optimise the site for faster development and maintenance
  4. Help users easily accomplish frequent tasks

Goal 1: Improve performance, real as well as perceived

Improved performance was one of the key design goals for our redesign. All our back-end services were overhauled to deliver search results to users as fast as possible. Back-end services were broken up into multiple services based on how static or dynamic the service’s data is; in flight search, for example, flight schedule data is relatively static, but availability and fare data is highly dynamic, so they are now two separate services. We further enhanced the actual performance gains by moving to a single-page user experience where results start loading the moment you click the ‘search’ button. This combined with the virtually instant delivery and rendering of static content amplifies the perception of speed in the user’s mind.

Here’s a look at how things work when a user hits the search button

All that in well under 2 seconds.

Single page apps come with complexity and that means way more lines of code. So, it’s tough to compete with a traditional website on the overall request size of the assets required for the first visit. For example, a majority of the scripts and stylesheets need to be made available on the homepage itself. We’ve seen a performance hit in this department but we are working hard to overcoming this. We’ll keep you posted on the next round of optimisations.

Goal 2: Help users easily accomplish frequent tasks

We wanted to give our users quick access to the tools they frequently use.

Smart tabs — In the new design we’ve introduced smart tabs which let users filters results with just one click. You don’t have to look for a tiny “Zero” stops filter any more.

Filter order — We looked at the usage of our filters and re-ordered them based on the popularity. We also collapsed some of the filters that are less popular.

Re-searching — Over 10% of our users ‘re-search’ with multiple travel dates for the same cities. We’ve added a mini calendar next to the search results to help immediately identify dates with cheaper fares.

Goal 3: Develop a crisper & consistent design language

We began setting a new design language for our products about a year ago with the release of a completely redesigned Cleartrip Account, followed by the launch of our redesigned booking process. The design language has been evolving ever since and with our redesigned search experience, codenamed Tuxedo, we’ve managed to consolidate and set a tone that should last us a while. Some of the broad principles that the new visual language is based on:

Good design is invisible.

Our goal was to build something that was truly universal and invisible. Something that doesn’t come in the way of users. We now have much tighter primary color palette, along with loads of tiny details.

Less is more

We’ve made a tremendous effort to ensure that we’ve tightened up all the lose ends. Page layouts have been meticulously optimised to pack more content without overwhelming the user. The new design reduced our vertical “chrome” footprint by over 30%.

Goal 4: Optimise the site for faster development & maintenance

The previous version of our site evolved over 7 years. This redesign was a great opportunity to consolidate design patterns and rewrite our UI framework in a way that lets us easily build new features.

The roll out

With 100s of scenarios to be tested, the magnitude of new code coupled with the browser fragmentation there was no way we could roll over to the new site at one go. We couldn’t possibly cover all test cases in our internal QA cycle.

The roll-over had to be handled with utmost care. The tiniest bug on the site could not only result in a poor experience for millions of users but also hugely impact our revenues. We had to put the product out to the users and start testing in production without making a dent in our daily numbers.

Here’s how we did it:

With our first push to production, we restricted the site to our internal users. We then incrementally, opened the site browser by browser so that we could isolate browser related issues. During this period we were pushing close to two patches a day. This transition was only possible with the support of an amazing team who never gave up, our users who cared enough to report issues and give us honest feedback and the right set of tools to monitor how things were playing out in the field.

We are particularly proud to say that all the tools that helped us in the transition were 100% made in India.

  • Visual Web Optimiser – Helped us set A/B tests to gauge the performance of the new site vs the old site. We used this tool extensively to selectively roll out the site to specific browsers.
  • Errorception – By far the most useful tool during the transition period. We were able to track JS errors occurring on our users’ browsers in real time.
  • WebEngage – Enabling our customers to post feedback, we were able to open a dialog with our customers and understand their concerns and hear their suggestions. Talking directly to our customers helped us mend any incorrect assumptions or design decisions we made.

We must thank the teams that have built these products – we have to say that India has truly arrived; all of the above products are best of breed.

It’s going to be a while till our new design stabilises, but we believe we’ve set a strong foundation for things to come. We hope you love the new design and we hope you’ll let us know what should be even better. We’ll be more than happy to improve.

Indian Railways gets an Android station

Cleartrip turns 7 today, and as we did last year, we thought this was the perfect time to bring a smile not only to the faces of millions of Indians, but also to our many customers abroad who want to explore India in its truly incredible way.

Railways in India is not just a means of transport, it’s a way of life. Used by a staggering 25 million people everyday, it makes India rightly famous for its classic rail journeys. In fact, many foreign tourists consider their visit incomplete if they haven’t experienced the hustle and bustle of India’s trains and the unique experience they offer. And it’s not just the journey–booking tickets for these trains is also an experience in itself, which many find is not a very pleasant one.

5 Years ago, Cleartrip took the first step towards making train travel simple, by becoming the first online travel agency to offer Indian Railways bookings. We were thrilled to see that it not only made booking easy for people in India but also for those who were visiting us from different parts to the world. Some of them even went ahead to suggest using Cleartrip to their fellow travellers.

And today, we take this to the next level by presenting version 3 of Cleartrip for Android, the first truly native app to offer train bookings on Android devices. And the best part is that there’s no Cleartrip service fee for booking train tickets. You pay the same price that you would pay if you were booking your tickets through IRCTC. We’ve even included the ability to check PNR status on the go.

Here is a quick walk-through of the most beautiful way to book Indian Railways.

Book trains on the go

A Pure Android experience for searching, checking availability and booking trains from your Android devices.

Syncing Cleartrip and IRCTC accounts

As per the guidelines from IRCTC, a one-time sync is required between your Cleartrip and IRCTC accounts before you can make train bookings with us. If you’ve not done that already, you can sync your accounts right from within the app.

Saved travellers, saved cards– Just tap to book

All your saved traveller profiles and stored cards are available at a one-tap selection for train bookings too.

PNR Status

You can keep a track of your waitlisted tickets by checking the PNR status.

We’re sure you’ll love this app even more than you love booking trains on You can download it now from Google Play. Give it a spin, and let us know what you think.

[Tuxedo] Hotel search redesigned

We just introduced a brand new design for our site. For our Hotels redesign, we had an ambitious goal — help our users choose the perfect hotel faster and with greater confidence. Unlike flights, choosing a hotel is a complicated and time-consuming process because there is so much choice (we have 493 hotels in Bangalore) and a large number of variables like price, location, amenities, inclusions to evaluate. To make this process simpler, we believe our users need trustworthy information and contextual tools that help them quickly shortlist relevant options.

This is exactly what we have crafted — a search experience that is faster, easier and incredibly useful.

Faster than ever
Say your goodbyes to the “loading” page. We’ve made searches incredibly fast. Results start loading immediately after you click the ‘search hotels’ button. Our core search architecture has been completely overhauled to deliver results 2-3x faster.

Easier than ever
Usability has been and always will be the guiding force behind design at Cleartrip. We have refined every element in the search results page and added a host of new features to make the search experience easier.

Users love to apply filters and a ‘sort by’ option based on their specific needs to view the most relevant hotels. We’ve made this simpler with Smart Tabs — bargain-hunters will like the brand new ‘Deals’ tab that only displays and sorts hotels with discounted rates (we have over 4000 deals running every day!). ‘Best-sellers’ highlights the most booked hotels on Cleartrip for those looking for the popular options.

Know exactly where in a city you want to stay? Then search by area, landmark or even a specific hotel from right within the search form.

The hotel details pop-up has been completely redesigned to give you more information to help you make the right decision. The ‘Highlights’ page shows a comprehensive overview along with handy recommendations. Since photos play such an important role in the selection process, we’ve made them larger and more engaging using an innovative ‘darkroom’ design.

The map now shows landmarks, restaurants and entertainment options near the hotel so you can be sure about its location.

More useful than ever
Whether it is a business trip or a summer holiday, the process of selecting a hotel is often ridden with anxiety. We’ve added trustworthy, accurate and relevant information across the board to help put your mind at ease.

Recommendations from friends, family or even strangers often plays a huge part when we select a hotel. We’re using a data-driven approach to bring this recommendation process online — you can be confident that this is reliable data from real people. We now highlight highly ranked hotels on the TripAdvisor Popularity Index as “Top-Rated” and top-booked hotels on Cleartrip as “Best-sellers”.

We’ve added a ‘verified Cleartrip user’ tag to TripAdvisor reviews written by our customers for added trust.

We’re also recommending similar hotels — based on your current hotel’s attributes and rates — that might interest you.

Not in the mood for a traditional hotel? Try out the Property Type filter to find B&Bs, serviced apartments, resorts or even guest houses.

We’ve rebuilt the map view so that it’s simpler to explore hotels across the city — pan and zoom to find hotels in a specific location or click on a hotel cluster to see all hotels in a popular area.

We feel that the all new Hotels search experience goes a long way in making travel simpler — it saves you time, energy and a lot of anxiety. We’re really excited about it so do give it a spin and let us know what you think.