Fasten your seatbelts, you're in for a bumpy ride

Does this sound at all familiar?

The group running consists of at least 200 people spread out amongst many different groups, including, for example, QA, product planning, business analysis, code development, site operations, project planning, and user experience. We have a lot of people touching the site, and a lot more with their own vested interests in how the site presents its content and functionality. Fortunately, much of the public-facing functionality is funneled through UX, so any new features you see on the site should have been vetted through and designed by us before going public.

However, there are large exceptions. For example, our Interactive Marketing group designs and implements fare sales and specials (and doesn’t go through us to do it), and the Publishing group pushes content without much interaction with us” Oh, and don’t forget the AAdvantage team (which for some reason, runs its own little corner of the site) or the international sites (which have a lot of autonomy in how their domains are run)” Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that is a huge corporate undertaking with a lot of tentacles that reach into a lot of interests.

Could this be your company?

This note was excerpted from a response to UX designer Dustin Curtis’ redesign of the American Airlines homepage. It came from within American.

After suffering through what is admittedly (still) a pretty horrific web experience at, Curtis took it upon himself to rethink the experience of the company’s homepage.

The result?

Marvelously better.

American Airlines

As our home page breakdowns continue to illustrate, there is in real estate, like on, a tendency to visually vomit every link, every piece of content from all constituents and all corners of the company onto the homepage.

Far too often, design sacrifices are made during the creation of a website. User experiences are treated like used air-sickness bags.

So, how do you avoid becoming American Airlines (besides, keeping those committees to a minimum)?

  1. Insist on a “10” – Make sure you settle for only the best. Have a clear vision for what a “10” means.
  2. Don’t be afraid to change – Resist the naysayers. Lead with passion and stick with it.
  3. Kick aside convention – Far too many sites in this industry fall into the “me-too” category design-wise. Push forward. Try new routes.
  4. Keep in mind that there is only one stakeholder that really matters – your customer.

Rethinking a website can be a turbulent experience. But if you keep these four things in mind, you’ll land safely at your destination.