I LOVE this! Truly!

Dustin Curtis, a user interface designer, had an opinion about the website of American Airlines. He thought, to put it mildly, that it sucked. Fair enough – its a personal opinion. But, like most new-age, web x.0 savvy consumers, he wrote an open letter to them in his blog. The best part is, he did not just whine – he also made a mock-up of what he thinks could be a good redesign for the front page.

I love his approach. Or, so I thought – because, here comes the even-better part!

Someone in the official design team at American Airlines saw this blog post and responded – wonderfully well, I’d say. In essence, he (she?) says that anyone could make a mock-up of a newly redesigned front page based on his/ her personal taste (more on ‘taste’ – later in this post!), but within an organization like American Airlines, there are multiple stakeholders, with multiples X multiples of expectations and demands!

This is an extraordinarily valid and ignored point even in social media. Unless there’s an internal champion who could impress upon the senior management, the needs and possibilities of social media (here, website redesign, as a better means of customer experience), using informed, logical and the ‘in-the-best-interest-of-the-company’ tone, so that it is sold better, internally – things will continue to be in a limbo.

Dustin refers to personal taste, after the message from American Airlines, as one of the major reasons for inertia in this area, but I disagree. Anybody who has worked in a larg’ish organization would know how difficult it is to move things around, regardless of how good the leader is or how good his tastes are.

It requires champions who are hands-on and articulate, to sell such changes within organizations. When it comes to adoption of social media as a communication mode, it becomes all the more important that an internal champion spearheads such changes – for corporate communicators, marketing communicators or even marketing folks within an organization, this is a great opportunity to usher change and get on the good books of senior management!

Kudos to that American Airlines employee for listening to the buzz online. And responding so well. He deserves a promotion!

PS: Got to know about the American Airlines thingy from David Churbuck’s blog post!



4 thoughts on “The case for American Airlines’ website redesign

  1. Karthik,

    I have a penchant for User Interface Design, if I did a similar thing to itwofs / milliblog / RBBoT what would be your response? 😛

  2. For ItwoFS, I’d love it, since it sucks now! And I know, it sucks. I don’t want the blog format, since I want to maintain it as a website and not a blog.

    For Milliblog and RBBoT too, if I like it, I’d love to change it 🙂

  3. American Airlines needs to learn how to run an Airline the website redesign is the lest of the problems! Perhaps if they didn’t have the worst customer service on the face of the earth for the last 30 years you might have some hope! At this point the company is little more than a bad joke that stays in business through government bailouts.They have been one of the top 5 worst run companies for over 30 years ,even beating out the likes of yikes.. Sprint.

    sorry I just couldn’t resist
    they suck that much

    and NO I would never fly American Airlines even for free in a depression!

  4. As we know, design by a committee can be challenging. I’v had the most success by spending time up front with all of the stake-holders in the same room, at the same time.

    Hard to organize, yes. Worth it-absolutely!

    Plan on talking about shared concerns, and develop a group think based on clear objectives –the result of going through an old-fashioned exercise in tone and voice of the project.

    . ..but you already knew this. And both of the clients I’ve in mind were solid organizations lacking the specific business problems of AA.

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