What If You Redesigned American Airlines’ Site For Free And Got A Response?

Why do most corporate sites lag so far behind smaller organizations?

You’ll get your answer soon enough.

Meet Dustin Curtis. He’s a designer that took it upon himself to redesign the American Airlines site and post it on the web.

And he got a response. Here are some selected quotes from an anonymous UX Designer at American Airlines:

First, an introduction. I'm Mr X, and I work here at AA.com. I've been doing UX design and development for about 10 years with a variety of companies in a variety of industries, and I work with a team of other UX specialists on AA.com. I like to think I'm decent at what I do, and I know the others I work with here are all pretty good. The problem with the design of AA.com, however, lies less in our competency (or lack thereof, as you pointed out in your post) and more with the culture and processes employed here at American Airlines. … AA.com is a huge corporate undertaking with a lot of tentacles that reach into a lot of interests. It's not small, by any means.

But-and I guess here's the thing I most wanted to get across-simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. … But doing the design isn't the hard part, and I think that's what a lot of outsiders don't really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small, just-get-it-done organizations. But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome, and not many, I'll bet, are jumping on this same bandwagon. They know what it's like.

So, since it won't all get done overnight, don't give us a bad grade if you don't see it happening fast enough for your taste. Even a large organization can effect change; it just takes a different approach than the methods found in smaller shops. But it'll happen because it has to, and we know that. And we'll keep on keepin' on, even if most of us really and truly would prefer to throw it all away and start over.

For large companies, redesigning something as simple as the home page is like moving the Titanic on a dime, and redesigning a complete site could take a year, because at some large companies,the number of stakeholders could reach over 100. Not kidding.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Big companies are sometimes slow to move because they make changes that could kill the revenue stream (eBay is a great example), and sometimes it’s because not just User Experience has a voice: add in Product Management, Quality Assurance, Customer Service, the guy from Accounting, some gal in Shipping, and the three people who are relatives of the CEO, and pretty soon, you have a site that’s nowhere close the original design.

That’s what all User Experience folks go through working with multiple stakeholders, right?