AA.com’s turbulent landing

AA.com's turbulent landing
When it’s time to purchase airline tickets online you eventually stumble upon AA.com.  To me AA.com is one of the worst user experiences out there and yet one of the most visited. We are talking about one of the largest corporations in the US , ranked as the largest air carrier in the world in 2006. Their website  can average 760,000 visits per day and yet it looks like it was designed in 1998.
The big question is why can’t they put together a decent web experience?? Clearly its not they don’t have enough resources or a good web design team. The problem is precisely that.. THEY ARE TOO BIG.

A fellow designer named Dustin Curtis took the time to write a letter to AA inviting them to re-think the way they look online. He actually redesigned their homepage and sent them a mock-up.  Sometime after, he received a response letter from an experience architect who works at AA.com. The response was revealing. It appears the guy  in charge is actually a pretty good designer with plenty of experience and an extensive portfolio under his belt. Yet, his efforts are overwhelmed by the evil forces of the corporate world:  a gigantic group of people that work in different departments, all with their own set of interests on the homepage appearance.

I bring this example to touch on the following point. No matter how big an organization is, and no matter how many professionals put their efforts into a website, in the end its the user who will spend 1, 5 or 10 minutes interacting with the brand and the one who deserves the best seat in the house.

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