2014 | Alaska Airlines
In 2014 I was responsible for converting Alaska Airlines $2.5 billion eCommerce site into a modern, responsive, and accessible platform with better conversion rate, better branding, and better ancillary marketing. The goals of this project:
- modernize the user experience & improve merchandising
- make the site and navigation responsive
- improve information discovery by rethinking the site navigation
- make the site accessible for people with motor and visual impairments
- improve conversion rate, and
- improve the overall customer experience.
My goals for the team:
- develop Alaska's UX practice & establish a design culture in the eCommerce organization
I was responsible for Alaska's overall online experience. I ran this project, and I managed the UX and visual designers who worked on the project. I also led all stakeholder meetings.
Here's the site experience prior this work.
The prior site was functional, but was not responsive or accessible, did not represent the brand, and a good but stagnant conversion rate.
prior mobile homepage
The site was not responsive, so mobile browsers saw the following on alaskaair.com
The process started with a concept my team built with a design agency. While that concept was inspiring, it was incomplete, untested, and required significant design work to make usable. My first task was to understand the business goals and objectives for the project and ensure everyone was aligned to them. From there, I began to sequence the redesign work. This included undertaking a survey of what major features/pages the site contained. I then worked with the designers to assign areas of ownership for features, and create a high level plan for the work that needed to be done. Then we dug in with research (interviews, usability studies, card sorts) as we created lo- and mid-fidelity concepts for user flows, navigation, and page layouts:
The results of a card sort study I used to inform information architecture for the new site.
Examples of the more than 100 user tests conducted on the redesign.
Guerrilla Testing at Airport
We also conducted guerrilla usability tests at the airport so we could iterate quickly on concepts (cool to see a passenger note it in a tweet!)
Eventually the design was polished enough to move beyond user testing and into the revenue-generating world. Design isn't complete in e-commerce until the data says it meets business goals, and so I opted to A/B test the new experience against the existing one. During A/B testing of the experience, I served as focal to review the data from a design perspective, and hypothesize and propose design solutions to issues that were revealed.
This was the final design and some of its features:
The new experience featured geo-targeted hero images to provided local images to dozens of metro areas.
It also featured better ancillary marketing to non-flight products and services (below the fold).
redesigned mobile & tablet experience
The new experience was responsive, with a homepage and navigation that scaled elegantly from a desktop breakpoint all the way down to handheld.
The design was successfully launched in the spring of 2015. As a result of several optimization efforts through A/B testing the site saw a 2.5% conversion rate increase. It was also accessible for people with visual/motor impairments and responsive for mobile and tablet browsers.
Customer feedback to the redesign was extremely positive. Here are a few samples.
tweets from happy fliers
Beyond the operational data that revealed higher engagement with the site, we also received great impromptu feedback from Alaska fliers.
My strategic work leading the designers and building the team's ability was an important element of my effort and the most rewarding for me. As part of that effort I created processes and structures to help the team—and the company--grow into a design-first culture.