Airline websites hit a new high today as we unveil our redeveloped and redesigned homepage over at www.virginatlantic.com.
Taking inspiration from other award-winning websites in the retail, banking and travel sector, the new site communicates with customers in Virgin Atlantic's typical tongue-in-cheek fashion yet provides a wealth of information.
Raising the bar
As you'd expect, we've questioned the accepted norm for airline websites and raised the bar. Booking a flight means the start of a holiday and with a long haul airline like Virgin Atlantic, it could be the adventure of a lifetime. We wanted to tap into that mood and get customers excited about their next trip.
Two of the people responsible for the new design are Christopher Ball and Julian Cross from our creative agency LBi, who work closely with an incredibly talented team of designers, usability experts and technologists to ensure our new online presence is engaging, innovative, and indisputably best in class. We caught up with them to find out how they've shaken up the rule book and tapped into the anticipation of an upcoming trip...
What were some of the main challenges you were trying to address with the new design?
Virgin came to us with a desire to exceed expectations and leap ahead of the competition. Part of the brief was to incorporate the refreshed branding and create a website experience that reflected the fabulous onboard experience of flying with Virgin Atlantic. We were also challenged with improving the customers' journey through the site by improving the functionality that allows customers to find fares and manage their booking.
What kind of research did you do, and how did that shape the development of the design?
We kicked off the project by conducting extensive user research, which gave us real insight into our audience and their digital experience. Diary studies helped us come up with a range of typical passenger 'personas', which we use on a daily basis to ensure our work is focused on the goals of the customer.
Our user-centered design approach means that we test all the designs with real passengers every three weeks, taking on board any feedback we receive.
Can you highlight some of the main changes and newest bits of functionality?
We haven’t taken a ‘big bang’ approach to updating the Virgin Atlantic website, instead replacing sections as they're built. Travel information was one of the first areas we launched, and it showcases much of the bold design and streamlined experience that are hallmarks of the new site.
The new homepage marks an important milestone, as it's the most visible part of our work so far. Coming soon are some major changes to the flight search results aimed at helping passengers find fare quotations, and a refined check-in process that will be the best in the industry.
Some of the biggest changes will be invisible to the Virgin Atlantic customer but are crucial in creating a world class website. Key to this has been building a new technical platform and integrating a brand new content management system that will allow Virgin to update its website at lightening speed.
What were the challenges of bringing the Virgin Atlantic brand to life in a digital space?
With a brand as vibrant and loved as Virgin Atlantic, there haven’t been many challenges bringing it to life! As a team we've embraced Virgin Atlantic’s passion for exploration, challenging conventions, taking risks, and striving for innovation that make the brand so unique.
We like to think we live and breathe Virgin's values, and by exploring how each of these values can be best expressed within a digital environment, we’ve designed an experience that could only come from Virgin Atlantic. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been living with parts of the old site sitting next to the new one – we can’t wait for the entire website to be complete!
The site redesign is just part of the airline’s digital strategy and is an ongoing process with customer feedback driving the project forward. 60% of the site is now live and the airline will continue to work on the remaining pages over the coming months.
To visit the new site please log on to www.virginatlantic.com. And we'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below!
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.