Describe your nominated project—give us your elevator pitch.
Virgin America, the company that made flying fun again, wanted to make it just as fun to book travel online, and they hired Work & Co to help them. Airlines have blindly copied each other's websites for over ten years. We set out to create the first airline website built for travelers. The new VirginAmerica.com—the first responsive airline site—gets users booked in half the time (average 2-second load time, 8 seconds to checkout). Purchasing a ticket is step-by-step, and results in a reinvented, pocket-fold-up boarding pass. We also developed a visual language based on illustrations in place of slow-to-load photographs, and we took inspiration from the company's mood-lit planes and cheeky sense of humor to create an experience that felt distinctly Virgin. The look-and-feel is being deployed across all channels, including on billboards in Times Square and in airports.
What inspired you most to follow your dreams/vision while working on this project?
I listened to Massimo Vignelli interviews, discussions, and lectures obsessively after the Virgin redesign began. Vignelli served as a daily source of inspiration for me. I listened to him nonstop, the way most designers listen to music on their headphones, as I knew the redesign was a big opportunity to apply principles of the Modernist philosophy to digital. Which, by the way, is something we’re constantly pursuing and getting better at. I didn't know that he was falling critically ill during this same period of time until, at one point during the project, he solicited letters from designers whose work he had inspired. He knew he was close to the end. I was able to write him a letter in response to his request, explaining all of the ways he had influenced me, even how we were developing a language of our own to express, through digital, the way of thinking he loved so much.
When did you first know that this work was going to be something special?
We had a key moment of insight early in the project when we realized that Virgin flies to relatively few destinations. While it seems like a small piece of information, once we understood that we could expose all possible cities —that we would never have to hide these behind a dropdown menu—we understood a key part of the framework for the new website. We centered the site around this: the right information, always exposed, at the right time. When we decided this, it was the first moment that I knew that we were creating a completely new and distinct experience, and not only for the airline industry. Even then, we had to wonder how users would react to such a new paradigm. That’s why the second moment of knowing we really had something came during user testing. When an elderly woman came walking through the door and used the site effortlessly and quickly, I once again knew that VirginAmerica.com would be successful, and breakthrough.
Mobile sites or apps, that set an industry standard of excellence with its user interface design.
Sites that sets an industry standard of excellence for user interface design by creating a seamless experience for end-users.