Dustin Curtis, UX Design, and American Airlines

23 Nov 2009 - 12:25pm
4 years ago
36 replies
2899 reads
DrWex
2006

(apologies if this has been posted before - I didn't find it in the
list archives)

Start here: http://dustincurtis.com/incompetence.html
It's a story about user experience and American Airlines, both in the
real world and their online presence. The main blog post links back
to Curtis' original complaint about AA's horrid user experience, and
to a response he received from an Interaction Designer inside the
company. Who was then outed and fired.

At heart it's a small story about fitting user experience into a (big)
corporate culture. Or not.

Best respects,
--Alan Wexelblat

Comments

23 Nov 2009 - 3:02pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

Sorry Alan:

http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=47237&search=corporate

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

23 Nov 2009 - 2:19pm
dustin picasso
2009

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

24 Nov 2009 - 4:47am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 23, 2009, at 6:25 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> Start here: http://dustincurtis.com/incompetence.html
> It's a story about user experience and American Airlines, both in the
> real world and their online presence. The main blog post links back
> to Curtis' original complaint about AA's horrid user experience, and
> to a response he received from an Interaction Designer inside the
> company. Who was then outed and fired.
>
> At heart it's a small story about fitting user experience into a (big)
> corporate culture. Or not.

Really, it's a story about how an independent designer doesn't get the
world of big corporation politics. And, it's a story about how a
company which doesn't like its laundry aired in public deals with
employees who reveal stuff publicly.

This is not the first time an employee was canned because he spoke out
of school. It won't be the last.

AA has a history of both being an innovator in experience design. They
were the first airline to embrace mobile. They've done amazing things
with wayfinding. They were the first with online checkin. They've done
some innovative things on the web. Go back 25 years and you can see
real innovation in ticketing and loyalty programs. (Don't get me wrong
-- I'm not an AA fan boy. In fact, they are one of my least favorite
airlines to fly. Personally, I regularly tell my friends to avoid them
if possible. But credit is due for their innovative approach to IT.)

They also get bogged down in politics like many great companies.

From a design standpoint, there's really no story in the Dustin
Curtis thing. Any of us could sit down and, ignoring all the political
realities of a big company, come up with an "improved" redesign. But,
that's not where the challenge is, is it? It's working within the
constraints that gives design its real challenges.

There's nothing to see here. Move along.

That's my opinion.

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 8:57am
Sean Gerety
2009

Actually one topic of interest from the whole AA thing comes to mind. How
to deal with the scenario of not owning the whole page. The AA employee
spoke of various groups running different corners of the site. How does
everyone deal with scenarios like that inside there company. Luckily I work
for a small company so we haven't experienced that sort of scenario.

Sean

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 4:47 AM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Nov 23, 2009, at 6:25 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:
>
> Start here: http://dustincurtis.com/incompetence.html
>> It's a story about user experience and American Airlines, both in the
>> real world and their online presence. The main blog post links back
>> to Curtis' original complaint about AA's horrid user experience, and
>> to a response he received from an Interaction Designer inside the
>> company. Who was then outed and fired.
>>
>> At heart it's a small story about fitting user experience into a (big)
>> corporate culture. Or not.
>>
>
> Really, it's a story about how an independent designer doesn't get the
> world of big corporation politics. And, it's a story about how a company
> which doesn't like its laundry aired in public deals with employees who
> reveal stuff publicly.
>
> This is not the first time an employee was canned because he spoke out of
> school. It won't be the last.
>
> AA has a history of both being an innovator in experience design. They were
> the first airline to embrace mobile. They've done amazing things with
> wayfinding. They were the first with online checkin. They've done some
> innovative things on the web. Go back 25 years and you can see real
> innovation in ticketing and loyalty programs. (Don't get me wrong -- I'm not
> an AA fan boy. In fact, they are one of my least favorite airlines to fly.
> Personally, I regularly tell my friends to avoid them if possible. But
> credit is due for their innovative approach to IT.)
>
> They also get bogged down in politics like many great companies.
>
> From a design standpoint, there's really no story in the Dustin Curtis
> thing. Any of us could sit down and, ignoring all the political realities of
> a big company, come up with an "improved" redesign. But, that's not where
> the challenge is, is it? It's working within the constraints that gives
> design its real challenges.
>
> There's nothing to see here. Move along.
>
> That's my opinion.
>
> Jared
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

24 Nov 2009 - 9:25am
DrWex
2006

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 4:47 AM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> On Nov 23, 2009, at 6:25 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:
> At heart it's a small story about fitting user experience into a (big)
> corporate culture. Or not.
>
> Really, it's a story about how an independent designer doesn't get the world
> of big corporation politics. And, it's a story about how a company which
> doesn't like its laundry aired in public deals with employees who reveal
> stuff publicly.
[...]
> There's nothing to see here. Move along.
> That's my opinion.

Jared

Your opinion is phrased in a haughty and dismissive manner. If you
don't care to participate in the discussion, there's the 'd' key on
your keyboard, OK?

It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a story
about how UX fits into large corporate culture. And, yes, it's also
the case that Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the
company (the AA site) is produced. But Curtis is (or was) a customer.
And as you yourself noted, the experience that AA is giving its
customers stinks.

Redesigning a Web site is easy. Redesigning the user experience for a
big complex company is hard, even leaving aside the problems of AA's
particular corporate culture. But it's an important problem for UX
professionals to understand.

Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you
already know it all, great. Mazal tov. But please don't piss on
others' conversations.

--Alan

24 Nov 2009 - 10:05am
Brian Mila
2009

Indeed. If you want to design in a large corporation, you need to
master back office politics. Everyone has their own agenda and
thinks their own stuff is the most important and they will have all
their reasons to back it up.

A much more informative article would be one that shows the steps
needed to get real change. I'm guessing it would take probably one
to two years to get there. Maybe start small with some usability
testing, argue the on the front of improved customer satisfaction and
fewer complaints. If you can build a solid base to work from, then
you could begin to change things, one piece at a time. I don't
know. But if someone has done it I know I would love to know how.

Brian

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

24 Nov 2009 - 9:41am
joanie
2006

I absolutely agree with Jared.

Part if not most of design is a diplomacy challenge. Solving a design
problem is relatively easy. Getting it executed is the real challenge.

The AA story plays into a myth about design as somehow living outside
of the context in which it is created, and this often leads to solo
designers pursuing quixotic endeavors and alienating themselves
within organizations.

Sean mentions the problem of "not owning the whole page." For the
solo designer, it as a problem. But I believe the better way to
approach it is an opportunity to collaborate and in the process gain
traction for your design.

-joanie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

24 Nov 2009 - 9:53am
zakiwarfel
2004

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:25 AM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> Your opinion is phrased in a haughty and dismissive manner. If you don't care to participate in the discussion, there's the 'd' key on your keyboard, OK?

Oh, the irony in that comment.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, Messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

24 Nov 2009 - 9:54am
SemanticWill
2007

can we take it down notch. we don't want this to dissolve into a WWF
event.
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | Director, Experience Design
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
http://blog.semanticfoundry.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/semanticwill
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: semanticwill
twitter: semanticwill
skype: semanticwill
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:25 AM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 4:47 AM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>> On Nov 23, 2009, at 6:25 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:
>> At heart it's a small story about fitting user experience into a
>> (big)
>> corporate culture. Or not.
>>
>> Really, it's a story about how an independent designer doesn't get
>> the world
>> of big corporation politics. And, it's a story about how a company
>> which
>> doesn't like its laundry aired in public deals with employees who
>> reveal
>> stuff publicly.
> [...]
>> There's nothing to see here. Move along.
>> That's my opinion.
>
> Jared
>
> Your opinion is phrased in a haughty and dismissive manner. If you
> don't care to participate in the discussion, there's the 'd' key on
> your keyboard, OK?
>
> It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a story
> about how UX fits into large corporate culture. And, yes, it's also
> the case that Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the
> company (the AA site) is produced. But Curtis is (or was) a customer.
> And as you yourself noted, the experience that AA is giving its
> customers stinks.
>
> Redesigning a Web site is easy. Redesigning the user experience for a
> big complex company is hard, even leaving aside the problems of AA's
> particular corporate culture. But it's an important problem for UX
> professionals to understand.
>
> Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you
> already know it all, great. Mazal tov. But please don't piss on
> others' conversations.
>
> --Alan
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 Nov 2009 - 10:52am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Alan,

This was brought to the attention of the list once before, but didn't get a lot of discussion. I recorded my own thoughts about it on my blog: http://designaday.tumblr.com/post/235729815/incompetence

In summary, I made three observations, each directed at one of the parties involved in the story: Give the benefit of the doubt. Know your limits. Respect your employees.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

There is no good design that is not
based on the understanding of people.

- Stefano Marzano
CEO of Philips Design

24 Nov 2009 - 11:23am
Mark Schraad
2006

I think there is a constructive string worth pursuing here. Many many many
designers (ux, ixd, ai, whatever) operate within large organizations, and
many do it with a chip on their shoulder. And while counter productive, to
some extent, when no one in that organization is listening, who can blame
them. Design is across the board deserving of respect beyond tactical
execution. Design as a strategy, and design as a profession are under
utilized in large organizations.

For the responder, he merely picked the wrong venue for his venting and
exposition. A public blog has enormous SEO potential that is bound to
attract the attention of corporate PR watchdogs. Unfortunately this venue
has much the same visibility. I have been (personally) criticized for
exposing too much in a relatively frank discussion of conditions very
similar to this one. I would like to think there this could be a place share
those frustrations and a resource for finding ways to deal with these
problems. But this is the interweb... and everyone can come in the door.

24 Nov 2009 - 11:25am
bminihan
2007

This story reminds me why I don't blog as much as I'd like to.

I read the response by Mr. X - NOT as a vindictive diatribe on the ails of
his large company - but as a letter I have almost written several times.
It's from a guy who sees his company's (and his own) work slashed in public,
and feels the need to speak out about it. He felt guilty - both that his
own work wasn't more apparent in his company's web site, and that his
company can't move as fast as his impression of smaller, leaner companies.

For the record, many small companies (I've run the gamut from 5-guy startups
to 120K multi-nationals) have many of the same issues as large ones, just on
a different level and scale.

All companies have too few resources, not enough budget, too many ideas, and
too few executioners.

The greatest mistake I ever made, working for my first big company (70K
employees back in 1996) was thinking they were big enough to have solved all
of the little problems. I couldn't have been more wrong. It took 4 years
at that company, and another 4 at my next big one (120K folks) before this
sank into my thick head:

"Both large and small companies not only suffer from similar problems, but
they repeat them over and over again - because every company is comprised of
human beings, all of whom want to leave their own mark on their respective
organizations."

Over time, I have evolved a few mantras that (for me, at least) ensure my
design work makes it to production intact:
* Always assume, despite all evidence to the contrary, that most people
want to deliver quality work
* If you feel your company is too slow in delivering quality, most likely,
everyone else does, too
* If you hear "that's impossible", you're not providing enough of a
solution
* If you hear "we don't know how to do that", you need to show them how
* If no one else will do it, figure out how to do it yourself
* If you get pushback from management, marketing, sales, support,
operations, development, or the PMO office, then you're not involving them
in your design process
* If you don't like the bureaucracy, figure out how to change it
* Never bash your own company/department/colleagues in public.
* If you disagree with a group or person in the way of progress, talk to
them about it, or drop it and move on
* The folks who drive real change in large companies don't do the leg-work.
If you want to make a difference, climb out of the cube, talk to people, and
claw your way to a level where you can affect real change. If you're not up
for that, stop complaining. Yes, this can take years (and has).

It's far too easy to criticize from the outside, or from your own small silo
in a very large company. Actually doing something about it is actual work.

I have no idea why Mr. X was fired, but it seems highly unlikely that it was
for caring. Big companies are very finicky beasts, and there are a whole
host of reasons why they control all communications very tightly. I'm sure
AA's marketing and legal departments are filled with folks whose career is
to protect the company's integrity and stock price.

Bryan Minihan

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Brian
Mila
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 7:06 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Dustin Curtis, UX Design, and American Airlines

Indeed. If you want to design in a large corporation, you need to
master back office politics. Everyone has their own agenda and
thinks their own stuff is the most important and they will have all
their reasons to back it up.

A much more informative article would be one that shows the steps
needed to get real change. I'm guessing it would take probably one
to two years to get there. Maybe start small with some usability
testing, argue the on the front of improved customer satisfaction and
fewer complaints. If you can build a solid base to work from, then
you could begin to change things, one piece at a time. I don't
know. But if someone has done it I know I would love to know how.

Brian

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 Nov 2009 - 10:53am
zakiwarfel
2004

There's so much irony and contradiction in this email that, well, I'll just address them below...

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:25 AM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a story about how UX fits into large corporate culture. And, yes, it's also the case that Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the company (the AA site) is produced.[..]

That's just it. Part of UX is about understanding the business. Why, why, why don't UX people get this? A great UX designer, and I use the term designer loosely, understands the importance that the business model has in the grand scheme of UX. If you don't get that, then you fail right out of the gate. This guy didn't get that.

I think it's a shame that AA fired someone who cared so much about the customer experience on their site. However, that's where my sympathy stops. As an employee of the company and a designer, this guy needs to understand that there are things much bigger than his personal feelings and attitudes at stake here and should've considered the recoil of posting to a public forum from his company computer. Not too bright.

> Redesigning a Web site is easy.[...]

Screeeeeech (sound of brakes coming on). Clearly it's not. Your comment above even blatantly communicates that. Redesigning a website of a global business is not easy. There are a lot of factors that come into play: business goals, customer goals, legacy issues, technology platform, available resources, time, budget, impact of the change, etc. We're not talking about redesigning the website of a local bakery here, we're talking about redesigning the website of a global ebusiness. Downplaying that is dangerous to say the least.

> Redesigning the user experience for a big complex company is hard, even leaving aside the problems of AA's particular corporate culture. But it's an important problem for UX professionals to understand.

And part of that UX is the website. You're totally contradicting yourself here.

> Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you already know it all, great. Mazal tov. But please don't piss on others' conversations.

Hey kettle, you're black.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, Messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

24 Nov 2009 - 11:56am
Christian Crumlish
2006

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 8:23 AM, mark schraad <mschraad at gmail.com> wrote:

> I think there is a constructive string worth pursuing here. Many many many
> designers (ux, ixd, ai, whatever) operate within large organizations, and
> many do it with a chip on their shoulder.

True. You see this with editorial a lot too. You also see it with
paralegals. In fact, I think in any context in which one's job isn't the
core profession for a business you probably see this. Staff at universities,
etc.

-x-

--
Christian Crumlish

MY NEW BOOK: Designing Social Interfaces.
http://designingsocialinterfaces.com
Get It. Read It. Love It. Review it. on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596154925/

24 Nov 2009 - 12:19pm
Mark Schraad
2006

One of the most painful adjustments I see in designers (and myself as well)
is that when you move to a giant company and giant projects... change is
often slow and the impact of your work is smaller. When you get 25 people on
a design decision committee... the outcomes are often aggregate. While this
can be disappointing, it is a mechanism that provides stability (read slow
change).

As important as a decision to work in design or ux as opposed to product or
some other area is, the decision to work in a large corporation vs a start
up or an agency is critical and should be thought out carefully.

Mark

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM, Christian Crumlish <xian at pobox.com> wrote:

>
>
> On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 8:23 AM, mark schraad <mschraad at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I think there is a constructive string worth pursuing here. Many many many
>> designers (ux, ixd, ai, whatever) operate within large organizations, and
>> many do it with a chip on their shoulder.
>
>
> True. You see this with editorial a lot too. You also see it with
> paralegals. In fact, I think in any context in which one's job isn't the
> core profession for a business you probably see this. Staff at universities,
> etc.
>
> -x-
>
> --
> Christian Crumlish
>
> MY NEW BOOK: Designing Social Interfaces.
> http://designingsocialinterfaces.com
> Get It. Read It. Love It. Review it. on Amazon:
> http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596154925/
>

24 Nov 2009 - 12:32pm
DrWex
2006

I will try not to over-reply but since this comment seems to be
directed at me I'll put in one response...

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 10:53 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at zakiwarfel.com> wrote:
> On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:25 AM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:
> It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a story about
> how UX fits into large corporate culture.  And, yes, it's also the case that
> Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the company (the AA site)
> is produced.[..]
>
> That's just it. Part of UX is about understanding the business. Why, why,
> why don't UX people get this?

I don't understand what you're ranting about. If you're saying that
"Curtis doesn't get it" then we're in vehement agreement.

> Redesigning a Web site is easy.[...]
>
> Screeeeeech (sound of brakes coming on). Clearly it's not. Your comment
> above even blatantly communicates that.

Sorry, I used the word "redesigning" too loosely. I was referring to
the proposed surface and IA improvements that an outsider like Curtis
suggested - I should have said "coming up with redesign concepts." It
is much easier just to sit down as an outsider and say "I think I
could improve things in this or that way" than it is to enact such
changes within a corporate framework. I think that's a large part of
what Mr XX was trying to point out. If you think of the whole process
of redesign, I agree it's not an easy thing.

[I said]
> Or at least, some of us.  If it's not important for you, and you already
> know it all, great. Mazal tov.  But please don't piss on others' conversations.
in response to Jared's "move on" comment, which I took as a statement
that the conversation should end.

[Todd responds]
> Hey kettle, you're black.

I take this to be your accusation that I have similarly told people to
end a particular conversation. I would like you either to substantiate
that accusation or withdraw it.

Cheers,
--Alan

24 Nov 2009 - 1:29pm
zakiwarfel
2004

On Nov 24, 2009, at 12:32 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> I don't understand what you're ranting about. If you're saying that "Curtis doesn't get it" then we're in vehement agreement.

I'm saying that the majority of the UX community doesn't get this, which is just a shame. It's one of the things holding back this community.

> Sorry, I used the word "redesigning" too loosely. I was referring to the proposed surface and IA improvements that an outsider like Curtis suggested - I should have said "coming up with redesign concepts."

Now that is more accurate and true. A redesign is a redesign, which is not what a few visual comps are.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, Messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

24 Nov 2009 - 12:57pm
Nickgould
2009

It's hard for an independent designer to get attention and showcase
his talents or design perspective. I give Dustin a lot of credit for
putting his work out there. And, at first, when the initial response
from the AA employee came in, it was a kind of exciting example of how
real, productive conversations about real, frustrating design
challenges (including political, organizational challenges) can
emerge out of efforts like Dustin's. In retrospect, it was unwise
for the employee to allow the verbatim text of his email to be
published. And, while it's not surprising or even "wrong" that the
employee was terminated, it really is a shame that something that
started with good intentions ended badly. I'm sure that Dustin feels
terrible about the outcome.

But Dustin is not the first / only person to critique or redesign a
public site as a way of getting attention. In fact, I just ran across
these guys who critique homepages to showcase their commenting tool:
https://zurb.notableapp.com/website-feedback/17215/TechCrunch-Deconstructed

To some, Dustin's idea might seem presumptuous and naive, and his
work is very easy to dismiss as being unencumbered by the internal
realities at AA. I think that's a fair criticism. But that doesn't
mean it isn't worth mentioning, discussing, considering on a board
like this. If nothing else, it's interesting that the whole event
got so much attention...

Todd: The AA employee didn't "post to a public forum," he sent an
email to Dustin and then foolishly allowed it to be published
anonymously. AA then searched its Exchange logs for the text in order
to identify and fire him. Also, I fail to see what any of this has to
to with the AA "business model." Dustin well understood the
business but ignored the political obstacles in the way of creating a
purely user-centric aa.com. In my experience, a company's internal
politics often cause it to act in contravention of it's obvious
business interests.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

24 Nov 2009 - 1:22pm
Anonymous

why not moderators here take off objectionable comments or warn people over
here?

Best,
.Kr
https://flashactions.com

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 11:02 PM, Alan Wexelblat <awexelblat at gmail.com>wrote:

> I will try not to over-reply but since this comment seems to be
> directed at me I'll put in one response...
>
> On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 10:53 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at zakiwarfel.com>
> wrote:
> > On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:25 AM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:
> > It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a
> story about
> > how UX fits into large corporate culture. And, yes, it's also the case
> that
> > Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the company (the AA
> site)
> > is produced.[..]
> >
> > That's just it. Part of UX is about understanding the business. Why, why,
> > why don't UX people get this?
>
> I don't understand what you're ranting about. If you're saying that
> "Curtis doesn't get it" then we're in vehement agreement.
>
> > Redesigning a Web site is easy.[...]
> >
> > Screeeeeech (sound of brakes coming on). Clearly it's not. Your comment
> > above even blatantly communicates that.
>
> Sorry, I used the word "redesigning" too loosely. I was referring to
> the proposed surface and IA improvements that an outsider like Curtis
> suggested - I should have said "coming up with redesign concepts." It
> is much easier just to sit down as an outsider and say "I think I
> could improve things in this or that way" than it is to enact such
> changes within a corporate framework. I think that's a large part of
> what Mr XX was trying to point out. If you think of the whole process
> of redesign, I agree it's not an easy thing.
>
> [I said]
> > Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you already
> > know it all, great. Mazal tov. But please don't piss on others'
> conversations.
> in response to Jared's "move on" comment, which I took as a statement
> that the conversation should end.
>
> [Todd responds]
> > Hey kettle, you're black.
>
> I take this to be your accusation that I have similarly told people to
> end a particular conversation. I would like you either to substantiate
> that accusation or withdraw it.
>
> Cheers,
> --Alan
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

24 Nov 2009 - 3:33pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 24, 2009, at 6:32 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> [I said]
>> Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you
>> already
>> know it all, great. Mazal tov. But please don't piss on others'
>> conversations.
> in response to Jared's "move on" comment, which I took as a statement
> that the conversation should end.

For the record, I didn't say that the conversation should end. I said
that I believed there was nothing to see here and we should move on.

Moving the conversation into a place where it actually moves us
forward and provides new insights is highly desirable, in my mind. I'm
all for it. Let's not end it, let's make it insightful.

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 3:30pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 24, 2009, at 3:25 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> Your opinion is phrased in a haughty and dismissive manner. If you
> don't care to participate in the discussion, there's the 'd' key on
> your keyboard, OK?

Good to know what that's for. However, I keep pressing it and all I
get is ddddddddddd.

> It's my opinion, as I said in the original message, that it's a story
> about how UX fits into large corporate culture. And, yes, it's also
> the case that Curtis doesn't understand how the external face of the
> company (the AA site) is produced. But Curtis is (or was) a customer.
> And as you yourself noted, the experience that AA is giving its
> customers stinks.

I don't think *this* is a story about how UX fits into large corporate
culture, since it's told, primarily from the viewpoint outside of the
large corporate culture that doesn't get large corporate culture.
While there may be a story about how UX fits into large corporate
culture, I don't think this is it.

I'll try it again: ddddd. Damn.

> Redesigning a Web site is easy. Redesigning the user experience for a
> big complex company is hard, even leaving aside the problems of AA's
> particular corporate culture. But it's an important problem for UX
> professionals to understand.

We're in agreement there. ddddd. I think mine is broken. Scheduling a
Genius Bar appointment.

> Or at least, some of us. If it's not important for you, and you
> already know it all, great. Mazal tov.

I think that's Mazel Tov. (Just trying to prove the know-it-all
point. :) )

> But please don't piss on
> others' conversations.

When I think we're focusing on the wrong part of the problem, I always
use a haughty and dismissive manner. I'm quite consistent on this.

Of course, if you don't like it, maybe your d key works better than
mine.

:)

Pissing away...

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 4:47pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 24, 2009, at 6:19 PM, mark schraad wrote:

> One of the most painful adjustments I see in designers (and myself
> as well)
> is that when you move to a giant company and giant projects...
> change is
> often slow and the impact of your work is smaller. When you get 25
> people on
> a design decision committee... the outcomes are often aggregate.
> While this
> can be disappointing, it is a mechanism that provides stability
> (read slow
> change).
>
> As important as a decision to work in design or ux as opposed to
> product or
> some other area is, the decision to work in a large corporation vs a
> start
> up or an agency is critical and should be thought out carefully.

In my experience, this happens commonly because the organization
hasn't done a good job of building and disseminating a solid
experience vision to work from. When we look at teams that are doing
this well, having that vision is a key component.

The vision gives everyone involved to ask the question, "Is this
specific design solution getting us closer to or farther from the
vision?" The teams that focus on making sure everyone is clear on the
vision spends less time designing-by-committee.

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 5:04pm
Nickgould
2009

Fair points, Jared. Although in actual fact, in most states people can be fired for any or no reason - that's called "employment at will." There would need to be a process, of course, to validate that there was no discrimination in the termination and they prefer to have some kind of paper trail. In this case, it would be a no-brainer as the employee almost certainly violated company confidentiality obligations.

Dustin's design may not be successful, but it's not because he doesn't understand AA's "business model" - which was my point.

As an aside, it's disheartening that another IxDA thread needs to devolve into dueling minutiae...

Nicholas Gould
CEO
Catalyst Group
v: (212) 243-7777 x203
f: (646) 390-5658
e: ngould at catalystnyc.com
t: twitter.com/nickgould
b: www.catalystnyc.com/cofactors
w: www.catalystnyc.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Jared Spool [mailto:jspool at uie.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:53 PM
To: Nick Gould
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Dustin Curtis, UX Design, and American Airlines

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:57 AM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Todd: The AA employee didn't "post to a public forum," he sent an
> email to Dustin and then foolishly allowed it to be published
> anonymously. AA then searched its Exchange logs for the text in order
> to identify and fire him.

To be fair, we haven't heard AA's management's side of this.

We don't know if the AA employee had a record of reckless behavior. We
don't know if there were other incidents involved. We don't even know
if the story of discovering the employee through the Exchange logs is
even true.

AA is a company that has union rules to follow. While the designer
wasn't likely a union member, a company that large with those
constraints typically has huge HR constraints. They can't fire someone
on a whim, without proper warnings and documentation.

So, I'm betting there's more to this story than we know. I think it's
foolish of us to reach judgements based on conjecture and hearsay
about what happened.

> Also, I fail to see what any of this has to
> to with the AA "business model." Dustin well understood the
> business but ignored the political obstacles in the way of creating a
> purely user-centric aa.com. In my experience, a company's internal
> politics often cause it to act in contravention of it's obvious
> business interests.

In fact, we have no evidence that Dustin's design is actually user-
centric. Have you used it? Have you seen anyone use it?

It looks great. It smells great. But, does it, in fact, do the job it
needs to do?

Again, it feels like we're jumping to conclusions here.

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 4:53pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:57 AM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Todd: The AA employee didn't "post to a public forum," he sent an
> email to Dustin and then foolishly allowed it to be published
> anonymously. AA then searched its Exchange logs for the text in order
> to identify and fire him.

To be fair, we haven't heard AA's management's side of this.

We don't know if the AA employee had a record of reckless behavior. We
don't know if there were other incidents involved. We don't even know
if the story of discovering the employee through the Exchange logs is
even true.

AA is a company that has union rules to follow. While the designer
wasn't likely a union member, a company that large with those
constraints typically has huge HR constraints. They can't fire someone
on a whim, without proper warnings and documentation.

So, I'm betting there's more to this story than we know. I think it's
foolish of us to reach judgements based on conjecture and hearsay
about what happened.

> Also, I fail to see what any of this has to
> to with the AA "business model." Dustin well understood the
> business but ignored the political obstacles in the way of creating a
> purely user-centric aa.com. In my experience, a company's internal
> politics often cause it to act in contravention of it's obvious
> business interests.

In fact, we have no evidence that Dustin's design is actually user-
centric. Have you used it? Have you seen anyone use it?

It looks great. It smells great. But, does it, in fact, do the job it
needs to do?

Again, it feels like we're jumping to conclusions here.

Jared

24 Nov 2009 - 6:58pm
zakiwarfel
2004

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:57 AM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Todd: The AA employee didn't "post to a public forum," he sent an email to Dustin and then foolishly allowed it to be published anonymously. AA then searched its Exchange logs for the text in order to identify and fire him.

Splitting hairs, Nick. He allowed his email to be posted to a public forum, Dustin's blog. That's a public forum (not in the usergroup forum sense, but in the use of forum as a public space). According to Dustin, Mr. X said he could post the email to Dustin's blog. You're splitting hairs here, but if you really want to quibble over a hair, then fine. I'll retract my statement of Mr X. posted to a public forum to Mr X. foolishly authorized Dustin to post his email to a very public forum.

There. We good?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, Messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

24 Nov 2009 - 11:15pm
Nickgould
2009

Todd, I don't think it's splitting hairs at all. You stated that Mr.
X "posted publicly" - when in actual fact he *thought* he was
remaining anonymous. These are two very different scenarios.

I think if you're going to accuse someone of being "not too
bright." You should at least get your facts straight.

Anyway, retraction accepted.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

25 Nov 2009 - 12:27am
Jaanus Kase
2008

If anything, this whole thing is an example of how Internet
democratizes sales and marketing such as airline homepages, and how
smaller companies have an opportunity they did not have 25 years ago,
when AA did those innovations, and when it took a lot more muscle to
reach people.

If I want to buy an airline ticket, and I go to an airline homepage,
they have 5 seconds to impress me. Imagine two companies, one small,
lean-and-mean, with great user experience. The other is aa.com. Guess
which one I will choose? And will I base my decision on the
seller%u2019s internal politics and complexities of change, or
something else?

Maybe aa.com works great for their customers and their business
purposes; we don%u2019t know. But we do know that design can affect
purchasing decisions either way, and lean-and-mean companies are able
to execute and iterate faster.

I don%u2019t buy what%u2019s said above, that all companies are the
same regarding politics. Some are really focused on product, design
and buyer, and some are focused on something else. Priorities and
policies do differ. Some companies welcome and embrace the kind of
public activism that Mr. X practised, AA clearly does not.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47591

25 Nov 2009 - 12:45am
Weston Thompson
2005

I have had mostly *good* experiences flying AA. The extra leg room in
economy is always welcomed. As for the web part...

Curtis' redesign looks pretty at a glance, but I have been able to use the
AA web site *quite successfully*. Their busy home page has never been a
barrier to me. I just ignore the noise and focus on my task. Not to be a
Jared Spool fanboy, but it reminds me of his talk about people's ability to
quickly winnow their field of vision if the structure supports that, has
scent, etc. It works for me.

(I am not an AA fanboy either. I am somewhat locked into flying with AA
frequently due to my relatives living near DFW. I'm not always happy about
that, and I have groused before about them exploiting that to up their
fares. On the web front, I also dislike very much their use of red to
indicate the primary button in their booking flow. I have actually
abandoned bookings accidentally due to that more than one time. Doesn't red
mean "avoid"?? But that has not been enough to outweigh the other aspects or
drive me to an alternate carrier.)

-Weston
IA @ Capital Group / American Funds

25 Nov 2009 - 4:07am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 24, 2009, at 11:04 PM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Fair points, Jared. Although in actual fact, in most states people
> can be fired for any or no reason - that's called "employment at
> will." There would need to be a process, of course, to validate that
> there was no discrimination in the termination and they prefer to
> have some kind of paper trail. In this case, it would be a no-
> brainer as the employee almost certainly violated company
> confidentiality obligations.

And, since we're talking about actual fact (versus any other type of
fact), most companies have a process to protect them from litigation
which involves written warnings, probation periods, and disciplinary
reviews. None of this happens quickly. While companies *can* dismiss
quickly, if there's no threat of imminent risk, they tend not to, to
protect their ass/assets.

That's why I find this whole thing suspicious.

Jared

25 Nov 2009 - 8:38am
Nickgould
2009

Boy, we really need to be careful when using idioms around you, Jared. Maybe instead of a usability guru, you should be an attorney, or Fox News reporter.

Nicholas Gould
CEO
Catalyst Group
v: 212.243.7777 x203
f: 646.390.5658
e: ngould at catalystnyc.com
t: twitter.com/nickgould
w: www.catalystnyc.com
________________________________________
From: Jared Spool [jspool at uie.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 4:07 AM
To: Nick Gould
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Dustin Curtis, UX Design, and American Airlines

On Nov 24, 2009, at 11:04 PM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Fair points, Jared. Although in actual fact, in most states people
> can be fired for any or no reason - that's called "employment at
> will." There would need to be a process, of course, to validate that
> there was no discrimination in the termination and they prefer to
> have some kind of paper trail. In this case, it would be a no-
> brainer as the employee almost certainly violated company
> confidentiality obligations.

And, since we're talking about actual fact (versus any other type of
fact), most companies have a process to protect them from litigation
which involves written warnings, probation periods, and disciplinary
reviews. None of this happens quickly. While companies *can* dismiss
quickly, if there's no threat of imminent risk, they tend not to, to
protect their ass/assets.

That's why I find this whole thing suspicious.

Jared

25 Nov 2009 - 9:51am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 25, 2009, at 2:38 PM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Boy, we really need to be careful when using idioms around you,
> Jared. Maybe instead of a usability guru, you should be an attorney,
> or Fox News reporter.

Sorry. I grew up in a family of lawyers.

It's hard to get lawyer-think out of one's system.

Jared

25 Nov 2009 - 9:54am
zakiwarfel
2004

You can the boy out of the lawyer, but you can't take the... oh, nevermind.

On Nov 25, 2009, at 9:51 AM, Jared Spool wrote:

> It's hard to get lawyer-think out of one's system.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, Messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

25 Nov 2009 - 10:40am
Paul Sherman
2006

I was thinking (hoping?) that the epithet "usability guru" was going to make Jared all apoplectic and rant-y.

:-)

- Paul

On Nov 25, 2009, at 2:38 PM, Nick Gould wrote:

> Boy, we really need to be careful when using idioms around you, Jared. Maybe instead of a usability guru, you should be an attorney, or Fox News reporter.

25 Nov 2009 - 10:46am
Jared M. Spool
2003

Hey, if Nick wants to continue with the delusion that I'm some sort of
usability guru, who am I to argue with him?

Jared

On Nov 25, 2009, at 4:40 PM, Paul Sherman wrote:

> I was thinking (hoping?) that the epithet "usability guru" was going
> to make Jared all apoplectic and rant-y.
>
> :-)
>
> - Paul
>
> On Nov 25, 2009, at 2:38 PM, Nick Gould wrote:
>
>> Boy, we really need to be careful when using idioms around you,
>> Jared. Maybe instead of a usability guru, you should be an
>> attorney, or Fox News reporter.
>

12 Dec 2009 - 9:00pm
cfmdesigns
2004

On Nov 24, 2009, at 9:45 PM, Weston Thompson wrote:

> On the web front, I also dislike very much their use of red to
> indicate the primary button in their booking flow. I have actually
> abandoned bookings accidentally due to that more than one time.
> Doesn't red
> mean "avoid"??

No, red does not mean "avoid". It means stop, and luck, and "this is
turned on", and tasty, and rare, and wounded, and it's a primary
color, and it's a Christmas color, and it's a Valentine's Day color,
and you get the picture. And of course in this case, it's a logo
color for American Airlines (and for the USA). If you have a "this
only means one thing" definition of a given color, you probably have
problems on the web beyond not finishing booking airplane tickets.

If you want to tag a single term to the color, I would say it means
"pay attention to this", and thus may be a fine thing for "Hey, here's
what you click to finish working on this web page".

-- Jim

14 May 2010 - 7:34am
philipbrook
2008

Jim's right around 'pay attention to this' rather than 'danger'.

Psychologists now believe the perception of red is based around our instinctual reading of blood.

Basically, the colour of blood is a signal of: a potential mate via a blush (blood to the face, ready to mate kind of thing); food on the way (prey is wonded and bleeding);  one's own demise (I'm wounded, better do something quick); the demise of an enemy (they're wounded/dead so all the more resources for me and mine).

The military has done research into colour psychology (I seem to remember for submarines and spacial confinement) and they found red to be a stimulant. Hence those 'got to get ahead' 80s yuppies wore fat red spectacle frames and those fat red braces (or suspenders in the US. NB 'Suspenders' are the name for the things that hold up womens' stockings in the UK!)

Researchers recently found out that a team dressed in red* is more likely to win in a sports game against a team who is not.

* I can't remember if it said they were wearing suspenders of any kind...oh ho ho ho.

 

PB

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