Redesigns and Responses: An Interesting Discusssion About Site Redesigning Without Being Comissioned

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We’ve seen, and even reported on (when they were exceptionally interesting), designers creating new layouts for websites without having been commissioned or even asked by the companies they were redesigning for. Usually spawned from some big experienced frustration or sheer embarrassment over how lousy a site is, these designers feel the need to get in there and show their web team how it should be done. Though none, to date, have been as interesting as Dustin Curtis‘ recent run-in with American Airlines. After struggling to navigate within their clumsy site, Curtis, a talented user experience designer by trade, spent a couple of hours putting together how he thought the airline’s site should look and function and then sent them the comps. While he likely expected no feedback, he was surprised to hear back, anonymously, from one of the members of American’s designers. In a lengthy, very sad note, he explains what it’s like to work there, from too many hands in the pot to forever design by committee. In short: endless meetings, much too large to function efficiently and, one might argue, with less focus on the end user. But then the letter switches gears into a more hopeful note, saying that it’s always difficult steering ships that large and that American is slowly but steadily making improvements as quickly as they can. It’s a great read from both sides, showing that there are problems with sites like these, but it’s not always as simple as just throwing together a comp over a couple hours of free time.