The Tesla of Online Airline Ticket Booking is Virgin

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The notorious flag glooming over most airline ticketing portals is hanging on a price pole. Commissions are held back like a receding hairline. I’d rather shave it than wax nostalgic sporting a comb over.

Hemmed on that flag are the letters “FUCK” in big bold letters, underlined, enclosed in a starburst, catching a welfare fluff.

“It’s got to be fucking cheap bro! Fucking cheap as fuck,” the users or travellers have you believe. Like, calm your tits mate.

There are experts, who’ve swam the seven seas doing only what I can imagine to be a cocktail of playing cabin tease and conveyor belt burlesque, while navigating the broken and hidden treasures of depleting hairlines.

(No, seriously… respect bro.)

Past the barrage of crappy and overwhelming experiences I found comfort, trust and connection in the following four places. Clear indicator of commitment issues, however, doesn’t stop me from having a lover.

The first two examples are my favourite followed by two I have recently discovered and found to have an instant infatuation for because, let’s be honest, everything else is visually and functionally haemorrhoid-inducing.

I intend to focus on the experiences and not the cheapest fucking fare. Although all of the shortlists do that very well. In this blog we will explore the first two. I will spend some time on the following two and come back with my observations and two fucking cents in part two.

“Hey Paul! They have shareholders, people, bills, product strategy and there’s an audience for what they are selling. And they seem to be doing well,” you say.

They aren’t bad people. You know what, good on them for trying. But, guess what, it’s my party so let’s dive into an adolescent-pee-free pool for a change.

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1. Cleartrip
The best user experience hands down. Form meets function rests here. The website, iPhone app and Apple Watch app work so beautifully every-single-time. Platform agnostic 101. UX and UI gods have spoken.

Everything is intuitive and where I want it to be. No crappy banner ads punching you square in the chin, anywhere.

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A log of your trips is available from an icon at the bottom of the screen, the Expressway feature makes booking Uber-like easy and the Passbook entry one gets on making a booking.

Mmm…

Every little ding dang whoosh is a tease. Ok, maybe I got carried away there but I can balance it out by cracking a whip on the logo dressed in To Do List overalls. Visit Cleartrip.

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2. Virgin America
The only (which I’m aware of) brand-and-user-led (not just user-led but bringing the brand voice into context is so fucking rare) non-template design comes from approaching the entire experience from scratch. Kind of like Tesla’s approach to building electric cars ground up and not trying to retro fit electric motors into a chassis meant for gas engines but for websites.

Same level of epic cool.

Work & Co (a digital company) approached the design with the following framework focusing on the purchase path.

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Joe Stewart & Felipe Memoria talk about Virgin America’s new site.

You can watch the clip here and read the case study here.

They also talk about experimenting with their agency model and working collaboratively by setting up an outpost at the client’s office. And no presentations. In another article Joe talked about exploring Pentagram’s model where Partners lead projects. Another elaborate discussion on why the current agency model is broken for a future blog.

Visit VirginAmerica.com.

Did you catch that? Let me just pause you here for a second. These two products are great examples of the former when design is user-function-led and the later doing all the above but also bringing brand (Virgin) into context.

That is fucking key. The brand voice is not an aesthetic layer but deep-seated- a part of the function and behaviour- a compelling story for the user to experience.

The lack of brand in the digital universe is cringe worthy. More on that in a future blog.

Adioso and Kiwi reviews and impressions coming in part two. We request all passengers to fasten their seat belts and hang tight.

Be sure to checkout my #365 Day Project on instagram.com/paulsyng.

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I think I’ve been watching a lot of Bill Burr. Fuck.