Thursday, January 5, 2006 Redux

There is something cool going on at

In November of 2005, Delta Airlines launched a redesigned interface and services package for, the primary Web portal for Delta ticketing and other customer services. This new site, the first major Web update since 2000, has streamlined features, including a closer focus on core consumer services such as booking trips, checking flight information, viewing itineraries, and monitoring frequent-flier miles. The site is also backed by an extensive ad campaign that includes print, outdoor, television, and online components.

According to Delta, the redesign is part of CEO Gerald Grinstein's strategy plan to bring the airline back from the brink of bankruptcy. The troubled airline hopes to cut costs by luring more travelers to its website and away from its telephone reservation lines. The phone reservation process typically costs US air carriers $8 to $10 reservation – online bookings usually cost less than a dollar.

"There are significant savings associated with getting people on It is a core part of our transformation strategy," chief marketing officer Paul Matsen said. "We're investing money today because long term there is a savings associated with customers booking online."

But what we at Fight.Boredom found so striking was not Delta's revised booking strategy, nor their new and streamlined features – admittedly, an improvement long overdue in light of Orbitz and Expedia's interface superiority. Indeed, it's's ambitious and, for a corporate design outlet, brave use of imagery and limited content real estate.

The homepage's employment of a single large square image to frame the entire layout, combined with a stylized and conscientious use of limited text and an interactive booking interface is reminiscent of a recent trend on online design which takes advantage of higher user bandwidth speeds to create richer online experiences. The result is a design that looks and feels more like a print design – and, subsequently, ties in more easily with printed media – while still taking advantage of web-specific interactivity.

And if recent usability studies are accurate – indicating that users prefer simpler, more stylized and user-friendly web designs, especially on website homepages – then perhaps can make a difference in converting phone-customers into online-customers.

As of the new website's launch, 24% of Delta's customers purchased tickets on By the end of 2005, Atlanta-based Delta expected that percentage to grow to 28% – slightly more than 10 million tickets. The company's goal is to sell 45% of its tickets online through by 2007.

The new site launches as more customers migrate online for their travel needs. In 2005, $38.5 billion in leisure tickets were bought online, rising to $43.8 billion in 2006. An estimate 53% of American travelers make travel-related purchases online. fb

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