Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Voices That Matter

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

You can do it

Can a team within a large organization create a radical website design and convince stakeholders to remove content and features?

“The old home page was a billboard,” says Fran Dattilo, the project manager for Marriott’s 2009 home page redesign. “Everyone said, ‘It’s too cluttered, you’ve got to change it,’ and everyone thought that their stuff had to stay on the new home page.”

Marriott’s user testing said the home page was a members-only club. It worked fine for regular customers, but newbies got lost and confused.

The home page redesign had to be flexible, but the user experience team discovered they’d created a monster that had grown out of control. They set about creating a design that was deliberately inflexible.

There were fewer content areas and only one featured item—the top item on a fan of cards. This slashed the number of links on the home page from 77 to 43, a big reduction in clutter.

To convince the company, the team gathered evidence. The new home page was the most tested design Marriott had ever launched, backed up with data from the live site. “We went back to our main stakeholders, and we could tell them that this link only got 500 clicks a year and that the new design worked in China as well as the U.S.”

Even so, launch was stressful, recalls Mariana Cavalcanti, Marriott’s Director of User Experience. “We came in at 3:30 in the morning to watch it go live. We had prepared the company for a 10 to 15 percent dip in bookings at first—that was important. But there was no dip. Satisfaction scores did fall—our regular users didn’t see any need for change. But four months later satisfaction was above our previous levels. We still see a lot of comments on message boards comparing us to similar brands. We’ve made them look ugly.”

Simple design is often said to be the work of a single visionary designer, a “ruthless” or “uncompromising” innovator. But most of us work in organizations where there’s a lot of political give-and-take. Marriott shows you can simplify with a shared vision, a focus on the mainstream user, and a thoroughly researched design.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account