This was my first and last project at Expedia and I am so glad it finally launched. This is the first time that a company of this size tries to do responsive design.
I was lucky to join at the right moment when the design team was still in the early stage of exploring homepage redesign. I joined as a principle lead managing the team responsible for the homepage and landing pages in August 2012. At that time the design team were A/B testing a few different homepage concepts. One of the main challenges we faced was convincing the leadership that we had to change the homepage. Since it had not been significantly changed for years and people don’t like big changes, every time we tried something drastic, it affected the bottom line. It took awhile, but my team came up with a concept that got the company excited.
After a long process of negotiation, we decided that we would go ahead and completely redesign the homepage and launch it in beta mode. We wanted to let people opt-in instead of force them into the new design. That way we could get enough traffic to test what’s working without affecting the bottom line too much. We got buyoff from the leadership team and we started the planning process.
Note: To opt-in, go to expedia.com and click on the Show Me button below the header. Make sure you leave some feedback.
It took us awhile to revamp the search wizard, since it is the most important piece of functionality on the page. After a lot of user lab studies and A/B tests, we came up with a model that worked. I am particularly proud of the ability for users to organically build packages from any line of business. For example, you can start out booking a flight and add a hotel and a car to your search. It felt really intuitive.
Another thing that I love about the search form is that it works on desktop and tablets. The reason we didn’t make it work for mobile was that the mobile platform is owned by a separate organization within Expedia. But technically it is not out of reach.
The main story behind the new design is around the idea that travel is supposed to be personal, fun and easy. So we wanted to make sure that the new design conveyed that. We simplified the form and made it much more accessible on touch devices. We used a huge hero image that we hoped would get users into the right mood. We made sure that we remembered you when you come back. Although not all of the ideas have been implemented, it does show where we want to go. I feel like the company is going in the right direction and it has the right kind of people to be successful.
Some of you may wonder why I left if things were going well. I was approached by a late stage startup that promised to let me revamp the product from scratch. It is something that I have always wanted to do, so I went for it. I am very glad though that I had a chance to leave my mark at Expedia and can now finally see it go live.