A complete redesign of a company’s website is no trivial undertaking. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and fraught with potential technical glitches.
It’s also an opportunity to reinforce a company’s branding, or to rebrand altogether.
After a blackout period of several hours, during which its site was offline, Virgin America today launched a new version of its virginamerica.com website.
Virgin American makes much of the new site’s so-called “responsive design.” What that means: “The new website will allow guests to view and navigate the full website, no matter what device they use. The new front end will allow guests to have a much smoother mobile booking experience, in particular.”
What that means in practice, visually, is that each page is dedicated to a single function, with just a few large images, decidedly cartoonish in style. It’s as though the site were designed first and foremost to be viewed on the small screen of a smartphone, rather than on a desktop’s expansive monitor.
Test-navigating the site on my 23-inch monitor, it sometimes felt as if I were viewing a site that had been designed for the visually impaired, and for someone with the mental age of a pre-teen. The word “goofy” came to mind. Also, “fun.”
Speaking of fun, the booking app makes use of avatars, optionally, to represent the user and other members of his party. Penguins, pandas … you know, cute.
And speaking of booking, that’s what any airline’s website is all about, ultimately, and it’s where Virgin America’s new site excels. The step-by-step pages and oversized images make for a smooth, intuitive experience, whether it’s via an iPhone or a mega-monitor.
Bottom line: The overall look and feel of the site may be initially off-putting, but it serves its purpose extremely efficiently.
Reader Reality Check
Is Virgin America’s new site design a step forward for airline websites, or a gimmicky outlier?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.