My full original comments:
"Jet Blue's site is preferable visually It's clean and sharp with a clear focus on searching for flights. The Continental site has too many little ads for things, 2 for a credit card, Vegas, Farelock, merger news and Adidas. Problem is that they give the site a very busy feeling without adding value. Jet Blue has some across the bottom, but b/c they are all in style with the page, and each other, they're not distracting.
Continental's menus across the top are a bit long, but win over Jet Blue. They're well categorized at the top level, but too many options. They could be shortened by having mid level categories. It's always a balance. Jet Blue's on the other hand are too broad. I attempted to find baggage information. On continental, I found it immediately under "Flight Information". On Jet Blue I had to poke around and found it under "Manage Flights", but worse than this was that it was below some ads below the fold under Helpful Information. All of that information should be given greater visibility from the homepage.
I was initially attracted to Jet Blue's site b/c of the clean layout, but as I looked closer as a consumer, I found Continental more functional (once you get beyond the noise on the home page). This is a great example of some of the conflicting elements in web design, form versus function. It's no good if it looks great and doesn't work, or if it's ugly but works. It needs to do both. Sadly, though Jet Blue's site is less functional in some ways, I suspect most people will find it a better experience b/c if feels better and less confusing"
Original article and comments at NYT "You're the Boss" blog
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