Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More love from the NYT- Jet Blue vs. Continental Airlines Websites

Back in March, I got a wee mention in the New York Times for some comments I made critiquing a website on their You're the Boss blog. Today, more of my comments were highlighted for inclusion in the summary of the comparison of Jet Blue and Continental Airlines websites.
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.
Functionally, the tabs behind Continental's flight search make more sense except that Vacation is not a tab but a link to another site. However, Jet Blue's tabs are how it keeps it's home page clean (some of the elements that busy Continental's site are in the tabs for Jet Blue.)
Calendar Functions: I'm at odds on those. Jet Blue has only the calendar and doesn't allow you to type a date, where Continental gives the option of either typing or using the calendar function. While I'm sure more people use the pop out calendar feature, I'm not convinced that it should be the only option.
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
Previous post: Nice to Get a Wee Mention in the NYT

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