Interactive agency ROKKAN, working with branding agency Anomaly, has infused its intuitive design sensibility to create a next generation booking and reservation site for of new domestic carrier Virgin America which announced the start of US operations today.
"The Virgin brand has always challenged convention and the new airline raises the standard of quality, design, service and value," said John Now, CEO, and ROKKAN. "The project began in April 2006. Codenamed 'Zen,' the new site follows the same inspirational spirit in being reductive, different and brilliant by changing our perceptions of what an airline site should be."
Given the opportunity to design an airline website from the ground up, and freed from the constraints of retrofitting legacy reservation systems, six-year-old interactive agency ROKKAN drew its inspiration from the simplicity of the iPod to design a next generation airline website that streamlines the user experience.
"Our design team reviewed all of the major airline sites before beginning to build Virgin America," said Chung Ng, COO and ROKKAN's director of user experience. "We recognized that the key was to sell the Virgin Air brand experience, and then to sell tickets. Visitors first experience the new airline on its homepage via a Flash module that presents an overview of virginamerica.com and a link to the 'Virgin America Difference' microsite, which reinforces the unique brand experience."
The Virgin Air website design appears minimal, yet is highly functional. Its heart is an automated online reservation and ticketing system that delivers an enhanced level of customized service to match the elevated culture of the Virgin America brand. "The secret lies in several proprietary travel tools that add new levels of transparency to the reservation and ticketing process," said ROKKAN's Noe. "One tool tallies up charges in real time as one customizes their purchase, presenting a running total of what been added to the cart. Another, a comparison-shopping tool, presents alternative flights and prices on the fly as one keys in travel dates and destinations."
"A light page weight and Ajax technology enhance the site's speed and efficiency, presenting features that the typical user might not consciously notice until their transaction has been completed in record time," according to Charles Bae, ROKKAN vice president and creative director. "Finally, travel data, including city information, weather forecasts, etc., is presented in four sections on the ticket itself."