e-commerce redesign | alaska airlines | 2014



Alaska Airlines wanted to convert its $2.5 billion eCommerce site into a modern, responsive, and accessible platform with better conversion rate, better branding, and better ancillary marketing.

my role

UX Design Manager. I was responsible for Alaska's overall online experience.

I ran the project with a design agency, and managed the Alaska Air UX and visual designers who worked on the project and produced the images below. I also led all stakeholder reviews.




  1. modernize the user experience & improve merchandising

  2. make the site and navigation responsive; improve info discovery

  3. make the site W3C WCAG 2.0 accessible

  4. improve conversion rate, and overall customer experience.

  5. My goal for the team: develop Alaska's UX practice & establish a design culture in the eCommerce organization


prior experience

Here's the site experience prior this work.

prior homepage

The prior site was functional, but was not responsive or accessible, did not represent the brand, and a good but stagnant conversion rate. 


prior mobile homepage

The site was not responsive, so mobile browsers saw the following on alaskaair.com



The process started with a concept my team built with a design agency. While that concept was inspiring, it was incomplete, untested, and required significant design work to make usable. My first task was to understand the business goals and objectives for the project and ensure everyone was aligned to them. From there, I began to sequence the redesign work. This included undertaking a survey of what major features/pages the site contained. I then worked with the designers to assign areas of ownership for features, and create a high level plan for the work that needed to be done. Then we dug in with research (competitive research, web analytics, interviews, usability studies, card sorts) as we created lo- and mid-fidelity concepts for user flows, navigation, and page layouts:



Competitive Scans

We conducted dozens of competitive scans and user studies of those products to understand best-in-class experiences and UX approaches.


Web Analytics

We analyzed user flows through the site to determine key areas of opportunity as well as prioritize the features that receive the most traffic.


Card Sorting

The results of a card sort study I used to inform information architecture for the new site.


User testing

Examples of the more than 100 user tests conducted on the redesign.


Guerrilla Testing at Airport

We also conducted guerrilla usability tests at the airport so we could iterate quickly on concepts (cool to see a passenger note it in a tweet!)

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redesigned experiences

Eventually the design was polished enough to move beyond user testing and into the revenue-generating world. Design isn't complete in e-commerce until the data says it meets business goals, and so I opted to A/B test the new experience against the existing one. During A/B testing of the experience, I served as focal to review the data from a design perspective, and hypothesize and propose design solutions to issues that were revealed.

This was the final design and some of its features:


redesigned homepage

The new experience featured geo-targeted hero images to provided local images to dozens of metro areas.

It also featured better ancillary marketing to non-flight products and services (below the fold).


redesigned mobile & tablet experience

The new experience was responsive, with a homepage and navigation that scaled elegantly from a desktop breakpoint all the way down to handheld. 



The design was successfully launched in the spring of 2015. As a result of several optimization efforts through A/B testing the site saw a 2.5% conversion rate increase. It was also accessible for people with visual/motor impairments and responsive for mobile and tablet browsers.

customer feedback

Customer feedback to the redesign was extremely positive. Here are a few samples.


tweets from happy fliers

Beyond the operational data that revealed higher engagement with the site, we also received great impromptu feedback from Alaska fliers.

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My strategic work leading the designers and building the team's ability was an important element of my effort and the most rewarding for me. As part of that effort I created processes and structures to help the team—and the company--grow into a design-first culture. 


“It's fair to say Jerrod was responsible for developing the UX practice within our team, and I got to witness the transformation firsthand."   

- UX Designer, Alaska Airlines