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A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on an airplane flying back from Dallas-Fort Worth and I looked up and saw that the “No Smoking” sign had been turned on. I chuckled to myself, thinking about what people would do if someone lit up a cigarette on a airplane. This prompted me to look around the airplane and take note of the different areas of the airplane. To my surprise, there had been little apparent changes to air travel since I took my first flight at age 7. In nearly 30 years! 30!

So why? Why haven’t there been any changes to the design of the airplane for public transit? We have self-driving cars, smart devices everywhere, I can even order Taco Bell online. Where are the flying cars I was promised as a kid, or the teleportation devices? Okay. Maybe that’s a bit too far. But seriously, why has the airplane remained unchanged for the most part? Sure, we got rid of in-flight phones and we added video monitors in the headrests, but I’m still crammed in like sardine praying that someone can’t meet the requirements of sitting in the exit row. I’m 6’3” and its mostly in the legs. I’m no aviation expert and I definitely know very little when it comes to what makes an airplane fly, but I am a problem solver. Why don’t they hire some user experience folks to come in and help? All that to say, there are areas of air travel that I think need to be improved and how I think they should do it.

Your seat may be used as a flotation device

In all my years of flying, there have been very few trips where I was over a large body of water for very long. I always get a kick out of the announcement that I can use my seat as a floatation device when I’ve flown over the Arizona desert. Why can’t my seat be used as a parachute? If the airplane is going down, why doesn’t the pilot hit a button and roof the airplane rips off and everyone ejects into the air. I feel I have a better chance with a parachute than wearing floaties.

Snacks? Where are the snacks?

I’m not asking for a four-course meal here, but how about something more than crackers or worse pretzels/peanuts. More to the point, why are there even carts anymore? Why not a dispensing machine that brings it right to your seat. Each seat gets say 2 credits for purchasing snacks. Need more snacks? Great! Just swipe your card and get more delivered. Sure beats the elbow torture that I have to endure.

We aren’t all same shape and size

I mentioned above, I’m 6’3”. My wife is 5’2”. My legs feel cramped, while her feet just dangle. So why not create seats that are adjustable. Raise my seat and lower hers. Doesn’t seem that this would take a lot of engineering. In our minivan, seats can collapse into the floor; why not apply the same logic. Then on the pesky red-eye flights, when there is an extra seat between you and someone else? This at least provides a feeling of more space.

Why does all storage need to be above me?

Speaking of collapsing seats in my minivan; if the seats aren’t collapsed you can use the storage for packing. In-floor storage makes a lot more sense than lugging 45lbs over your head. Then when you stand up, you can actually stand up.

Seat-belts are for wusses

Why is that when I ride a roller-coaster, I get strapped in with multiple belts and locks, but an on an airplane I only get a lap belt. A lap belt. This is what is supposed to protect me when going 500mph?

Airplane Website Navigation

There is always room for improvement on any product. Even our own. Sometimes though you have to step out of the “business model” and step into “consumer mode”. What do you your customers need from your website? From your product? From you? I hear from clients so often that they aren’t satisfied with the results they are getting, but there isn’t anything they need to change or update. Both can’t be true. When was the last time you asked your customers what they think? I’m not talking about your friends and family. I’m talking about REAL customers.

Not sure where to start? Here some areas that you might want to look at:

Can people find what they need quickly? If it takes them too much time to find the answers or information they need; they will likely get frustrated and leave. Take your current navigation and see if you can reduce the menu down to 5-7 items. Use micro-interactions and calls to action throughout the site to improve functionality.

It’s not pretty

Let’s face it, we live in a visual world. And if your site isn’t visually appealing or is too jam-packed with verbiage it can make a user feel lost. SIMPLIFY. Cut unnecessary text. Create videos/infographics to explain complex ideas. Find ways to make it easy and pretty.

Why am I here?

In every client website meeting I ask, “Why should someone visit your website AND why should they come back?” It is amazing to me the number of people who can’t answer one or both of those questions. Give people a reason to engage with you, buy from you, and keep coming back.

Why do I need an email list?

I honestly don’t care what service you use, but I am a big fan of MailChimp for several reasons. But if you aren’t creating an email list and connecting with your audience then you are missing it. Building an email list is essential to generating more business and getting more sales.

So the next time you are stuck on a long flight you might want to take some time to consider ways to improve your business or product. After all, it will get you better results than the pretzels. What did I miss? Comment below.

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