Arthur Chapin, Ex­pe­dia

Arthur Chapin, SVP of Global Prod­uct and De­sign, Ex­pe­dia

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Alvin Soon

Your ti­tle is SVP of Global Prod­uct and De­sign. So what does that job cover?

It’s sort of the in­ter­sec­tion of de­sign­ing, build­ing and sell­ing. From a de­sign stand­point we have a team of about 100 de­sign­ers that have sev­eral dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, so we have the re­search dis­ci­pline, and then we have vis­ual de­sign­ers, in­ter­ac­tion de­sign­ers and cre­ative de­sign­ers.

That gives us a pretty broad team that does ev­ery­thing from de­ter­min­ing the lay­out of the pages, to what’s on the pages and drives a lot of the stan­dards on how the Ex­pe­dia brand looks and feels.

Was there a day when you re­al­ized that de­sign could play an im­por­tant part in the prod­uct?

I think from day one. It comes back to my love of mo­tor­cy­cles. Mo­tor­cy­cles are de­sign, right? And what I like about mo­tor­cy­cles is that they’re such a pure sort of form. It’s func­tional beauty, and I be­lieve in that con­cept for web­sites or any con­sumer prod­uct.

De­sign needs to make sure you move for­ward both in the func­tion­al­ity and in ac­com­plish­ing the mis­sion, but do­ing it in a way that is seam­less and easy.

Was there day when a ma­jor or mi­nor de­sign de­ci­sion re­ally im­pacted Ex­pe­dia’s busi­ness?

Oh, ev­ery day. We nd that of­ten the most im­pact­ful tests we run are very de­sign-re­lated tests. De­sign can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a suc­cess­ful and an un­suc­cess­ful prod­uct.

Let’s use a sim­ple ex­am­ple. If we cre­ate a new fea­ture that re­quires click­ing on a but­ton, and we don’t de­sign and val­i­date through re­search that it’s dis­cov­er­able, the fea­ture may fail. Not be­cause the fea­ture’s bad. The fea­ture may fail be­cause it wasn’t used, be­cause it wasn’t dis­cov­ered. So we nd, all the time, that small de­sign changes can have big im­pacts in the per­for­mance or use of a specic prod­uct.

It sounds like you’re a big believer in test­ing de­sign.

Yeah, that’s right. We want to val­i­date and make sure that the de­signs we choose are de­signs that work for our cus­tomers. De­sign is a com­plex art and sci­ence. So there’re many dif­fer­ent things that need to be taken into ac­count when you’re look­ing at vis­ual beauty, us­abil­ity and in­ter­ac­tion beauty — func­tional beauty, essen­tially.

So what’s the de­sign test­ing process like at Ex­pe­dia?

I’m go­ing to give you three dif­fer­ent types of test­ing we do, and this is by no means in­clu­sive. So the rst is what we call ethno­graphic re­search. And it’s un­der­stand­ing the prob­lems that our cus­tomers face when try­ing to travel and then look­ing for ways to solve them.

Then you have specic types of val­i­da­tion of prod­ucts or con­cepts, and that’s when we’ll start to use some of th­ese fea­tures like eye track­ing. That’s the sec­ond kind of test­ing that we do.

The third kind of test­ing that we do is ac­tu­ally test­ing on our web­site, and we like to think about it as let­ting our cus­tomers vote for the best ex­pe­ri­ence they’d like to have. So we try and test ev­ery sin­gle change that we put out, and we do it through­out the prod­uct de­sign process.

“What I like about mo­tor­cy­cles is that they’re such a pure sort of form. It’s func­tional beauty, and I be­lieve in that con­cept for web­sites or any con­sumer prod­uct.”

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