What Website Designers Can Learn from a Visit to the Airport

Website design has a lot in common with a trip to your city’s airport. Government regulations, long lines and flight delays aside, the airport experience has one goal: to get passengers to their flight. For businesses outlining their online presence, identifying the singular user goal and then building backwards can help ensure your visitors find their way to “the gate” during their interaction with your site.

Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and other major metropolitan airports feature several terminals dedicated to specific airline providers – these terminals are clearly marked from the moment of arrival to start filtering and funneling passengers to their desired destination. Ecommerce and news websites adopt this navigation practice by separating users and readers: Women, Men, Sports, Business, categories for goods or content.

Once your visitor has arrived, what website design enhancements are you including to create a pleasurable experience? Airports are increasingly improving service and amenity options offer brand-name shopping, a variety of dining options, and even spas and mail services. Website features allow your visitor to interact more deeply with your brand, while not detracting from the ultimate goal. Features like related product or article recommendations and clearly marked navigation serve these functions.

Navigation and Security

While it’s possible to get lost at an airport, ideally you want a website to represent a fast ramp for finding information. A search box or sitemap can help users save time, much like an information booth at an airport. Consider as well that airports provide customers with plenty of artistic ambiance. A website equally needs artistic ambiance to give visitors visual things to remember and discuss with others. Colorful vibrant photos, videos, graphics or infographics that complement well written content can help your website become an attractive online destination.

Fortunately, shopping online doesn’t require up to two hours to get through security. Like an airport, however, your website design does need appropriate security checkpoints to ensure secure transactions. Funnel your customers through the checkout process as seamlessly as possible, while offering clear prompts. Like an airport that offers kiosk or attendant check-in, give your customers options of convenience – especially those who are returning.

Is Your Website a “Hub?”

The greater number of flights and connections, the more valuable the airport to its users. Likewise, your website can increase its service value by offering deep connections with other websites. Inbound and outbound links provide value to your information-seeking visitors and serve as an endorsement of the quality of content on your site in raising your visibility in search engine results. Ecommerce businesses that are unsure how to utilize inbound and outbound links should consider a frequently updated blog or opportunities for reader and customers to comment or leave reviews.

While security and regulations have increased the stress-factor associated with airport, website designers can look to the overall user interaction at the airport to help create a successful website experience for a client’s target visitor.


Katie Sweeney is a freelance copywriter for Philadelphia website design firm, Delphic Digital. She enjoys observing connections in the world around her.

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