How We Crafted a User-first Microsite for the Indianapolis Airport

An app-like experience for on-the-go people

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Spencer Dell

Airports are often simply a means to an end. Travelers want to get through as quickly and efficiently as possible so they can make it to that sun soaked beach or key business meeting. Typical airports have long lines at security, lost bags, expansive parking lots and paper towel-ridden bathroom sinks, but the Indianapolis International Airport is different. The five-time winner of the ACI Airport Service Quality North American Airport of the Year award, the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) came to us with the challenge of revamping their key areas of their full website in a revised microsite to mimic their world-class airport experience.  And they needed this microsite up in just 45 days!

Easier said than done.

The old IAA website seemed riddled with hard-to-find content. Parking and flight status information, for example, didn't seem to take priority over the rest of the site's content, leaving users shaking with the turbulence. The overwhelming amount of copy along with a lack of engaging imagery also made the user interface a daunting meal to digest. A snake's unhinged jaw would've had a tough time consuming so much information. Further, the old website wasn't conducive to web accessibility standards, the principles that make it easier for people with disabilities to access and interact with a website's information and functionality.

Our challenge hinged on making tons of content easily accessible while calling out the main information IAA customers searched for most: flight statuses, parking information and the weather in Indianapolis. 

(Here's a glimpse at the "Before" and "After.") 


Before redesign — cluttered information; not mobile-friendly
Before redesign — cluttered information; not mobile-friendly
After redesign — easily accessible content; responsive; parallax scrolling
After redesign — easily accessible content; responsive; parallax scrolling
"As a native of Colorado, I wanted to capture a modern, sleek design that matched the look and feel of the airport’s architecture along with its ease of access. Every time I visit the airport in Indy, that sleek architecture really stands out to me." – Daniel Luke

To help us meet our goals, we focused our time understanding questions surrounding user intent. 

  • Why do people visit IAA's website? 
  • What are they looking for? 
  • What is their path while they're on the site?

Our subsequent design solved those questions. Site visitors can see all vital information above the fold, and the resulting app-like design, especially in a mobile view, creates smooth, simple interactions with the flight status, parking and weather modules. Additionally, we moved the rest of the content that seemed to clutter a user's vision into an categorized, easy-to-navigate dropdown menu.

Navigation closed
Navigation closed
Navigation on click
Navigation on click
"I liked the idea of having a Denver designer and developer on the project because we are the ones who are out of state and experiencing Indy for the first time. My biggest challenge as a developer was to decide how we would continuously update the parking and flight status modules—they're constantly changing from one second to the next, so we decided on a 60-second interval for automated updates." – Kelly Bleck

In terms of creating a more interactive ambience, our design and development team suggested a slight parallax effect upon scroll. Even that small adjustment in movement enhanced the sleek look we hoped to achieve. 

Still, one of the most intriguing parts of the project was incorporating our Denver team to handle design and development, instead of our local team. In this case, our Denver team had a unique perspective that captured the essence of what many passengers feel when flying; they land at the Indianapolis International Airport—in an unfamiliar city away from home—and they truly observe their new surroundings, taking in what the airport has to offer. 

Both Daniel Luke (designer) and Kelly Bleck (developer) addressed the distinct challenges they faced in their positions. Say what you will about the stereotypically rugged Denver folk with their beards, outdoor sports and hacky sack in the park, but these two rock when it comes to building websites.

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