Dustin Curtis is a UI designer. He was fed up with how hard it was to book travel on American Airlines' AA.com Web site. So last May, instead of complaining, he sent them a better UI design. That led to an interesting interaction with a member of the team involved in the design of the AA.com Web site.
Dustin refers to his correspondent as "Mr. X" and claims that he is, in fact, and excellent UI architect and that his identity will be revealed soon.
Here's an excerpt from the response Dustin received from "Mr. X", then a member of the design team at AA.com, who was, by the way, summarily fired as soon as this response became public last Spring:
"The problem with the design of AA.com, however, lies less in our competency (or lack thereof, as you pointed out in your post) and more with the culture and processes employed here at American Airlines.
Let me explain. The group running AA.com consists of at least 200 people spread out amongst many different groups, including, for example, QA, product planning, business analysis, code development, site operations, project planning, and user experience. We have a lot of people touching the site, and a lot more with their own vested interests in how the site presents its content and functionality. Fortunately, much of the public-facing functionality is funneled through UX, so any new features you see on the site should have been vetted through and designed by us before going public.
However, there are large exceptions. For example, our Interactive Marketing group designs and implements fare sales and specials (and doesn’t go through us to do it), and the Publishing group pushes content without much interaction with us… Oh, and don’t forget the AAdvantage team (which for some reason, runs its own little corner of the site) or the international sites (which have a lot of autonomy in how their domains are run)… Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that AA.com is a huge corporate undertaking with a lot of tentacles that reach into a lot of interests. It’s not small, by any means.