When first landing on a site, like most people, I scan and skim the page for important and relevant information that will help me decide whether I’m in the right place or I need to do another search. In SAS’s case, there’s no copy on the homepage that’s even remotely engaging. Instead, I’m immediately drawn to the gold orb at the top banner*. I don’t have a clue what it is, but it sure caught my attention.
Now, here’s where I embarrass myself a bit. Our European readers may laugh — or at least think I’m not very cosmopolitan — but I didn’t realize that SAS was actually Scandinavian Airlines. It’s not a logo I see very often and, in fact, the homepage looks so bland, gray and corporate that, at first, I didn’t even realize they were an airline!
FlySAS.com may as well be in a foreign language, as it easily fails the 4-second test.
Finally, after squinting my eyes and scanning the page a bit longer, I see that “Scandinavian Airlines” is written in microscopic font underneath the “SAS” in the top-left corner. This is unacceptable because, believe it or not, there are uncultured people like me everywhere who’ve never flown SAS.
So, aside from its boring look and feel — which evokes Windows 95 far more than it does an airline — the site lacks a Unique Value Proposition. Nowhere does it concisely explain what it is they do, or why they should bother flying with them.
Frustrations abound. In addition to the site logo hiding the only mention of the company name, the font in the left navigation is too small, there’s virtually no space between links, and — once again — I have to strain to read it. What’s worse is that there’s no copy in the active window (read: center) to direct my next click.
This site makes it extremely difficult for visitors at the early and middle stages of their buying process (i.e., those who need still need to be persuaded to book a flight with SAS).
When I attempted to book a flight, things got really ugly. (Apparently this is what they want me to do, as the booking agent takes up the entire active window of the homepage.) I played around with the drop-down navigation and, sure enough, only one of the fields works(!) In fact, the only field on the entire form that’s necessary is “Select Country”. Once a country is selected, the entire form changes. (Seriously, try it for yourself.)
A few more questions here: Am I choosing the country based on where I live? Are they asking where I want to go?
I continued on SAS’s tour-from-a-blind-and-mute-guide and figured I should select “USA” in the “Select Country” drop-down as my default. Wait, what’s “USA/Canada”? Is there something I should know? Is that good news for our exchange rate at this point? Now I’m really frustrated. I wish there were at least a prominent customer service contact so I could call or email someone for help.
Forget it. I guess I’m not that patient. I’ll just go over to Priceline.com and hope for the best.
[*The "gold orb" seems to have been replaced by a sunflower, which also grabs the eye toward what's usually considered banner ad territory.]