The SpoolCast with Jared Spool

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Episode #96 Care and Feeding the Corporate Cash Cow with Ken Kellogg

March 29, 2010  ·  32 minutes

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Ken Kellogg, the Director of User Research at Marriott International, sits down with Jared Spool to discuss the process of design and research that lay beneath a web site that generated $6.5 billion in revenues in 2009.

Show Notes

There's plenty of pressure on web designers to groom the corporate website. You have the politics of keeping stakeholders happy and the responsibility of rolling out improvements that don't decrease revenues. But what if your website was responsible for $6.5 Billion of revenue last year?

Such is the life of Ken Kellogg, the Director of User Research at Marriott International. Ken leads the user research team that is responsible for the experience 12 million people a month have at Marriott.com. The first day on the job, Ken received the first directive: Do No Harm.

In this podcast, Ken discusses with Jared Spool how he:

  • Navigates the design process from within a large corporate world
  • Partners with his executives to gain access to the most useful tools
  • Keeps the site moving forward with a lot of customer research.

Ken starts by telling us the genesis of the current redesign project at Marriott:

Our research kept telling us that we might be missing out on a key segment—and those are folks that are a personal traveler, a leisure traveler. Of course, a business traveler can be a leisure traveler anytime. But, we're really thinking about folks that don't normally travel for business, or a spouse of a frequent business traveler who wants to plan a vacation.

What we were seeing over and over was these folks would come to Marriott.com and they'd get lost. One of the old rules about usability is you never get two chances to make the first impression. If someone gets lost, they will go some place else, that is still the truth. Everything kind of started from those two facts.

The needs of their main customer, the business traveler, are somewhat different from the leisure traveler. They had to find a way to cater to this group without alienating their bread-and-butter demographic.

…one of the first things that you're indoctrinated with when you start working in e-commerce at Marriott is that you do no harm. It's the Hippocratic Oath. You do not hurt the frequent business traveler. So, we have painstakingly done our best to make sure that we don't put any stumbling blocks or any delays in the paths of our frequent business traveler.