Delta Needs More “Change”

I mentioned last week that Delta was launching their new community site at . Though they didn’t get it up in time for the New York Times article, they did get it live this Monday. What are my thoughts?

Not so great. And that’s a bummer because I really hoped they could have done it right.

There are so many issues with the site that I don’t even know where to start. So, let’s just start at the easiest part. First of all, here’s a screenshot.

Now, what’s wrong with it?

1) They are very heavy on the use of Flash on the site. Flash may look pretty, but it’s a no-no for community sites. Google and other search engines love the constantly refreshed user-generated content that you get on sites like these, but if it’s all in Flash, the search engines can’t see it. Oops.

2) The site is heavily moderated and that’s bad. When sites are moderated too much, people shy away from them. Case in point, I submitted a suggestion on Monday when the site launched. I said “I have an idea for Delta” and recommended that they use RFID tags to track luggage. Though expensive, it could be a great differentiator for them because it could allow customers to get real time updates on the location of their bags on a website. There was nothing bad in my suggestion and nothing mean-spirited at all, yet it still has not made it up on the site.

Either they found something strangely objectionable in my post (not good) or they are just really slow at approving new suggestions (very bad). It’s much more likely to be the latter, because they’ve had the same 36 suggestions up on the site for the last few days and nothing has changed. Nobody is going to come back to the site if suggestions don’t make it on there in a timely manner. You get bored waiting.

3) The suggestions are neither searchable nor categorized. The design is maddening. They only tell you what the suggestions are when you mouseover them, so you can’t even get a comprehensive list of what’s out there. The list is sorted by the star rating as voted on by visitors, but it can’t be re-sorted. It’s very unhelpful. Fortunately, they’re so bad at approving suggestions that there aren’t too many to scroll through now. As I mentioned before, there are only 36 suggestions up there right now and 13 of those were from Delta corporate.

4) It’s hard to share. If you want to send a suggestion to a friend, you can’t just copy a link and send it. You have to use their “send to friend” module. It’s definitely never a good idea to make sharing harder than it should be.

So, not the best effort. Basically, it sounds to me like someone at the airline’s agency heard the word “user generated content” and thought they could just throw something together to make it look like they were going to do something good. This is a very poor effort.

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