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A conspiracy of brand and design

Designers love to work in comfort zones — we create designs with pretty things; hand pick the best stock photos, use nice crisp titles and precisely craft copy. No matter how gratifying this design process is, it’s a recipe for disappointment because things in the real-world never fit the design prototype to a T.

Today’s story is worth sharing.

Designing the display for flights is tricky because every design has to accommodate the display of a lot of flight metadata in search results and itinerary details. Some data points such as price, time and date of travel are easier to design since their formats are fixed and the number of characters doesn’t change much. Airport names and airline names, however, vary significantly in character length. And no matter how long or short, these strings need to be accommodated by the design.

To prevent our design from breaking down later on, we prototype using the longest possible names we know. On Cleartrip Mobile, this proved especially tricky and we managed with just a few pixels to spare. Jet Airways Konnect, the longest airline name in India, has always been the acid test when optimising our search results and itinerary views on mobile.

Here’s what it looks like:

As you can see, it looks pretty bulky compared to the other airlines. Since this data comes from an internal web-service shared by other Cleartrip products, using a shorter name would have required hard-coding logic on the UI which is a maintenance pain. Truncation was not an option beacuse it would be confused with Jet Airways, their full service carrier. With a few trade-offs we were able to make enough room for a name that long but we always wished Jet Airways Konnect looked as neat as the rest of the airlines.

What we never imagined in a million years was that the airline would solve this design problem for us:

As part of a strategic rebranding exercise, Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline, will consolidate its low fare service products under the JetKonnect brand to simplify the group’s service proposition and enhance brand recall. Thus, effective March 25, the erstwhile JetLite and Jet Airways Konnect services will operate under the JetKonnect brand.

A glimpse of their new aircraft:

How often does it happen that someone else’s brand conspires with your design to make it better?