Senior Director of UX Design, AOL Mail
Bill Wetherell is Senior Director of UX Design for AOL Mail. In past lives he’s led design teams at TechTV, the Walt Disney Internet Group, and Infoseek. And way before all that, he studied film at San Francisco State University – which is why he often talks in film metaphors and loves disaster movies.
The Zealots Who Built Alto
Click here to view Bill’s slides.
In the fall of 2012 AOL launched the private beta of Alto – a re-imagining of the inbox for today’s modern world. This is the behind-the-scenes story of how Alto came to be inside the 25-year-old internet company. It’s far from a rosy picture, but it does hold inspiration and cautionary tales around giving flight to big ideas. How do you take a commodity product like email (whose death is heralded daily in the press) and create something unique and useful? And how do you do all that in the face of so many negative perceptions around the AOL brand? You’ll see how in-home visits inspired Alto’s design, sometimes helped sell the product throughout the organization, and other times were flat out ignored by execs. You’ll see previous iterations, learn why they failed and how they were harvested for the ideas that ultimately created Alto. You’ll hear how a rogue team of long-time mail veterans worked across disciplines and managed to take a risky product to market in the face of internal forces and organizational headwinds – because if we can do it, maybe you can too!