Your Freedom to Fly

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), is an advocacy group and association that represents the largest aviation community in the world. Its membership consists of over 500,000 pilots and spans over 75 countries.

Quick Facts

AOPA site devices screenshots

About The project

For over 80 years, AOPA has advocated for the needs of pilots and provided valuable resources and services to ensure a strong flying community. AOPA’s endeavors include a publishing house, news outlet, political action committee, foundation, and a volunteer-run local airport network that spans all 50 states. is a large website with vast amounts of content, including innumerable videos, flight planning tools, login areas and more. There is also a variety of third-party integrations throughout the platform. Velir was charged with reimagining the information architecture and user experience to delight visitors.

Transitioning the website into a responsive web design was a significant effort, and involved transitioning large sets of AOPA’s content to match the new responsive format. AOPA also has disparate audiences (including members, non-members, experienced pilots, newly certified pilots, and students in training) that it reaches and connects with through its website. The newly built site now has the ability to offer custom messages to all of its audiences including members and non-members, empowering AOPA to deliver more engaging web experiences.

Project Goals

AOPA’s flagship site and its many subdomains are its primary means of disseminating information and resources to member audiences (which consists of over 500,000 pilots and spans 75 countries). In 2014, AOPA was facing issues with declining membership rates and outlined a set of project goals including:

  • Revitalizing its brand to improve engagement with existing members, as well as attract new and youthful members without alienating current ones
  • Consolidating the different sites (on various platforms including Sitecore and Cold Fusion) within their web solution to improve the authoring experience and ease of maintenance
  • Improving the site’s navigation, searchability, and interactive elements (links, commenting, tools, etc.) as they were points of frustration for AOPA’s different audiences (indicated by surveys)
The Solution

AOPA engaged with Velir to take on the refresh of its entire web presence, which included end-to-end services from digital strategy discovery and definition to creative design and solution architecture, and finally, the implementation of the solution.

AOPA decided to rebrand (logo, color palette, voice, fonts, and overall look and feel) to modernize its image and aimed to refresh its site accordingly. A key part of AOPA’s strategy and the sites’ UX and design was to increase engagement by delivering a personalized experience. Detailed segments and personas were defined as a part of this effort to better understand AOPA’s target audiences, what information they might need, and the best channels to reach them on. The team also conducted an inventory of all content and looked at user tasks by ‘The Pilot Lifecycle’ – from training to experienced pilot – to identify any gaps in the content that would need to be delivered.

The site’s flight planning tool, a critical aspect of the site and another point of dissatisfaction with users, was greatly improved to deliver a much more functional experience. Users can now enter their trip dates and flight plan and will be provided with information that is relevant to their trip, including warnings based on weather conditions and any prerequisites (certifications, licenses, etc.). The solution also supports a media gallery with high-quality imagery and video to increase engagement, especially amongst younger audiences.

The improved navigability, along with a new search function and custom filtering tools allow site visitors to discover desired content quickly, which was identified as a key shortcoming with the previous site. In addition to improving the experience for AOPA’s external customers (current and prospective members), the new solution has improved the authoring experience and AOPA’s time-to-market, a critical need as they continue to expand their digital ecosystem. The project took about 10 months to complete and involved blended client and agency partner teams in every phase of the project.

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