Tourism website

Objective:

Design an engaging tourism website that allows visitors to easily explore the recreational activities, accommodations, events, restaurants and other family friendly activities available in the Land of Waterfalls.

Key challenges:

  1. Design an information architecture for the tourist's POV
  2. Design a custom interactive database for hotels and events
  3. Convince the client of the value of custom photography

The process:

  1. Information architecture
  2. Designing and testing interactive functionality
  3. Beautiful art direction
  4. Design and testing
  5. Train users
  6. Launch website

My roles:
Information architect, web and user interface designer, art director, project manager


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1. Information architecture

We inherited a huge amount of disorganized content from the client, and my task in creating the information architecture was to put myself in the shoes of a prospective tourist trying to decide if the Land of Waterfalls would be a good place for a family vacation.

Thanks to demographics information provided by the Tourism Development Authority, we were able to pinpoint our target audience. I used this persona to inform the content strategy from a mother's point of view, planning a fun vacation for her family of four.


2. Designing and Testing Interactive Functionality

I needed to design a custom interactive database to allow local hotels and vacation rentals to upload information, and a search widget for website visitors to find lodging.

In order to ensure that the final product was as user-friendly as possible, I employed Wufoo to create prototypes of the forms I needed.

Then, I tested the forms on my coworkers and our clients, made adjustments as necessary, and provided these prototypes to our programmer so he could recreate them on our platform.

 Above: visitor-facing form prototype

Above: visitor-facing form prototype

  Above: member-facing form prototype (abbreviated)

Above: member-facing form prototype (abbreviated)


3. Beautiful photo art direction

Maybe great photography doesn't immediately come to mind when you think of user experience, but vacationers want to be able to imagine themselves having the time of their life when investigating where to visit.

That's why we felt it was important to ask our client very nicely and very emphatically to stretch their budget and let us shoot some amazing new photos for them. (You should have seen the tears in their eyes when they saw the photos!)

The client eventually agreed, but our budget was tight, so my creative director tasked me with finding a photographer who could capture the Land of Waterfalls' beauty and not break the budget. 

  1. Hire an exceptionally talented wedding photographer with aspirations to move into commercial photography.
  2. Recruit "models" (good-looking, fun-loving locals) willing to work on a pro-bono basis.
  3. Direct a photo shoot spanning two 12-hour days, covering waterfalls, hiking and biking paths, restaurants, galleries, music venues, campgrounds, and more.

4. Design and testing

This special place deserved a brand image to set it apart. I used an evocative Arts & Crafts-style typeface with a warm and earthy color palette that paired well with the photography.

The testing for this website focused on browser compatibility and usability of the database system for the representatives of the accommodations, entertainment venues and community centers who would be entering information about their properties and events.


5. User training

Our custom database required custom training and documentation to ensure users could function independently without too much support.

To the right is a help document that was provided after training.

 

6. Launch website

The website, conceived and built in 2009, remained online for 5 years until it was replaced in 2014 by an updated model better optimized for modern mobile devices.

The client is now a national player in the tourism market, recognized by media outlets including Bike Magazine, the Weather Channel, the New York Times, and more.