Designing a more useful trip suggestion

Designing a more useful trip suggestion

State tourism sites contain A LOT of information. This site already had a few trip ideas on it, but they weren’t seen as very useful in helping people sort through that content or inspire them. My goal was rethinking what a ‘trip idea’ should be to make it more useful to more people.

The Basics

The client, a state tourism organization, needs to promote visitation to their location. Our agency has been working with them on that for several years and several iterations of their site.

The client’s site has a wealth of information about vacationing in their state. But with thousands of business listings, activities, and places to visit, it can be overwhelming, especially, we had found, for first-time visitors. The client had been creating a limited set of ‘trip ideas’ to help guide people. They asked us how to improve these with the goal of this section acting as the ‘how to’ on vacationing there.

My Contributions

Research & Discovery
  • Synthesizing primary and secondary research on vacation planning.
  • Client and competitor audits
  • Presenting findings and suggestions to the client team
Journey Mapping and Idea Generation
  • Two user journeys: a vacation planner and an on-vacation user
  • Brainstorming sprints to find possible solutions to the deficits we found
  • Content planning strategy for the team that would be responsible for coming up with future pages.
Wireframes and Writing Samples
  • Wireframe for the new story flow and functionality as well as for the portion of the site these pages exist in
  • Detailed options for different story types
  • Multiple, fully written itineraries, which included research into the suggested topics
The Process

Research and Discovery

I gathered secondary research on the trip planning process to augment the data that our agency’s insights and planning team already provided. I also had several years of experience working on this client’s site and in the tourism industry in general.

These two slides were taken from a presentation I gave to the client.

The Process

Competitive Audits

I audited several state tourism competitors and another site known for its itineraries. These audits looked at: story format, interesting content examples, organization, sorting/filtering, and mobile experience. I pulled both positive and negative takeaways from these.

These pages were pulled from the full audit document.

The Process

Journey Mapping

People at each step of the process have different needs. Keeping this in mind, I created a journey map for two users. This included an audit of the existing trip ideas for each of them.

The two personas were: someone starting to think about vacation and someone already in-market looking for something to do. While I expected overlap in the last stage of the journey, I suspected there may be differences for someone who doesn’t have familiarity with the site.

The second journey only looked at the last step, ‘in-destination’. This second user was also described has not having prior familiarity with the site. Looking at the existing content through this lens did reveal several improvements that were not considered during the first audit.

The Process

Ideation and Prioritization

The journey maps and audits reveal several vulnerabilities and opportunities in the existing content. I held brainstorming sessions to come up with possible improvements in different areas. These ideas were organized by general type and prioritized with the client by feasibility and payoff.

The general groupings that we used were: strategy, content subject matter, utilatarian content ideas, site functionality, sorting & filtering, and ways to expose more people to the content.

The Process

Designing based on our research

I first incorporated our new ideas into a redesign of two existing trip ideas. We wanted to show the client how the existing content could be used without completely starting over. I started out with word docs and moved to lo-fi wireframes in order to show visual context and start to shape the page.

I greatly expanded on details and prose for the suggested activities. Both the mobile and desktop version wireframes contained copious notes on why each piece of content was included.

After we established our new direction using the existing one-day trip ideas, I wrote two new, longer itineraries using content suggestions from the client.

The client gave us the general outline of a 3-day trip, with many suggestions for each day. I took those and did a lot of background research in order to give some context to the suggestions. I put both into the new format, as word docs for our writer and as wireframes for our designer.

The Process

Redesigning the container & Taxonomy

The existing trip ideas were grouped solely by one topic each in their section of the website. I felt this limited how well we would be able to promote the new content and that the new posts were too expansive to turn into one thing. So, the project expanded to include a redesign of that page and the taxonomy system they were using.

The End?

Handing it off

I worked closely with our writer and art director after establishing the new content and wireframes. Our writer took the itineraries that I wrote and polished them into the brand’s voice. Our art director and I went over the wires as she gave them a fantastic new look that heightened the ideas in them.

The client and our agency are still creating new trips ideas following this model. Traffic to this section of the site continues to grow.

In addition to the fully written examples and wireframes, I also provided strategy on generating future additions to the site. These slides were pulled from a presentation I gave to the client.

Thanks for taking the time to get all the way down here.

Want to talk about this project and maybe get into the weeds about it?

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