A Tale of Two Great Hotels…
Responsive Design & Effortless User Experience
In mid-2013, Classic Hotels & iiWorks kicked off the redesign & responsive website build of two hotels: The Inn at Laguna Beach & LaPlaya Carmel by the Sea. The Classic Team place the customer at the very heart of every strategic decision & that’s a philosophy we share.
The client needed us to help them target an evolving, mobile traveller & deliver a self-centric, functionally seamless experience that optimised their online presence, both now & into the future.
The brief laid bare several key yields:
- Bold, innovative design & UCD methodology
- Performance priority
- Increased bookings
- Improved SEO
- Responsive 3 screen presence
- Target/attract desired demographic
- Increase new & returning visits
- Increase Meeting RFPs & enquiries
- Imagery as key feature – 1 touch gallery
- Highlight the location
- WCAG AA compliance
- Content parity
- Boutique experience
- Descriptive, concise content
- Build an opt-in database
- Future friendly
Gain a complete understanding of the customer’s latent interaction needs, context of use & organisational requirements.
Upfront research efforts are far too often lost in the angst to launch a website. Ironically, it’s this very effort that produces the crucial insights allowing the strategy, design & development teams to hone, refine & validate the most effective conversion strategies & tactics available within our arsenal. It’s what separates the great from the mediocre.
First, we interviewed staff at all levels & undertook segmented behavioural & industry research, then dove head first into analysing historical data using a blend of Google Analytics, competitor & SWOT analysis. Next we produced mind maps & personas for prototype, use case & navigational testing.
The outcome of our research provided us with a wealth of information. We learned that while customers are sensitive to price and promotions, the path to conversion takes into account social recommendations, mobile tools and video/photos. Armed with this & a whole lot more, we produced two wireframe prototypes which underwent a further 11 iterations of exhaustive assessment testing.
Two weeks of pouring a solid foundation enabled us to envision innovative methods that served to support a savvy customer by way of clever usability interaction & test the most technically & economically optimal solution.
A tangible strategy we settled upon was the introduction of a modest parallax element to invoke interest, emotion & ensure the property imagery was always at a point of convergence. A vital decision was the ruthless paring back of the navigation to the very barest of elements – only that which the customer needed & wanted to support their research, decision & purchase processes was permitted.
We presented all this information on the Home Page as a long navigational anchor based scroll with an ever-accessible fixed menu. With the support of the Google Map API, we crafted a Location Tool to highlight local conveniences that were important to customers & we integrated this with Yelp and smartphone GPS directions. We knew customers were influenced by social recommendation so TripAdvisor reviews were awarded a prominent position on every page.
The end result was a threefold solution drawn together by:
- What is desirable for the customer
- What is technically optimal
- What is viable for business
New & returning traffic has nearly tripled with fourfold conversions boosted both by mobile & social, which influences a third of all transactions. Responsive design supports the overall lift in the number of users accessing the websites via mobile & the both sites enjoy a page 1 ranking with the majority of selected keywords. Engagement rates are on the rise & The Inn at Laguna Beach was successfully nominated by both Awwwards and the FWA.
We think it’s safe to say that Classic Hotels has found a ‘sweet spot’ in their new online presence. And we couldn’t be happier for them.