Thredbo Accommodation Reservations (thredbo.com) is to be the flagship site for a group of businesses selling holiday rental properties in the Thredbo Mountain region. This site was eventually to be the blueprint for all of the other group sites so we had to be sure that we got all the details right from the start. I was solely responsible for all aspects of the research, planning and design on this project.
Analytic & User Research
The company collects a large amount of data on their users both with site usage analytics and data entered directly by users in online forms/surveys.
I conducted in-depth analytics research, user research of current site and several other sites in the same group. The aim of this research was to establish some background of who the users were, to find any demographic patterns, and how they used the site.
The analytic data combined with some previous customer feedback also gave us a valuable insight into what users found frustrating about the way the existing site was set up.
Creating User Personas & Stories
With the data collated I was able to create user personas. These personas are not actual users, rather imagined users made up using “typical” characteristics found during the user research. Creating these personas helps to focus design for a specific somebody, rather than a generic everybody. It can be useful to think, “Would Naomi find this feature useful?” or; “Would Alan be able to find this link if it is placed here?”
With user personas in place I was then able to create a journey map tracking the steps that each personas would take whilst booking a ski holiday. Identifying the possible positive and negative factors at each step will guide the design and development of the site.
Planning: Information Architecture & Wireframes
I created a very basic information architecture diagram showing how the pages connected together. This type of diagram makes it easier to visualise the users path through the site and ensure that no pages or links are forgotten. I have also found that IA diagrams are useful tools when explaining site set-up or layout to developers or clients.
The next step was to build the wireframes to further define the information hierarchy of the design make it it easier to plan the layout according to how we want the user to process the information.
Designing the Graphic Elements
The site, and business as a whole, was in need of a new logo. So I decided to start with that. I find that business logos and other branding materials can be very useful for suggesting a theme or “vibe” for a Website. The client already had a black, red and white colour scheme in mind so I just had to tweak it a bit to make the scheme more cohesive.
I created several style tiles showing variations of typography and colour schemes along with patterns and major graphic elements such as buttons. The scheme that was approved is shown below. With the scheme approved I created the major graphic elements including buttons, background overlays, listing and overview API elements (shown below).
Once these elements were created I moved onto the desktop Website design followed by the mobile versions. I was required to design the versions as separate entities rather than a responsive design because the Genkan booking manager software hadn’t been updated to be responsive. Instead, a stand-alone mobile version of the booking manager had been developed and the sites used an “www.m.” URL.
The business already has a number of HTML emails in place, confirming bookings, requesting extra information etc. I redesigned these emails to fit into the new branding and developed several more for specials etc. I also designed an online customer review form to ensure that the company is able continue collecting relevant user data and update/upgrade/change when/if required.