Visit California has revamped its website to reflect the modern traveller. The new website is visually driven - offering a more immersive experience - and is mobile focused to reflect the growing number of travellers who use mobile devices, reports Travel Pulse.
The website overhaul comes nine years after VisitCalifornia.com was first launched back in 2006 and forms part of the destination's "Dream Big" marketing platform.
The brand new site focuses on the experiential rather than being purely informational. Instead of being editorially driven, it's visually driven; and rather than offering an exhaustive viewing experience, it's curated and contextual – so the user can totally immerse in the experience. Unlike the earlier version, the site doesn't just direct the user from Point A to Point B. The new site is flexible and receptive to a user's browsing preferences.
Now, Visit California has a mobile focused website that will meet the needs of an increasingly mobile population.
Research has informed the design of the new site. Visit California turned to external research firms to find out what today's travellers want – they were asked to rate certain website features on a sliding scale of "boring to inspirational" and "frustrating to usable."
The study revealed that for modern travellers, social media presence is an absolute necessity (it was previously believed to be important, but not critical). And even more interestingly, the search function on a website was found to be less of a must-have for younger generations than you may imagine. Younger generations are more likely to head straight for the photos and visual maps before pulling up the search bar.
Visually, the website aims to 'draw in' the traveller. Lynn Carpenter, vice president of marketing at Visit California, who gave the media the first glimpse of the new website last week, said the focus on visuals is "probably the single most important feature". She used used words like "inspire" and "dream" to describe the kind of experience they hoped to achieve.
The website is based on three main themes, said Carpenter: story ideas, photos and events. Vibrant photos and video on the site aim to not only drive wanderlust, but also to drive experiences. Regional maps help to generate story ideas and travel ideas with suggested trips and trip stops such as "Highway One Classic."
In response to the preference of younger generations for a simpler interface, which was also indicated in the research, pages are not overloaded with information; instead the user is given the option to dive deeper in separate pages within its regional section.
Ultimately, the main objective of the site is to guide the traveller through four stages: to get inspired, to plan, book and finally, to experience.
Carpenter commented that while the original site was successful - lasting for nearly 10 years - change was needed to accommodate the travel landscape today. This site, she said, should last for another 10 years before needing another overhaul.