Designing for the travel industry: A conversation with Adam Connolly

What does it take to design for the travel industry, besides a lot of coffee. With an ever increasing move towards mobile bookings and rapidly changing trends in web-design, it can be hard to keep up.

I sat down with Digital Trip’s Head of Design and User Experience, Adam Connolly, to hear his thoughts on what it takes to design a travel website, create a client’s brand and why it's important to have a mobile-first approach.

What’s the first step of any design?

Understanding the client and their business is key.

At the first stage of any client’s design process, we ask them to help us understand their business and its client base by completing a project briefing form.

This document includes a series of detailed questions ranging from basic contact information to demographics and any additional features they wish to include on their site. Alongside this, we’ll also ask for relevant documentation, i.e. branding guidelines, logo etc.

This information provides the design team with a clear objective when considering the client’s visual identity.

What is usually your source of inspiration?

If there’s one thing you’ll quickly learn as a designer, it’s that every business has unique needs. You must adapt accordingly yes, but that’s the fun part.

When designing a client’s website, as you might have already guessed, we’ll have to take into consideration everything from their unique product offering to their specific style and niche.

This will usually lead to conducting a heavy amount of research into key design trends.

For inspiration, I would advise looking at Pinterest and the AWW Awards regularly. It's also a good idea to stay up to date on what some of the biggest players online are doing, such as Skyscanner and Kayak, to name a few.

I feel it's very important for the team to look at current trends in design, this helps us to create a visual that is both engaging and functional for the client and offers everything today’s consumers have come to expect from a modern travel website.

What’s the process for creating a client’s brand?

Everything starts with branding, there’s no denying that. Every website intricately centres around it, from font style to the use of colour, it’s the very core of a company’s identity online.

In most cases, branding is supplied to us and we design around those guidelines. However, for new and upcoming businesses who do not yet have an identity online, we will actively work with them to create a logo that is modern and unique.

Starting with a few initial concepts, ideas will be discussed. Once a design has been chosen, it will eventually become the final logo.

How do you approach the homepage?

The homepage is an important aspect of any website, but in the case of travel websites, it’s crucial.

The homepage is the first thing customers will see, so it’s important you get it right. We strive to create a homepage that is both visually stunning and engaging for its users.

We’ll design the homepage based on a client’s brand specifications, ensuring the design is tailored towards their target market. Content is important here, everything from imagery and use of language, to colour theory, promotional banners and special offers are all essential elements.

At the end of the day, we’re really aiming to design a homepage that will drive traffic for our client.

Once a mockup of our designs have been shared with our clients we gather feedback, make the appropriate changes, or advise on other ideas.

The design is then signed off by the client.

What happens next?

Once we have completed the homepage, we will move on to a client’s flow pages.

Based on the homepage we have created, we can build entire sets of booking flow pages with consistent branding throughout. Whether that’s for selling accommodation, flights, attractions, package holidays or anything in-between.

These mockup pages allow the client to see how a user will interact with their site, from results, all the way through to payment confirmation. We also create static pages such as “about us” and “contact us” to help the client realise what is possible within our technology platform using the tools found within our Content Management System (CMS).

How is designing for mobile different?

Many companies will utilise an adaptive approach, having several technology platforms for desktop, tablet and mobile.

This has its advantages, however, to manage up to 3 different layouts can be a very time-consuming process. For a more streamlined approach, we utilise a responsive platform so any change made is reflected on all devices and screens.

It is important to think mobile first and then translate that design over to desktop, this way you can ensure your client will be delivering a consistent user experience across multiple devices.

With screen sizes constantly changing and updating as mobile technology improves, it's important to prioritise content and ensure the user experience is simple to use and intuitive. Designing mobile first means we can deliver the best booking experience possible.

How much input does the client have?

My design team bring a wealth of knowledge and creativity to any project, but at the end of the day, it is the client's website.

It's very important for us to get feedback and solve any questions asked as we move through the design process. To do this, we use an online tool, Invision, to showcase our design and gather feedback from the client at every stage.

We want the design stage for any client to be fun. After all, we're responsible for bringing their vision to life on screen and want them to be confident that their project is in the right hands.

Talk to the experts

Digital Trip provides advanced, flexible travel technology solutions for the online travel market. We have helped more than 450 travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and travel specialists find success online.

Working closely with you, our design team will take advantage of the flexibility of our technology and the huge array of advanced features available to create a design that's on brand and encompasses everything your customers expect from a leading travel website.

Talk to us today, contact Digital Trip