A couple of days ago I was checking up websites of “bigger” Slovenian cities and noticed huge differences in design, content and overall user experience for potential visitors. Let’s have a look at the “touristic” city websites in Slovenia and across the world and see where we can do things better to attract more tourists and make more revenue.
Slovenian city websites
Like in most countries, we have a “general” tourist website on the highest, national level, which can be found on Slovenia.info. This website does its job well for now, however the mobile version is not very convincing and I honestly prefer themultimedia one. The guys over at the Slovenian Tourist Office (STO) are also keeping themselves busy on many social networks, mobile apps, WeChat etc., so two thumbs up for them. The number of tourists coming to Slovenia is growing every year – if you want to crunch some numbers, click here. However, the story is different if we go one level lower – to Slovenian cities – and try to find information about visit and/or what to do. Or if we just want to get a general feel and location of the city. Although the “smallness” of Slovenia is definitely something to brag about and cruising around doesn’t take much time -not everyone knows that you can usually drive across Slovenia (by car) in just about 2 hours. Except if you use the railway, those are really a special vintage 1960s deluxe experience. Let’s have a look at some websites now:
- Visit Ljubljana – https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/
Simple, yet effective user interface works well for our capital city, although I miss a bit more segmentation of what the city has to offer for different kinds of tourists and perhaps the overall feeling (the “dreamy-i-want-to-go-there” part) could be upgraded a bit. The mobile experience is nice and the booking engine works without problems. Social wall is a nice addition, but the videos are hard to find. Also, some 360° photos / virtual walks would put a cherry on top.
- Kranjska Gora – http://www.kranjska-gora.si/en/
One of the Slovenia’s most important tourist destinations is the town of Kranjska Gora in the north-west part of Slovenia. Simple and elegant user interface works well at first but gets a bit tricky the deeper we go and the user might get lost in the navigation. The main slider can be a bit confusing (who is the guy with the hat, where do I click…?). I miss cross-selling offers (if you like “Planica”, we suggest you to visit “Slovenian Alpine Museum) and the general position of the city/region in Slovenia. Also, the design gets crushed on the mobile. Culinary recipes are a nice addition, but I still miss more authentic content. Also, the booking engine is not very friendly. Contact information in the footer is missing fax number (lovely placeholder though).
- Piran & Portorož – http://www.portoroz.si/en/
Coastal cities of Piran & Portorož have a mutual website, which in my opinion doesn’t do them right – Portorož is a “modern” coastal town with many hotels and activities; Piran is an older town with narrow streets and lovely boutique shops / restaurants. Website should’ve told us that at a glance. It has loads of information and well segmented offer, but lacks of the design aspect, featured photos aren’t attractive at all and I believe everything is just a bit too confusing for the user. Too many booking forms, which don’t look good at all on the mobile. Also, no videos and 360 photos.
- Bled – http://www.bled.si/en/
In general, I really like the Bled’s website, especially since it’s quite old (2013). The one thing I’m not sure about is the A-Z listings – usually the “sort by popularity” default listing works better. Room for upgrades? Sure – more clickable areas on the frontpage (slider, boxes with Premium packages), videos, virtual tours and a friendlier booking engine. Also, there are too many “Booking / Inquiry” options listed.
- Velenje – http://www.velenje-tourism.si/en/
Very nice website, I especially like the “Velenje in 2 hours / 1 day / 3 days” part. Virtual tours make a nice addition to certain attractions, general information and content are all nicely designed and communicated. Mobile experience is good, although the social icons go missing there for some reason or are displayed way too big (Information section). The video on the front page could be stored on the website and loaded via HTML5 (and not YouTube) so it would flow with the overall design.
- Vrhnika – http://www.visitvrhnika.si/en/
Another lovely website – informative, clean and elegant. This concept works well and communicates the desired information. Mobile experience is very good too (except the information part, the icon takes way too much space). I miss videos and 360° photos and suggestions on which activities/sights to combine together, since there are so many (there are hourly/daily guides as we’ve seen on the Velenje website, but still). There aren’t any general photos of the city on the front page (I know there are some good view points and also the city is full of little streams, so no excuses there). The website is also just in Slovenian and English language.
- Goriška Brda – http://www.brda.si/eng/
The most famous Slovenian wine region has a crowded website, that doesn’t make you feel the emotions that you would feel if you actually visited Brda, not either does it do a good job communicating activities and sights to see there. If we have a look at the “Discover Tuscany” region website, which Brda as a region look up to – https://www.discovertuscany.com, we can see many differences at a glance (I’m not saying that Tuscany website is top shit, but the content and the overall feel are way better). Also, the mobile experience of Brda website is zero, null, nada… I will stop commenting now before I get frustrated.
- Nova Gorica – http://www.novagorica-turizem.com/eng/
Touristic website of my hometown, a city on the western part of Slovenia, right on the border with Italy. The website is trying to be something innovative, but it lacks the user experience. A lot. The main logo is positioned on the right (smaller, and actually works as a “home” button, the bigger logo on the left is there supposedly just to look, I don’t know, cool?). You don’t know where to click and where not to click – what is link and what is not? Also, dropdown menus are a nightmare. There is no “cross-sell” of activities / sights, the mobile experience is barely usable. The icons are a mess and everything just gives you a feeling of when someone is trying to achieve something “artistic” but is failing badly. It actually really pisses me off that I have to criticize in this way, but if we compare this website with the examples above and belowe, we can easily notice the difference in usability, user experience and the overall communication. Gosh. Let’s have a look at some of the foreign examples and calm down.
The big league players
- Dubai – http://www.visitdubai.com/en/
Elegant website that is not cluttered with too much information. Photos, videos, 360° videos, mobile app and nice cross-selling and segmentation works well. The mobile experience could be improved a bit (bigger clickable areas, less scrolling and similar segmentation as desktop version etc.).
- New York – http://www.nycgo.com/
Bold design that gives you the city vibes in a second you visit. Mobile experience is top notch. Attractions are featured in slideshows (I hate the ads though), but you can also get more information on landing pages of certain attraction / activity etc. Some nice 360° photos/videos would be a nice addition, but apart from that, the website and the content are well built.
- Vienna / Wien – https://www.wien.info/en
Perhaps a bit too informative (and therefore static) on the front page, but the featured photos and the question behind logo look cool and add up to the whole experience. All the information (and cross-selling) works well on the subpages. Mobile experience is lovely and almost brings tears to my eyes.
- London – http://www.visitlondon.com/
Wtf is with the top banner? It really doesn’t add up to the whole experience. I like the rest of the page, the way the information is segmented and served (Tripadvisor reviews of attractions, relevant and additional information, mixing events and attractions and also the “Hotels near XYZ attraction” section). The virtual tour is a nice addition too. Mobile version could be a bit better designed and also shorter, but I guess there is a lot to be said about London.
- Zuerich – https://www.zuerich.com/en
A very dreamy website that nicely presents what the city has to offer. I like the use of videos, photos and “experiences” with photo transitions and well-chosen typographies and the front page filter of various offers. Also, you can select favorites and plan your itinerary in advance. Mobile version is a bit long, but apart from that it is flawless.
How to win and attract more tourists?
As we’ve seen on the examples above, the main thing is to keep things simple in a clean design and all the front page content well-segmented. Make life easier for visitors that come on your website and try to cover all the phases of the “conversion process”:
- Browsing – How will I find you on the Google? Why should I?
- Dreaming – I want to come there, what do you have to offer?
- Purchase – I need information to book / find concrete information / plan itinerary, please deliver and don’t make me click too much.
- The visit – Be my guide during my visit.
- The return – Don’t forget about me when I go home.
Think about what (and how much) information you want to give to user on every interaction. We usually start our browsing way ahead before we are actually willing to make a commitment – book a hotel / ticket / etc. Make sure you catch and nurture with your website as many of this moments as possible. There are many ways available to help you do that – most of them you can find in the examples above. Also, focus on the mobile experience and the booking / inquiry forms. Never forget to measure, test and measure again. I left out the part about advertising and other activities you should think about when you are competing in the tourism business, but that’s a story for another time. If you have a good example or a feature of a tourist destination website, please share it with me, I will owe you a beer (or two ;-)).