Case Study: / Phoenix CVB

The new homepage.

As we start into a new year, we felt it proper to review a group of  CVB / DMO sites with the purpose of jump-starting your 2010 with some good and bad interactive strategies.  Hopefully, more good than bad.

We have already examined the sequel to the Visit California site in Case Study: Redesign With a Vengeance.

For this entry, let’s take a look at the revamped Visit Phoenix site.

Following the pattern of less is more…which we completely endorse at the Travel 2.0 Blog…the new Phoenix site removes the unnecessary clutter from the homepage in lieu of large, iconic images, minimal navigation and key links.

The navigational layout on the right side is unique and obvious, clearly called out as being important.  Additionally the structure stays the same, while changing sides, on the interior pages.

The homepage rounds out with the standard, but required booking widget, events calendar and a nicely laid out ‘Insider’ section for everything social media.  While nicely contained, the Insider section does fail to distinguish itself as social media content.  Too easily overlooked, even while centered on the page.

Not a huge fan of white on black, but the full color palate does work with the dark layout.  However, I must say that the dark layout on the homepage is a bit odd for a city known as the valley of the sun.  A bit too dark for the average consumer’s perception.

However that dark and damp feel is quickly forgotten once a user clicks into the primary content sections of the site.  The colorful mosaic pattern feels bright and authentic, sunny and relaxing.  A feature that should be pulled onto the homepage to replace the flat black feel of the welcome page.

While we are talking about updating the homepage, let’s talk about the large hero image.  As we mentioned above, it gives instant recognition for the city, but the rotation speed and lack of user controls is a big negative.  As the images keep spinning to the left I find myself looking away to avoid being overcome with sea sickness.  Ironic, I know.  Plus, the constant movement of the image negates all of the positives we spoke about before.  That unique navigation is simply a blur as I look elsewhere on the page.

Really, a pause button would do wonders.

As we dig a bit deeper into the site we find the normal fare.  A basic events section, some trip ideas and lists of attractions that fit nicely into a group…plus an abundance of over-the-top marketing speak.  “Things are different in the desert. The sky is bigger. The stars are brighter. The sunsets stop you in your tracks.” All well and good, but that really does not tell me why I should visit Phoenix instead of Palm Springs.

Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but certainly an opportunity for improvement.  Hopefully we will see an expansion of content as the site begins to mature.

So, out of a possible 5 saguaro(s), we will give this update a solid 3…just a few changes away from a 4.

Case Study Takeaways:

  1. Simple is better, especially on the homepage.
  2. Do not forget your image.  Not the image your marketing agency has in mind, but the image in your consumer’s mind.
  3. Content is still king.
  4. Give your visitors options to control rich media content.
  5. Navigation is meant to guide the consumer, make it prominent.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.