Hello Traveler. Meet Wyoming “Beta”

Wyoming Tourism

Wyoming or iStockphoto?

‘Tis must be re-design season!  Last week, we brought you the new and  paradoxical North Carolina tourism site; today, we present you Wyoming tourism’s beta release of their new state tourism site.   And of course like before, please read our comments and tell us if you agree or disagree. And don’t forget to vote! (Email or RSS readers, can’t see the poll? Visit the Travel 2.0 blog to vote)

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Thoughts// Our first thought was wow.  Kudos to our friends in Wyoming for completely throwing out the misbegotten tradition of cluttering the homepage with a random sampling of content, text and images that “covers” all bases and constituencies.   Consumers coming to a DMO/CVB site basically fall into two of the of the following broad categories:

  1. I’m curious about your state/region and am looking for inspiration & information
  2. I know exactly where I am going in your state/region – tell me all there is to see/do/eat etc.

When it comes to delivering information and telling folks what to see and do, the Wyoming site is clearly a winner.  The site brings together an extensive list of destination content including things to do, where to go, events, airport locations, cities/towns, hospital locations, transportation and wedding planning services.   Any time that much content is assembled and disseminated under one platform, displaying and surfacing this content in an intuitive and compelling manner becomes challenging; often this challenge manifests itself in the form of “clutter” and a hodgepodge navigational hierarchy.

We’re excited by Wyoming’s brilliantly simple approach to this challenge – tagging & visual navigation.

Much like Colorado and the Oregon Coast, Wyoming uses photography as a navigational tool to tell the story of the state.   Highlights include:

  • Each photo is tagged to specific experiences in the state; and clicking on a photo takes you to a landing page that pulls together experiences/content that are relevant; for example, clicking on the “canoeing/kayaking” photo takes you to page that brings together rivers/parks where you can experience the water and places to stay that are by the water.
  • While the listings information is not as presented as elegantly as the North Carolina site, its depth is remarkable; it’s noteworthy that the listings are presented in several ways; users can view these experiences in a list form or toggle and view them on a Google map and view relevant tips/resources. An untapped opportunity here is community involvement; while consumers can share listings with friends via an “add this” type function, they can’t submit reviews or ratings.
  • Each piece of content also appears to have been tagged by experience (e.g. “Cultural Exploration”), travel personality (e.g. “RV Cruiser”) and season (e.g. “Fall”) enabling consumers to make discovery even easier.
  • Finally, the concept of visual tagging was also extended to destinations within state and looking up information for a particular city (Casper for example) pulls together any and all content that’s tagged “Casper”.   I am also curious if the tagging/visual navigation is driven by click stream data; for example, if most people are clicking on the “family experiences”, does that content dynamically get a higher profile across the site?  And how do still give prominence to content that’s perhaps not as popular but still important to the state?

While we love the multiple options to “slice” content and truly appreciate the effort it must have taken to tag state level data so meticulously, we were underwhelmed by the site’s failure to communicate the sense of wonder, exploration or adventure of the “forever west” state.  The execution of the visual search application—while intuitive—feels like a familiar “mashup” of Microsoft Vista-meets-Adobe Lightbox-meets iStockphoto; the presentation of the photography fails to captivate and editorial storytelling takes a backseat to the search functionality.   Taken holistically, the site feels more like a search tool than an immersive experience built to engage audiences.

Perhaps you’re thinking “so what”?  Our job is to give information on things to see and do…correct?

Absolutely not.  Troy and I strongly believe that as the authoritative voice of the brand, a destination site needs to communicate its story and weave the tapestry (of the content) together in a compelling and evocative manner in order to inspire, inform and create fans.

We have absolutely no doubt that the Wyoming beta is on right path.  That’s why they call it beta after all right?  What do you think?  Check out Wyoming beta and tell us!

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Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.