A user-first mindset, teamwork and proper planning will set you up for success.
Octane Design has worked with the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau for more than 12 years, producing a significant amount of award-winning marketing materials including Visit Detroit magazine, visitdetroit.com, annual reports, brochures, direct mail pieces, pitch books and ad development.
Mobile changed the game
In 2016, the DMCVB was tasked with completely redesigning and relaunching its website, visitdetroit.com. What did they want? A website that gave users a more mobile-friendly experience, offered an amazing event search experience and incorporated clearer navigation and improved mapping capabilities. They also wanted a site that expertly combined content from their magazine and blog, as well as information useful to their members and meeting planners. And, they wanted the site transition to be transparent to visitors and members.
They turned to Octane Design and our programming partner, InsideOut Design & Development to get the job done ... again.
In 2012, we had taken their then-archaic website -- which lacked functionality, a modern appearance and a simple process for quick updates -- and transformed it into an award-winning dot.com worthy of a Destination Marketing Organization such as the DMCVB. In fact, in the first three months after this new iteration of visitdetroit.com launched more than 60 percent of site visitors said they were more likely to visit Detroit as a result of their website experience.
We were set on giving the DMCVB a repeat performance for visitdetroit.com 2017.
First, we searched out creative partners that we could collaborate with and brainstorm ideas -- harnessing the power of a diverse group of expert skill sets. Applied Storytelling and Velvet Hammer, for example, jumped on board to do a ton of the upfront work, researching the ins and outs of what a destination website such as visitdetroit.com needed to offer. Our long-standing relationship with InsideOut Design & Development, specialists in the creation of responsive websites and custom web-based solutions, also made them a perfect fit for this project.
The discovery phase was intense. Hours were spent studying analytics, workflow charts, site maps and assets. Months of data was compiled, many personas developed and user journeys examined. With the DMCVB, we meticulously reviewed and tweaked several rounds of wireframes. It was a grueling, yet rewarding, exercise in teamwork that we could not have accomplished without the leadership and support of the DMCVB. They never wavered in their belief of the process that allowed us to deliver the best website we could within the budget we had in front of us.
The end result is a responsive website design that puts the user first and integrates the DMCVB’s CRM database into the hub so the bureau can easily update events, member information and content within the site. The hub also allows the DMCVB to share much of their content as a feed to DDAs, chambers and other outlets..
Other key features we developed for the site:
- The “What’s Nearby” feature, which lets users view an event or venue and will then pull up other must-knows – things to do, food, hotels – near a chosen location. This feature is a one-click button from every mobile phone.
- A customized event search, which allows users to filter and search for to-dos by date, interests and type of event to help make planning a visit to Detroit simple.
- A variety of itineraries, deals and destination district activities, which are posted and presented in easy-to-read formats.
Honestly, we were prepared, and we prepared the DMCVB, to see website traffic fall right after launch. It’s a fairly common occurrence. Instead, the DMCVB experienced an uptick in page views from 48,700 the month prior to launch to more than 54,000 during the launch and more than 55,000 the month after launch. Plus mobile and tablet traffic on the site through mid-year 2017 was already at more than 54 percent.
Visitdetroit.com is a finished product to be proud of -- an example of teamwork, solid partnerships and good planning that amounted to great success.
If you would like to take a more unconventional approach with your next website design or want to gain a clearer sense of your audience, contact us.