Modern online luxury
The primary challenge of the project was establishing a design and UX that was easy to navigate and conveyed the quality and luxury of the hotels Magellan offers. Previously operating under many domains, we were building a new, unified brand along with a completely new feature set and sitemap.
Like much of the web, Magellan’s customers were increasingly coming from mobile devices. They had no mobile presence and were losing a sizable percentage of potential customers. We needed to create a mobile experience that converted on par with the desktop site while preserving the luxury experience.
Magellan needed a powerful CMS that had requirements well outside any off-the-shelf solution. They also needed a technology stack that was modern and flexible to allow the company to quickly try new ideas and integrate with partners. Finally they needed many specialized tools for analytics, ad management and A/B testing, while maintaining very high uptime requirements.
Since Magellan’s business required users to call in to make a purchase, the barrier to entry for most users seemed high. Educating the user on why Magellan uses the phone and why it is a better experience was a key challenge to increasing conversion.
Strategy & UX
The first part of our plan was to update Magellan to follow best practices across all aspects of their business, from ad sizing to technology, as we believed this change alone would have a large impact. From there we looked for opportunities to innovate on key aspects of their product. The first thing we established was a consolidated sitemap as their previous offering was spread over 12 individual sites. Once we had a plan for a single domain for all Magellan content we worked to establish a new brand tone and style guide. Our early focus was on content strategy and establishing a standard of high quality content throughout their offering. Once we had resolved the design and UX, we worked to plan an entirely new technology stack including a custom CMS to power their site. Finally the new product would roll out into one market at a time allow us time to test the usability and conversion thereby minimizing the risk to their existing income streams.
We knew the Magellan design needed to be modern and luxurious. We conveyed the quality of each hotel with large images, magazine-style layouts and custom assets. The site has great depth and a lot of content but is still very simple to navigate for new users.
The hotel pages are the heart of the site, and each one needs to feel like both the Magellan brand as well as the brand of the specific hotel. Each page conveys that these are luxury hotels with world class amenities, locations and style.
The mobile site needed to have much of the same depth of the desktop site while still remaining fast and lightweight. This was a significant design problem as the desktop site is full of large, heavy images. We created a Magellan mobile experience that was both fast and stylish while also ensuring an easy path to conversion.
Magellan is known for expert advice and in-depth knowledge about their locations, and the destination hubs were designed to illustrate this fact. These pages were designed to tell small stories about each city and with a focus on beautiful imagery.
Building a strong brand on top of a business is a challenging endeavour. Previous to the technology and design overhaul, Magellan Vacations had built their online business on the back of terrific ad buying, SEO and customer service. With a modern technology stack, updated requirements for high quality content, and integration with their legacy architecture, there were growing pains in line for Magellan. By building a trusting relationship, we were able to help at every step of the way. Custom service is how they built their repeat business, and that level of service is what we delivered to help them through this transformation.