7 Brilliant Tourism Destination Website Designs
Published on November 4, 2015
As the internet evolves over time, so has the way people expect to engage and interact with content on a tourism website. As you know, website design is in constant flux, with so many new technologies driving demand for more immersive and engaging online experiences.
Now, we all know that tourism websites can no longer be a replica of a product brochure – they need to inspire, transport minds and provide the first real brand experience for ‘would be’ travellers.
In this article, I thought I would share some of my favourite tourism destination websites from across the globe, to demonstrate some of the newer design elements that are taking shape online. Hopefully this will inspire some changes or updates to your tourism website, regardless of whether you are a tourism business or destination!
Travel Oregon’s website has to be one of my favourite destination sites, and one I use frequently in our Mentoring Programs and eCourses as an example for Website Marketing and Blogging. There are so many great things about this website, but from a design perspective they’ve hit the nail on the head with the following elements:
- When you arrive at the site, you have a clear sense of brand. I’ve never actually travelled to Oregon, but there is no mistaking that the combination of raw and authentic imagery, coupled with some cheeky graphics and an array of complimentary font styles and sizes brings their brand message to life.
- From a wireframe perspective, the full width imagery and use of parallax scrolling on their home page & destination pages adds some depth to the user experience, and it’s fantastic that they have used a sticky header, which ensures the user will never be lost, and a variety of different column combinations to keep their information orderly, and easy to navigate.
- The internal page design templates (blog posts & product pages) are fairly straightforward, featuring major headings using their bespoke hero font and large images, followed by the use of a righthand sidebar to tuck away the additional, useful information for the visitor.
Iceland’s consumer website is one of the most sophisticated and stunning destination websites I’ve come across of late. I think the reason why it has such a profound impact from a visual perspective is because the whole site design is based on grayscale, which enhances the beauty of the real-life imagery used throughout.
Some of the highlights for me on this site include:
- The use of gorgeous, potentially bespoke font style for all of their major headings, coupled with a plain Arial font for the body copy, which complements the very simple design style.
- They’ve really nailed the ’tile’ look throughout the website, with all internal pages (excluding product pages) featuring tiles that enlarge when you hover over them with a mouse for the sub-menus.
- Their wireframe for the majority of major pages has taken advantage of full width imagery and long scrolling pages to immerse the user in their brand and message – which is extremely popular in current website design.
- They’ve changed up the design of their product pages templates, which are more of a block style template, featuring a right hand menu/information section, and reversed out the main navigation to a black background, which helps to signify to the user that they are on a product page.
Visit Fraser Coast & Bundaberg North Burnett
These two websites, I believe, are the result of a state-wide initiative by Tourism & Events Queensland, who have created a website style guide of sorts to maintain the branding messaging for the state – and what a brilliant product this is.
Whilst there are a lot of functional, usability and design elements that are consistent across both platforms, the distinct destination messages are really clear, as all of the page templates are image and video heavy, which allows them to express their individuality, whilst maintaining the overall branding for the state.
Some of the design elements that really work across both sites include:
- Fixed/sticky headers, and simple easy-to navigate structure
- Use of imagery throughout all page templates, drop-down vertical & tile navigation
- Full width page templates featuring stunning hero imagery, giving a sense of place and source of inspiration
- Consistent use of the uniquely ‘Queensland’ brand font styles and sizes and stamp graphics
- Simple colour schemes, which are tailored for each destination
- Flat design (no bevel, gradients or shadows) used throughout, especially for the search functionality/contact forms.
Now, some may say that having all (or majority of) destinations across the QLD using the same website template may not support brand differentiation, but I say that it absolutely strengthens the state brand, and encourages familiarity for the potential visitor which will likely convert into brand trust and advocacy, and ultimately sales for the state!
I wanted to share this website with you particularly to show you how dramatic you can get with your tourism website design… in a good way!
On arrival to this website, you will notice that the home page is culturally immersing, as soon as you load it (which can take some time depending on your internet connection) a exciting video starts automatically. This is coupled with scroll activated graphics as you move down the content, making for a very action packed experience. Although I’ve never been to Belize, I imagine this to be the first impression you get when you physically arrive, which is what you need to achieve from your website design.
The pace of the website, however, slows considerably as you enter the internal pages. Featuring full width heading and image section at the top, followed by a left hand feature image with a 2/3 column wireframe layout, basic font scheme, and finishing off with tiling navigation references at the bottom of each page.
A quick side note. Although the homepage design for this website is fantastic and really engaging once it has loaded, it does take a little while for the auto-play video to load, which may be of detriment to the overall usability of the site which could affect conversions.
In my opinion, the recently redeveloped Your Margaret River Region website is what I like to call the ‘new standard’ for the industry, and anything less would be considered old school. They’ve executed the design of this website perfectly, offering a wonderful brand experience for the website user.
The website ticks the majority (if not all) of the new age website design trend boxes, including:
- Parallax Scrolling… tick
- Large, personality driven hero font, coupled with a suite of serif and sans-serif subheading and body copy fonts… tick
- Flat design (no shadow/bevel/gradients etc)… tick
- Solid, simple colour scheme (on brand too!)… tick
- Tiling used throughout (homepage boxes, Tip Ideas home and individual posts)… tick
- Full width imagery coupled with parallax scrolling… tick
- Image movement with mouse hover (see bottom of this post)… tick
- Fixed headers… tick
On a side note, Your Margaret River Region have established a blog on this new website too, which is absolutely brilliant, and worth taking a look if you are considering it for yourself – definitely best way to drive more traffic to your website!
100% Pure New Zealand
What’s not to love about New Zealand, let alone their fully immersive website! This website is a brilliant example of a comprehensive tourism destination website with numerous integrations and seriously good design.
This website speaks volumes of their brand, with a gorgeous bespoke, hand crafted font style (which is used throughout all marketing material on and offline for the destination) and dominating black and white colour palette, which really highlights their magnificent photography.
They couple this with a modern sans-serif font for all headings and body copy, which compliments their hero font, and manage to keep a clean interface with plenty of white space, not to suffocate their users on their journey to convert.
The use of tiling throughout the website in all major sub pages and home page is lovely, as it’s not overbearing or confusing, with a mouse hover effect for their call to actions.
What I admire about the site is that they haven’t gone too over the top with integrating every single new age design elements. They’ve hand-picked relevant elements, and neatly integrated them among some standard design. For example, their product search pages aren’t overly design speccy, neither are their product pages either – but there is a lot to be said for keeping things minimalist and simple on these high converting pages.