In this day and age, user-centric content is still King. It is now more important than ever to develop online content which is useful and relevant to the right customer, at the right time, and using the right channel. Creating usable and concise content is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it’s a crucial business asset to your brand and a sustainable differentiator with your audience. The Travel & Tourism vertical is a competitive industry that sells and fulfills dreams and experiences for individuals worldwide. It engages users with content that educates, inspires and compels them to take action. Today’s online traveler wants to “see” and “experience” a vacation destination before booking a vacation. They are investing hard-earned money and precious time on a dream holiday. They expect a taste of that trip well before packing their bags.
New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism & Parks (NBT) partnered with T4G’s User Experience team in an effort to create a website that tells the stories of all the great things the province has to offer travelers. Their site now handily achieves this goal through its new content architecture and through the use of videos, pictures, interactive mapping and written content. It can be accessed at www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca.
New Brunswick, with all its natural beauty and unique attractions, is still viewed by many travelers as a “drive thru” province and not an ultimate travel destination. NBT is mandated to bolster the provinces tourism industry; it needed to change the mindset of online travelers about New Brunswick as a travel destination. In today’s economic climate, tourism organizations have to be smart about identifying efficient and measurable ways to encourage visitation. Adding to the challenge, NBT knew it needed a new way to communicate its brochure and printed guide information as relevant online content. NBT knew what it needed to tell the world, it just needed a partner with a holistic understanding of online user experience and content design to help relay the message.
T4G’s User Experience team was brought in to help NBT create a dynamic and fresh online presence. They knew NBT needed usercentric content: content that appeals to a user’s online persona and delivers the experience of New Brunswick through words, images and video. This project involved much more than just re-writing existing content and optimizing pages for the site; it demanded that T4G develop an “online voice” for New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism & Parks (NBT). The site had to have the key attributes, tone and vocabulary to effectively deliver NBT’s message.
To tackle this challenge, the T4G User Experience team began by completing a comprehensive review of NBT’s website. They determined who the online users were, and established the organization’s business goals. Then, using this information, they developed a holistic approach to content in order to create content relevance and site-wide brand awareness.
T4G helped NBT define their online presence through the development of an Online Voice & Style Guide. T4G also developed a Creative Brief that helped to align NBT’s key messages to a user’s information needs in a meaningful, useful way. These “living & breathing” roadmap documents were critical to the success of the overall approach as they provided consistent guidelines for writers and other content producers to adhere to as they developed new content. These documents helped provide a consistent voice, tone and vocabulary across the entire site.
T4G’s next step was to develop a new information architecture. This gave the website’s content new structure to enhance a user’s online experience. From this came NBT’s User Content Design Strategy, which placed more emphasis on the online traveler and developed travel information of relevance and of interest.
T4G also took into consideration how online users searched, scanned and tagged information online. They discovered that 90% of NBT’s inbound traffic was from search engines. Using this information they optimized all new content so it could be easily located through search engines and by search engine crawlers. They also created simple bookmarking & sharing functionality to assist users in distributing NBT’s site content within their personal social networks.
Finally, T4G’s User Experience team focused on strengthening NBT’s relationships with its users by providing them with a voice within the New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism & Parks ’s online brand where communication vehicles have been designed and customized especially for them. To improve the user’s online experience, rich video media & still images were added to enhance the users researching experience. Social bookmarking and sharing functionality was also incorporated within this phase to enable online users the ability to share and tag this information with their personal networks.
The new site is receiving rave reviews from users. In particular, users are finding the content relevant and educational. For example, the video telling the story of the world’s highest tides (48 feet or more than 14 metres) in the Bay of Fundy is compelling and entices visitors to come and leave their footprints on the ocean floor! In general, site users say the content is well organized, and leaves them more assured of what they will discover from a trip to New Brunswick.
This project also helped further establish the growing partnership between T4G and New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism & Parks.
“T4G is one of the most professional and easy-to-work-with companies I have dealt with in my 30-plus years of working with vendors. T4G has all the services we need, including development, technical support, project management, analytical experts, and a User Experience team that is second-to-none,” says Carol Alderdice of New Brunswick’s Department of Tourism & Parks & Parks.
"Since 90 per cent of NBT’s inbound traffic was from search engines, all new content developed was optimized to ensure it could be found within search engines by the user and by search engine crawlers."