Destination Port Stephens (DPS) is the regional tourism organisation responsible for marketing and developing tourism in and around the Nelson Bay/Port Stephens area. Alongside the regions Visitor Information Centres (VIC) the DPS website forms the backbone of the regions tourism marketing and experience booking generating essential revenue through sales commission. The existing site had reached a point where it was not effectively reaching the organisation's goals. We were brought in to redevelop the website with the primary goals of optimising the booking process, improving product finding and presentation and integrating an intuitive platform for content publication. Redeveloped and new functionality included: booking system with multiple product types, user accounts with permission hierarchy, front-end content management and an interactive map with destination overviews and route planning.
I played a leadership role in the stakeholder focus groups, competitor analysis and analytics audits that would inform the development process. A number of organisations were involved in the redevelopment including the incumbent design agency and I was also responsible for internal project management and chairing ongoing stakeholder meetings.
Alongside the senior developer I outlined object scoping, site mapping and information architecture. We utilised personas and card sorting to aid development of key user flows and data integrations. Collaborating closely with with stakeholders I developed a series of wireframes outlining the key functionality which informed the design of user interface (UI) concepts for review. A major challenge was navigating high-level stakeholder ego’s which occasionally contradicted our user centred approach and research findings. Once a visual direction was approved I designed a comprehensive, high-fidelity UI. Working closely with the development team we released staged prototypes allowing stakeholders to review progress and us to iterate based on testing.
I also played a key role in front-end development ensuring style cohesion and quality control.
UX/UI challenge in detail
The most significant UI challenge in this project was the diverse nature of the products, their content and how they could be booked. Expressing how important it was that users were presented with a consistent UI and intuitive UX despite the diversity. I outlined an design system that elegantly delivered information and booking options into a core components that were extended as necessary depending on the level of listing information and booking process required. For example a complex listing such as a hotel room displaying availability used the same component at the core as a simple business directory listing.
The redevelopment was a huge success. Ultimately I developed a design system that exceeded stakeholder expectations but more importantly reduced bounce rate and increased sales through the site.
*I designed the new Port Stephens website to integrate with the BookEasy booking system, widely embedded in councils and tourism bodies throughout Australia. In comparison to other regions using the same system (including the likes of Visit Gold Coast and Visit Newcastle) the new site maintains the highest ratio of booking conversions versus the regions Visitor Information Centres.