Your menu structure is not a place to promote your brand. It’s a signpost to help people find information and navigate between pages. This is the story of how we redesigned the navigation of a site with more than a hundred different pages.
We worked with a Hungarian hotel chain, Danubius Hotels Group. It is a chain of different types of hotels providing medical and wellness treatments, holidays, and city visits. They came to us because they wanted to increase repeat business and incremental revenue from the domestic market and engage with the audience on a more personal level.
Their website had 100+ pages, most of them were full of unstructured text content not being read by anyone, and no call to action at all. The menu structure was a labyrinth with overlapping and unhelpful labeling. What a mess!
Based on the Google Analytics and Hotjar heat maps we confirmed that the users were lost in the labyrinth. One of the main menus (Adventure Holiday) was not being used at all by them. 90% of users were lost in the booking process. All the useful information was hidden. The phone was ringing all day in the HQ with people asked questions about the services already described on the site. A lot of people were booking via phone because it was easier.
Information architecture (IA) is one of those buzzwords you’ve probably heard before. It refers to the organization of the information on your website. When planning your IA, involve the users of your website in the process as soon as you can. That is exactly what we did. We started everything with user interviews and created the following personas:
- city breaker
- business traveler
- wellness bargain hunter
- retiree with discount
- ‘go for it’ family
- medical spa explorer
- event organizer
We also did card sorting exercises using Optimal Workshop. The combination of user interviews together with card sorting has worked very well. They complement each other nicely: interviews summarize the main expectations that users have, while the card sorting shows us how people want to organize things. We focused on carrying out card sorting activities with all types of personas, because they have different motivations when using the site, so we need to carefully understand their individual mindsets.
After 15 interviews and card sorting tests, it became clear that people have two different approaches when they want to spend a weekend somewhere. As one of the participants told us: “We know where we want to go with our friends and we wanna find the best accommodation in that area. Or we are in a wellness mood with my girlfriend so we wanna find good wellness services….the location is not that important” So we created a double search input field for visitors. In the first field you can search by destination, and in the second by services.
We have also learned that users want to be inspired by many choices if they are looking for accommodation or wellness treatment. But when they are looking for a medical treatment, instead of many options, they want to see a detailed description of what the treatment’s benefit will be.
Finally, we simplified the main menus for the following 4 options:
- medical treatments
- meeting and events
We verified via user tests that with the new menu people know which menu to choose when they have something in mind. We were also able to get rid of mysterious labels like “Danubius Bubbles Club” and “Adventures Holidays”…and the users were happy with that solution. After all, as we said at the beginning, your menu structure is not a place to promote your brand.
So if you just follow this simple two steps (user interviews and card sorting tests) you’ll be able to organize any information architecture in the future.
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