My team and I worked for over a year to completely re-design the mobile websites for all nine of their global hotel brands, including Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels. The challenge was to bring all the functionality and branding of the full desktop search and booking experience to a mobile device.
Behance – App Design Served
This process was difficult because it required a lot of work to simplify the search and booking processes for this new form factor. The design challenge was to create a new template system that could be re-used across all nine brands so all the sites could be launched in a while but needed to be flexible enough, so the experiences were differentiated and just as brand-enhancing as their desktop counterparts.
Key learnings from this project
Never assume you know consumer behavior
When we launched the mobile sites we assumed that consumer booking behavior would be the same as on our desktop sites. We quickly saw the wrong as they rarely booked beyond 10 days before a stay.
Templates can be beautiful when you put in the work
This was only possible because of the great partnership between our design, engineering, and product teams who were able to work with and push each other throughout the development process.
Globalization is more than just languages
We expanded out globalization work beyond but translations to include imagery, page design, and much more which had a huge impact on global conversion.
10 distinct sites, 1 template
One of the greatest challenges with this project was that since we had to re-design all nine branded sites, we needed to find efficiencies through the use of templates to launch all the sites within the project timelines. But we didn’t want to use simple templates where the personality and content of each brand would be diluted, so we spent a lot of time working to create templates that could be visually strong and unique. The final result was a template that we could skin using different colors, fonts, photos, and content to make them each appear unique even when we did something guests never would do and line them up all side by side.
Search results reimagined
One of the most critical parts of all of these sites is the search path. It is how guests find and book our properties and it had to be rethought to work on a mobile device. This meant refining every piece of content and completely rethinking how the search results would be displayed. Each search result was broken down into a card and a lot of work was done to make sure the visual hierarchy on those cards was clear and simple so users could easily find what they wanted.
GLOBAL HOTEL SEARCH
Not everyone searches the same way
One of the things we have learned is to really pay attention to global usability patterns, as you will find that not every culture uses the same device the same way. For instance, our search flow is very different in several foregone markets, especially Asia, where we see guests are much more like to arrive at a destination without a hotel booked. This means that there is a much higher need for ‘near me’ same-day searches, and as a result, you will see that the search flow for those languages reflects that user behavior.
Branding made mobile
Bringing branding into the mobile world has always been extremely difficult. Branded experiences need photos, videos, and unique typefaces while mobile design demands simplicity, speed, and focus. So designing the brand essence sections of each of Starwood’s nine brands was a real challenge that took a lot of thought as here again, we needed to create one template that could work for all nine brands. The final result was a highly visual solution that let the visual language of each brand shine through, and as the user went deeper into the experience more content was revealed to immerse them in the brand and its programming.
Big content in a small space
One of the main goals of the mobile sites was to bring as much content from the desktop sites in these mobile experiences. But this also meant that we questioned long-held conventions to create the best experience possible. The content was audited, edited, rewritten, and condensed to create the most robust yet most streamlined experience possible.
Created in 9 languages
In addition to creating 10 mobile websites, we also launched sites in 9 different languages. This meant more than just translating content but also making cultural usability changes to the sites for guests in Russia and Asia who heavily favor the same-day searches would have a different search experience than guests in Europe and America. The sites were launched in English, Deutsch, Russian, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese.