From the moment of arrival at a W Hotel, guests are invited into surprising, sensory environments where amplified entertainment, vibrant lounges, modern guest rooms, and innovative cocktails and cuisine create more than just a hotel experience, but a luxury lifestyle destination. The challenge was to design a site that was as diverse and trendsetting as the hotels it represented.
Webby Awards – 2012 Honoree for Best Home Page
Web Awards – Standard of Excellence
Each hotel and resort is uniquely inspired by its destination, mixing cutting-edge design with local influences and creating a place to play or work by day or to mix and mingle in high-energy spaces by night. Designing a new site for W Hotels needed to reflect all aspects of this lifestyle brand and be flexible enough to do it through a large number of different content sources.
Key learnings from this project
Branded and e-commerce content can coexist
Beautiful design and branded content can co-exist and drive bottom-line revenue alongside search and e-commerce functionality as long as both understand their place in the customer journey.
Build a brand that customers can love and hate
It is a purposefully dramatic statement but a successful brand stands for something strong enough that those who love it are extremely loyal but it also isn’t afraid to not be for everyone.
Create flexible content modules
The home page was created with a dynamic structure that allowed for the modules to display different content and imagery depending on the needs of the brand, promotions, globalization, and more.
A lifestyle brand brought to life in an editorial style
WHotels.com was re-imaged to take the concept of a hotel site in a completely new direction. Unlike every other hotel site, this new version started with the design of a long tail home page with an editorial style that not only highlights W Hotels unique properties worldwide but to also creates a living image of the brand. That image is created using social media to highlight the brands global design, music, and fashion events as well as smart modules that constantly change to provide a fresh experience every time the consumer comes to the home page.
Designed in 9 languages
The site was designed to work in 9 different languages, and with all global social media sites so Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are replaced with Weibo in China.
The proof is in the numbers
The W Hotels site re-design was able to stroke the balance between design, curated content, and business results. This didn’t happen by mistake as the designs went through multiple rounds of customer testing and refinement, which made these results possible.
Higher time on the home page
Lower home page bounce rate
Increase in overall bookings
Increase in new visitor bookings
It comes in compact sizes too
The site was designed to work equally well on desktop and tablets. The long modular layout makes it easy to use and browse on tablets. Smartphones are served the site’s mobile web version, which can be seen here.
I also spent a year designing a mobile web version of the W Hotels site and all 9 Starwood brand sites. This was done because the desktop site was optimized to work on tablets, so the site is served to desktop and tablets while the mobile web version is given to all mobile phones.
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