Gold Coast Airport
Gold Coast Airport had an outdated website. It was not responsive, relying on a standalone mobile site that did not reflect much of the content present on the main site. The main site was busy and difficult to navigate, and did not represent the airport’s intrinsic qualities or the experience provided once on the ground.
GCA’s website belied their progressive endeavours and lacked the appropriate gravitas that their new branding personified. Our task was to transform their online presence and manifest their position amidst the very best of international airports.
Some specifications for the build included:
- Increase engagement on site
- Improve conversion rate (e.g. flights, car rental, parking)
- Highlight GCA as a modern international airport
- Promote community involvement
- Condense and organise existing content
- Third-party app integration inc. flight information, parking etc
- Dynamic and engaging areas for announcements and advertising
- Back end to be robust, flexible and easy for selected staff to use
- Reinforce the new brand; ensure that all material speaks with one voice
- Discrete sections based on type of user: Travellers / Corporate / Commercial / Japanese / Chinese
The Solution (a journey begins)
In order to produce a website that encompassed the above we needed to lean upon our pre-existing familiarity with the airport while leveraging our expertise in enterprise UX and UI design. The combination of these factors proved pivotal as we advanced towards the final product, as we were often able to pre-empt potential pitfalls.
As the first (and last) touchpoint for many who travel to the Gold Coast, GCA’s online presence needed to meet the needs of travellers while also catering to other stakeholders. With this in mind, the new website build provided an opportunity to go beyond the expected flight information feed and relatively dry reporting and communications.
Together with GCA we audited the existing site’s content; cataloging, updating and discarding as needed. By examining what was left we were able to identify and define what would become the more granular areas of the site. This content-driven approach allowed us to quickly establish order and hierarchy from what was a complex collection of pages, articles, documents and promotions.
Designing for the User
With our blueprint in hand we could then focus on the user journey. We created personas to imitate the motivations of our key users, seeking answers to questions such as:
- What are all the ways you would use the website?
- What do you want to achieve when you visit the website?
- What bugs you about the current website?
- What kind of information would interest you?
By unpacking the resulting answers and juxtaposing these with our content blueprint, the decision was made to separate the site into three sections:
- Commercial and Property
Research and The Greater Good
The site's separate areas aligned nicely with our three main demographics, yet having all three sections vying for attention on the home page was an unpleasant prospect! It was clear that we had some decisions to make regarding prominence, placement and accessibility.
This led us down two main research paths:
Google Analytics: site statistics
Current site statistics confirmed our suspicions that the majority of users visited the site in order to check flight statuses. While substantial traffic was recorded elsewhere on the site, it was nowhere near the sheer amount of users invested in seeking out this data.
A competitor review across other international airport websites revealed a common approach to the problem of segmenting the site. In all cases the consumer-facing segment took pride of place; in fact to most users this would appear to be the only segment of the site. The status quo was to tuck these secondary sections away such that they were unobtrusive yet clearly visible to the trained observer.
It was clear that the site should be built with these insights in mind. While it would be a shame not to give the Corporate and Commercial sections as prominence, part of prioritising content involves making sacrifices in order to achieve wider objectives. In this case we now had more room to achieve key points in the brief, particularly in terms of brand positioning and user engagement.
We employed wireframing techniques to quickly establish some layout ideas. The true strength of wireframes lies in the fact that they're quick, they're disposable and they encourage creative thinking. After all, it's far easier to be daring when the stakes are low and the cost of starting over is 5 minutes and a sheet of paper!
We iterated a few times in this phase before we felt we had something that captured the essence of our end goal - a user-friendly, highly functional website that would showcase and expand the brand experience.
In short order we had secured sign-off from the client. It was time to progress to high-fidelity mockups.
Accessibility was a concern; beyond utilising WCAG guidelines, we needed to account for the fact that a large proportion of the site’s users may not speak English fluently.
Our response was to deploy a rich and varied suite of icons to indicate key areas of interest, each one distinct to the subject matter it represents. These visual cues are applied liberally throughout the site, conveying meaning in addition to text-based prompts.
Wayfinding and Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a vital mainstay of most websites, thanks to their ability to quickly orient a user, providing feedback on their journey.
Stepping beyond breadcrumbs, we also present the user with persistent, relevant navigation based on their current location. This has proven to promote a successful journey across the site and its individual sections.
My role in the project was a significant one, providing input at every stage of the rollout; from initial concepts and prototyping through design and development.
In the planning phase I was called upon to provide insight into the core structure of the site, ensuring UX standards were upheld and content hierarchy was optimal.
I also provided the entirety of the page template designs in lead up to development, determining the look of the site from top to bottom.
Not one to settle for lacklustre performance, I also applied server-side optimisations and caching, as well as implementing security measures to better protect the site from unwanted guests.