I am not a huge fan of many hotel website designs. Too often they feel like templates, following the same basic layout and design principals as countless other hotel websites. While there are notable exceptions, we as an industry seem a little stuck in a rut. Advancements in website design have taken a back seat to the development of mobile websites, mobile applications and tablet designs. ALL are very important trends and ones that deserve our attention, I might add. But as an industry, let us not forget the importance of powerful design to extoll the benefits of staying at our properties.
There is a new trend in website design that may get your imagination going. It’s called Parallax scrolling, and it provides new ways to tell a rich and engaging story. Essentially, it asks the user to scroll (gasp) through a website that may only be one page. When going through these examples, it’s important to remember that Parallax scrolling is not being used just to wow the user — it actually does a better job than more traditional design in conveying a story or message.
To get started, a very fun and very topical one-page Parallax design built by Evans Halshaw describes the Bond cars over the years. This site uses layering to effectively transition the user through the different cars.
Porsche utilized wonderfully integrated Parallax scrolling to roll out its new Boxster. A majority of the site is presented on a single page. Throughout the page, users are able to view videos, customize options and explore the inner workings of the car. Calls to action are prevalent, but they do not take the user out of the Porsche experience. Not to be outdone, Mercedes and the Beetle launched their own interpretation of Parallax.
Agencies, always on the forefront of design, have adopted Parallax design with great results. One of my favorites is the Carnation Group. Its site has multiple pages, each using colorful, stunning Parallax design to engage the user and tell its story.
Living in Park City, Utah, I am an avid fan of ski and snowboard videos. “The Art Of Flight” uses Parallax design with great effectiveness, and it just happens to be one of the best snowboard movies out there. While the design is obviously cutting-edge, the site still offers easy-to-use navigation and strong calls to action.
Finally, I was able to track down a hotel website that is using this new methodology. Notice that the standard calls to action — including a booking widget, group RFP and links to packages — are never given a back seat to the design. The Redbury gives us an example of a hotel website that is anything but traditional.
If you are in the market to build a new website in the near future, hopefully some of these examples gave you some ideas. Imagine, for example, a hotel that has a long and rich history utilizing parallax on a page of its site to tell a chronological story, complete with historical photos and video. Or an amenity-rich resort that wants to give visitors a feeling for the variety of experiences on property. Parallax could be used to introduce each of the amenities with great storytelling and strong visuals.
Design, when properly implemented, can help elevate and celebrate the unique qualities of a hotel or resort. For website designers in 2013, Parallax will be the tool that takes their design to the next level.