Design Critique: UK Luxury Hotels

February 27, 2012
Designers
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This Autumn, where would you like to go?

That’s the opening question for UK Luxury Hotels, and it’s a good one. Because even though I don’t get asked it very often, I definitely think it all the time. Is there a better question to ignite the travel bug found in us? Dream, folks, dream. And then, book a hotel.

Colors

Purple and orange. Yep, that’s right. Purple and orange are their colors. Not really a standard pairing. Personally, I don’t really like the two together. But it did catch my attention. Straying from the typical blue made me feel like this website was special. Not to mention the fact that purple is quite the regal color… guess some 2,000 odd years later, we still have the same color ideas as the Romans.

UK Luxury Hotels Design

Backgrounds

I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of texture in clean/fresh designs. They added a nice “luxury” pattern behind the purple, but also notice that the pattern actually goes straight through that dividing grey line and continues about 150 pixels lower then the purple before fading out. An interesting option for a pattern like that.

The rest of the page continues in a light grey, except for the bottom area… but we’ll get to that later.

Navigation

Richard Saul Wurman, famous for coining the term “Information Architecture”, said that the most important thing to know when developing navigation/organization for information was to know how you wanted people to find the information. Of course, when your audience is some 62 million people (in the UK alone!) that becomes a bit more difficult.

So they incorporated multiple navigational items onto their website. First, you’ve got by area (the drop-down at the top), then by map (for the visual ones – like me!), and then by type (Spa Hotels, Castle Hotels – for those who are looking for a specific experience). And even when you choose a navigational structure (spa hotels), it doesn’t lock you into that. It continues to show the top purple area (albeit it loads the page and moves it automatically down to the information you’re looking for) and the map on the left.

The Hook

I mentioned the great hook at the top of the page “This Autumn, Where would you like to go?”, but if you take a look further down, they’ve got a nice “back-up” hook. For those not ready to book yet they add a signup form for amazing last-minute deals. I love it! I’ve seen tons of articles online about how to create action items and get people to click them, but you rarely see a backup action item that is so well written.

Heck, I live in California and I STILL wanted to sign up, just in case I could someday use a last-minute deal!

The power in both hooks really comes from the way they get into the customer’s head. They put the user’s thoughts down on the page. The first one they approach like a friend would ask – like those “what-if” games from high school – if  you could go anywhere and be anything, what would you do? It opens up the user’s mind and makes you think outside of the normal constraints of work, time, and money.

The second one they approach like they’re doing you a favor; they’re offering you this awesome opportunity to get good deals in your email, with no work from you! Don’t miss out! They even add another way to keep in touch so you “Don’t miss a single thing”. I can do nothing but applaud you, UK Luxury Hotels, nothing but applaud.

UK Luxury Hotels Designm 2

Bottom Bar

I wanted to touch briefly on the bottom bar on this page. I’m seeing this grow increasingly common to have artwork or a picture extend the length of the screen (or fade off, like this one does). It isn’t a typical bottom bar, more of an abbreviation. You’ve only got a contact number and hours to call, not the other information normally found: the address, copyright, developer, etc. I like the picture, but I am a firm believer in bottom bars having the previously mentioned information because the user is expecting it. And when they can’t find it there, it will quickly get frustrating. That being said, the picture is beautiful. Sign me up!

UK Luxury Hotels Design

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