Techknow: State of the art - Tourism

Techknow: State of the art - Tourism - I built California's primary tourism web site, so trust me on this: no business-communication task is more challenging than creating a travel site. Tourism brochures online must both entice and advise, through the ju

by HUNTER MADSEN, hmadsen@improvenet.com

I built California's primary tourism web site, so trust me on this: no business-communication task is more challenging than creating a travel site. Tourism brochures online must both entice and advise, through the judicious integration of gorgeous photographs (which can slow page downloads) and exactingly, abundantly informative text. Travel site pages are usually assembled on the fly, from gargantuan and continuously updated databases of location and service descriptions, maps, phone numbers, prices, event listings and hyperlinks fed into the system from thousands of notoriously unreliable, techno-wobbly local merchants. Consistency and coherence often elude such compound sites.

With this in mind, we can admire and learn from www.host.co.uk, the obscurely named home page for the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, which does many things well. Lavish photos, succinct text, streaming video, and jaunty Gaelic audio clips make the most of the medium's ability to sell, yet the site remains speedy - if at times confusing - to navigate. The confusion stems from inclusion of alluring photo-links ('Castles', 'Wildlife') on the front page that don't actually link to promised content. This is a cardinal sin of both web design and tourism: if you want travellers to come back, laddies, never post a road sign that goes nowhere.

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