Marriott.com breaks the mold...

15 Dec 2009 - 3:34pm
2 years ago
15 replies
1164 reads
Paul Sherman
2006

...for hotels, at least.

I just browsed over to http://www.marriott.com/default.mi to make a room reservation, and was pleasantly surprised at their new home page.

I'd love to hear the story behind the design. But it'd be great to hear the community weigh in as well.

-Paul

- - - - - - -
Paul Sherman, Principal, ShermanUX
User Experience Research | Design | Strategy
paul at ShermanUX.com
www.ShermanUX.com
+1.512.917.1942
- - - - - - -

Comments

15 Dec 2009 - 4:06pm
Anonymous

Good design. Interesting, clear, understandable, fun...overall delight!

15 Dec 2009 - 4:24pm
Anonymous

I love it. We're seeing so much mimicry in website design these days,
it's great to see a site be creative and original. I hope it is
successful for them.

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15 Dec 2009 - 4:47pm
John Gibbard
2008

Great spot, this is genuinely innovative for the sector and scale of
their brand. Would love to hear the stories behind the design and the
success/otherwise of the implementation.

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15 Dec 2009 - 5:11pm
Francis Rowland
2009

Yep, interesting approach to squeezing all that stuff on screen.
I will play devil's advocate, though...

Not so delightful when you turn off JavaScript.
Yes, it still functions, but some of the display is broken - not at
all what I would call graceful degrade.

Imagine you're a PA, making a booking for your boss on this website
from within your corporate network, where systems support insist on
having JS disabled (it does happen, right?)...

That huge long form on the left is quite daunting, and the feature
boxes are all over the place and difficult to read.

Probably not the user experience Marriott are aiming for in that
case.

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16 Dec 2009 - 12:43am
MJ Broadbent
2010

Can't speak to the online experience but Mark Hurst (Good Experience)
recently interviewed Brian King (Courtyard Marriott VP and Global
Brand Manager) about the in-person customer experience and wrote
about it here:

http://goodexperience.com/2009/09/interview-with-brian.php

Cheers,
MJ

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16 Dec 2009 - 1:23am
Dimiter Simov
2006

The homepage looks like something one could remember - it is different,
interesting, colorful, interactive, slick... The cards are partially hidden,
so you want to click them to see the whole picture. The cards move a bit
when you point them, which increases their clickability. It all looks nice.

There are a few things, though, I would question:
1) Why would there be two items called meeting & events?
2) The cards hide content - maybe that's not that bad if the card titles are
on the spot - however, you have to actively bring a card to the front to see
what it offers
3) The white color texts are hard to read against the light colored card
backgrounds.
4) The links are hard to find - you have to hunt for them
5) The font on the Find card is sooo tiny - hard to read
6) The strange band below the cards - most of the content is hidden most of
the time, you have to click the arrows to rotate elements
7) The strange band below the cards - you point an item in the middle - it
enlarges, so now your mouse is between the text and the icon - you click,
and nothing happens - you have to move the mouse to follow the link

Possibly a bug: If you expand a section in the find card, the other cards
stop moving when you point them?

Dimiter Simov
Lucrat Ltd. www.lucrat.net
Netage Solutions Inc. www.netagesolutions.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Paul
Sherman
Sent: Tue, Dec 15, 2009 22:35
To: Forum Interaction Design Ixda
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Marriott.com breaks the mold...

...for hotels, at least.

I just browsed over to http://www.marriott.com/default.mi to make a room
reservation, and was pleasantly surprised at their new home page.

I'd love to hear the story behind the design. But it'd be great to hear the
community weigh in as well.

-Paul

- - - - - - -
Paul Sherman, Principal, ShermanUX
User Experience Research | Design | Strategy
paul at ShermanUX.com
www.ShermanUX.com
+1.512.917.1942
- - - - - - -

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16 Dec 2009 - 5:47pm
jrubero
2009

Nice attention to detail, Dimiter. I noticed the exact same things you did, although item #5 didn't bother me at all.

Cheers,
Jason

15 Dec 2009 - 5:57pm
damerms
2009

- Is it me or is the white text hard to read?
- Does anyone else expect individual links for Grand openings like
they have for Hot Deals.
- I like different. I assume they don't care two much about SEO &
usability.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Dec 2009 - 12:06am
Krystal Higgins
2008

I think the design, although not without some issues, is nice and
scalable. I took a look at the versions for other countries, and
they did a pretty good job ensuring that content would be drafted and
localized to accommodate, instead of overflow, the space. And the
solutions for countries like Brazil, where there's only one real
piece of content bucket, scaled down well also.

Of course, I can't personally read the international content, so I
wonder if any of that has been hard-truncated instead of drafted to
fit.

Being a Marriott member, I found the addition of the quick-access
account controls in the upper right corner to be much easier to find
and manage than the controls from the previous site. It's handy
that the menu remains expanded over the cards instead of collapsing
immediately on mouseout. Only gripe: The use of both a minus icon
and a close icon to collapse the panel. Seem to do the same thing,
and just confused me at first (was worried the "X" would sign me
out or something, seeing that there was already a collapse icon).

BTW Dimiter, #7: didn't even see that before, nice catch.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Dec 2009 - 2:09am
Eric Reiss
2007

Nice site. And for once, a hotel actually trys to show pictures of the
rooms, which is great.

Not-so-great is the usability. Links are small and hard to spot. Most are
black text within black text. Finding the > View details stuff for rooms can
be tricky.

But the overall effect is good.

Perhaps I missed something, but how did Marriott break the mold? By putting
together a sexy java-based homepage instead of a more conventional gallery?
The booking engine is pretty standard, the content is pretty standard. They
maintain their blog, but I couldn't care less about a Marriott blog - when I
go to a hotel website, I want to know about rates, availability, and any
discounts they'll extend.

Although I like the site, it didn't exactly make me pee in my pants. So tell
me why I should be impressed.

Cheers,

Eric

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CEO
The FatDUX Group
Copenhagen, Denmark
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17 Dec 2009 - 8:28am
Paul Sherman
2006

@Eric Reiss: "How did Marriott break the mold?"
Me: Sometimes you just gotta go with the catchy subject line. I was (briefly) a journalist in the 80's. Those instincts die hard.

@Eric: "It didn't exactly make me pee in my pants. So tell me why I should be impressed."
Me: 1. Thank goodness for that, and 2. Hey, it was good for a nice little discussion thread. Just something to talk about. Also note I didn't use the subject line "You will be impressed at Marriott.com's home page", so I never made that particular claim. Yeah, it was probably implicit. I can see your point there.

My point was that the design differentiates Marriott from its competitors in a small but real way. And given that Marriott plays an industry that is widely seen as commoditized - at least when you get to the level of the big hotel chains catering to the business traveller - this design goes in the "win" column.

Of course I'll never know how the design has affected key performance metrics. But I am assuming that Marriott wouldn't launch this design without a good amount of A/B/multi testing, so they must have a handle on how it has impacted KPM's.

-Paul

- - - - - - -
Paul Sherman, Principal, ShermanUX
User Experience Research | Design | Strategy
paul at ShermanUX.com
www.ShermanUX.com
+1.512.917.1942
- - - - - - -

17 Dec 2009 - 9:02am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Dec 17, 2009, at 8:28 AM, Paul Sherman wrote:

> My point was that the design differentiates Marriott from its
> competitors in a small but real way.

Actually, the home page change is not particularly significant. Having
spent many hours of my life watching people book hotel reservations, I
can tell you that this change isn't significant at all. My bets would
be that few, if any non-designer users, would notice the change. I'm
also betting that it has very little effect on customer brand
engagement, because, in our research brand engagement comes from total
service delivery, not any single page's design.

> And given that Marriott plays an industry that is widely seen as
> commoditized - at least when you get to the level of the big hotel
> chains catering to the business traveller - this design goes in the
> "win" column.

Show me proof. I've got lots of data that says that is unlikely.

Don't get me wrong. It's a neat design with cool moving parts. But, if
you look at the total experience that a Marriott customer has
(particularly biz travelers), this one page (which is the only snazzy
part of the redesign) is truly insignificant.

If you want to look at pages that will have an impact, I'd look at the
subsequent two pages: the search results page and the property details
page. Travel shoppers spend more than 10 times as much time and energy
on those pages in a given session than they do on the home page.
That's where the meat of the online portion of the experience is.

And it's all balanced by what happens at the property. If the hotel
stay is great, it doesn't matter what the web site experience was -
brand engagement will strengthen. And if the hotel stay is crappy,
brand engagement will weaken, no matter how slick the online booking
experience was.

So, if Marriott is looking to move out of a commodity viewpoint,
particularly with frequent travelers, the home page is the least
likely way that will happen.

> Of course I'll never know how the design has affected key
> performance metrics. But I am assuming that Marriott wouldn't launch
> this design without a good amount of A/B/multi testing, so they must
> have a handle on how it has impacted KPM's.

Be careful what you assume. That's all I can say at this time.

Jared

18 Dec 2009 - 1:44pm
Anonymous

Overall, I like the redesign. Most hotel websites try to get fancy
with lots of circulating pictures or quick video clips, and I find it
very distracting. I like how Marriott's website is simple and
directly supports the goal of simply wanting to book a hotel room
without anything getting in the way or drawing your attention away
from the task at hand.

However, I think the homepage would be more successful if the menu
rotated around in a circle instead of just moving up and down. That
way, when you chose a different section of the site, let's say
Packages, the Packages section of the menu would come forward and
then you could see the featured package or 2 of the day.

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21 Dec 2009 - 10:07am
Ken Kellogg
2009

Thanks for the picks and pans. When you get right down to it, the homepage and navigation redesign goals were to simplify a traditional homepage and better serve a small, but extremely valuable segment of our guests %u2013 while not causing harm to our key segment %u2013 frequent business travelers.

As usual, the key pieces were putting guest needs (we believe we are a user-centered design shop after all) together with the business needs of Marriott, then creating several concepts and iterating until the team was satisfied with the look and functionality of the home page. Now, we are watching our metrics and conversion rate (which are ticking up) and implementing our optimization strategy with MVT.

Of course we are aware that the new home page is not perfect. Success is never final, and we will keep working at executing against any and all issues. That being said, we, and our senior leadership, are very pleased with performance against our success criteria at this time.

One thing to note: this is the first phase of the three-phase strategy to rebuild Marriott.com. As the esteemed Mr Spool commented, the internal pages, starting with search results, will be very important for us. And this phase will be coming soon.

Thank you all for your interest! We feel like we are in a good place when our work is recognized and commented on (both pros and cons) by our peers and counterparts!

18 Nov 2011 - 12:26am
3t
2011

I think they miss the point entirely.  When I visit a hotel website I want to feel like I can't wait to run into the room and jump into the bed.  That doesn't happen when this page loads.  I'm asked to take time to fill out a form with several fields before I feel interested in staying at the hotel.  This is a ux issue. 

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