World of Cruising

Transforming a news focused website into a Cruise Booking site whilst retaining it's news presence and magazine subscription model.

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Project overview

World of Cruising are on a mission to change the Cruise market place. By providing visitors with a content guided approach to choosing a cruise, World of Cruising aims to cut the time and complication it takes to find the right cruise, for you.

Recognising the difficulties that you can have when booking a cruise for the first time or indeed booking a cruise of a type that is new to you, World of Cruising want to help you make informed decisions about what type of cruise you want to go on by launching a new way to source cruise information and surface the right cruise to book.

The combination of their superb content and sheer depth of industry knowledge meant that we could take a deep dive into the cruise booking sector and see about disrupting the major players in the market with them!

www.worldofcruising.co.uk

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Project objectives

To differentiate ourselves in the market, we wanted to lean on years of great cruise content created for cruise aficionados in the magazine itself and the deep product and market knowledge of the stakeholders in the business.

The existing Wordpress website wasn't going to be capable of the requirements to this project, so our first task was to migrate all content from the existing site into a new system and design an SEO migration strategy to go with it.

The challenge was to combine a news centric product with the new cruise booking product as well as the magazine subscription and support the commercials we would need to turn this site into a highly profitable venture. We had to go away and design the UX and look and feel to support all three products and support a customer journey that made sure that customers could achieve either of the 3 potential objectives.

Design and UX

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1) The Challenge/Goal identification

The design & UX challenge was to integrate what is effectively 3 sites/products into one where there are multiple potential customer journeys for 3 distinct purposes which are all important to the business.

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2) Research

We conducted Interviews with key stakeholders around their own frustrations with their competitors which were of high value in this project. We knew that their depth of industry knowledge would help quickly identify the weaknesses in the existing offerings and led us to create the baseline requirements.

User interviews were then conducted to confirm our research at this point and build our understanding of what was needed to define the right user journeys for our target audiences, information points and style of look and feel that would give the visitor a positive interaction.

3) Persona building and customer journey mapping

User personas were built to represent the core user types we have and to work out how to solve their cruise finding problems.

To map out the Customer journeys, we mapped out the 3 different products and what user types we would be supporting for each and how we would get them from their entry point to the target destination.

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4) Design

As this was a fast paced project with a very short delivery time frame, We skipped pure wire-framing and produced basic concepts of the designs at an early stage to collect feedback and keep the project on track.

Sitemaps, user flows, images and icons and colours were developed and the World of Cruising team were invited into our design tool "Figma" so that they could give feedback as we progressed, helping to validate our decisions and pass on certain elements to teams within the company to provide feedback on.

Once we had broad agreement on the layouts, look and feel and we had buy in on the adherence to the brand guidelines, we were able to start the development in parallel with the rest of the fleshing out of the designs.

Development phase

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CraftCMS Build

The existing website was doing a good job of allowing their visitors to read the digital version of the information published in the print magazine, but it was not going to be up to the job here, so we chose Craft CMS to power this large scale project. With a combination of a best in class content authoring experience and the power of the "under the hood" feature set to allow us to extend the system where needed, it was the obvious choice.

With content sections for the cruises themselves alongside the content building features for the sites core pages such as the informational pages and the news & features sections, it meant that we can enable the content team to be able to pull in cruise information into their rich content and showcase the cruises themselves with powerful filtering options to help build user journeys that take users from the content entry points into the cruises themselves or into the cruise search itself!

As Craft CMS allows us to have the cruise search data sit transparently alongside the content for the rest of the site, it makes for an incredibly powerful setup for us and really allows us to implement new features with speed and ease.

There are a myriad of features that go into making this project work and we are doing it all via Craft:

With new features and growth happening at a rapid pace, we are confident Craft can handle anything that is thrown at it.

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Cruise search engine

Whilst solving the problem of how to allow people to search for cruises and then filter them to find what they need is a complex task to say the least, it's the commercials considerations that need to be woven into the overall functionality that make this a very interesting problem to solve. From sponsored listings to priority ordering of results and all the other types of commercials partner support that can go into a site of this size, the cruise search was a very complex component to design and build overall.

The challenge is to design and build something which pulls in cruises with our own base pricing and layer in partner cruise pricing where our partners can add value with special deals and discounts. We show itineraries plotted on a map along with rich information on each of those destinations to support the decision making process, ship information, prices on the different room types and much more.

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Migration from previous CMS and technical SEO work

Technically, migrating from one content management system to another isn't too difficult as we have done it many many times, however the real challenge lies in designing and executing a strong SEO setup and making sure that the processes required for that are correct.

Their existing sites content structure had to be reworked from a flat content hierarchy to a well structured, clear content groupings led approach to assist with the overall SEO content strategy. A lot of time in spreadsheets at the outset of the project paid dividends and we were able to setup the redirects to ensure we lost no page value in the transfer.

Problems we solved when migrating:

We pulled in the content from the existing website, cleaned it, restructured it and transferred across all of it's images to the new site.

Finally, post import / migration analysis is key and we ran the site through a variety of our SEO tools to make sure we had everything set and any remaining issues were resolved.

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E-commerce

The very core of the World of Cruising brand is it's beautifully designed and feature packed print magazine which provides regular rich engaging content to their loyal customer base.

To push the increase in subscribers, a full featured e-commerce system is implemented that lets visitors quickly and simply subscribe to the magazine for a subscription term of their choice.

Behind the scenes, we have integrated with their publishing house that handles the physical magazine delivery, and we deliver the subscriber information to them seamlessly.

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API integrations

To keep the Cruise Search engine running with up to the date cruise information, we have partnered with a company offering a data rich API of cruise information with depth of detail on cruise ships, destinations, pricing and facilities.

Writing the code is only one half of the story, we have built up a strong knowledge of the ins and outs of cruise data and the cruise industry and we have developed a suite of processes to consume and integrate the updated cruise data into our search engine and make sure that we have up-to-date information our visitors can rely on.

Whilst we have the core cruise data we have also integrated data feeds from each of our partners to pull in their own cruise dals and add them into our cruise results. The outcome is a rich cruise search that gives the visitors options on who they book their cruise with, that offers them the best price and greatest value.

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Partner tracking

Making sure that we are able to provide the visitor information needed to our partners, we implemented a visitor anonymous tracking system that logs the visitor jump off points to our partners, filters out web crawl "bots" and cuts out duplication.

We are able to provide accurate reporting back to partners on the effectiveness of their relationship with us, how visitors are finding them and basic information such as the country of origin of the visitors also.

Accurate reporting and the ability to feed back performance of the commercial partnerships we have is paramount to the success of a site of this nature.

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Advertising Platform

Revenue via advertising is an important revenue stream supporting the initial launch of the site. It has to be a well considered feature to make sure that the visual quality and loading speed of the website aren't reduced by the type of adverts delivered. By implementing an enterprise standard advert serving platform we are able to deliver contextual and relevant advertising to the site visitors from our carefully selected industry partners.

From a technical viewpoint, staff can manage the whole process and we can support myriad advert types including full page takeovers, video and third party system adverts. We are able to inject cruise / content section specific data into the adverts themselves to enable intelligent advert delivery based on the content of the individual page/section/cruise or indeed data on the specific cruise such as operator or destination.

Outcome

We planned and executed our user journeys and designed a vibrant and brand conscious look and feel to support visitors to this content driven cruise search engine that is a growing revenue source for the business. And it all happened on a travel focused website in the middle of a global pandemic.

News can be read, cruises can be found, magazines can be bought and visitors have access to a vast wealth of cruise information to help them make informed decisions on their next cruise journey!

What's next

A website of this size and scope is only at the start of it's journey at it's initial launch. The team here have been working hard on the World of Cruising site with the World of Cruising team ever since launch on refining and improving what we built, as well as implementing new features driven by what we are finding out about our visitors and how they find what they need.

We are now helping hire and build an internal dev team as the whole business transitions into a digital first company and we are still building and designing but now also operating in a consultancy capacity whilst working on the higher level architectural goals of the whole business and assisting with planning and strategy.

It's been a great journey together with the World of Cruising team, and we are all looking ahead to the big plans for entering internation markets in the years ahead.

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