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So fresh and so clean…


Posted by Andrew Buckon May 18, 2015

So fresh and so clean (clean)...
 -Outkast 

Growth is, more often than not, a good thing. It's a blessing in disguise that most of us can no longer fit into our clothes from the 1990s. But when an organization undergoes a major growth spurt, they're often left with an outdated website that doesn't reflect their new, larger, more powerful identity. 

Four years ago, the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (THLA) was the fourth-largest state hotel association in the country. Today, it's number one. As such, it had outgrown its website and, like Bongo jeans and Starter jackets, was ready to retire the old TexasLodging.com and do a complete redesign...

The Challenge

The thing about websites for large associations is: they have to work. Visitors end up on association websites because they are on a mission to find helpful info. THLA had a wealth of fantastic resources for its members -- legal consulting, financial info, vendor reviews and savings, events, updates on advocacy efforts, etc. -- but nobody could find anything. The navigation didn't properly reflect how people really used the website.

But that's not all! With its sudden growth, THLA was poised to offer new-and-improved tools to its members. Their old "members only" login system was a beast to manage. The "search for lodging" tool was equally finicky, further frustrating users. 

And last but not least: design. THLA noticed two things. First, the old site just looked far more drab than the organization really was. (After all, THLA has a perfect batting record in its legislative advocacy efforts!) And second, other state and national associations had websites that looked like traffic jams -- packed with links, text, banner ads, etc. 

The Solution

The first step in any TradeMark project is Discovery. As the name suggests, we want to uncover everything we can about your organization. We want to know your goals, your challenges, your digital dreams. We want to know how things work now and how you'd like them to change. We ask approximately 1.2 bajillion questions. We do market and competitive analyses. 

After performing Discovery with THLA, a theme emerged: fresh and clean. This approach informed not just the visual design -- which, as you can see in the screenshots above, is indeed both fresh and clean -- but also the site's architecture. Remember, visitors come to association websites to learn and do. Building on our experience with countless other association sites, we would build a website that made those tasks as easy and helpful possible. 

Beyond the "fresh and clean" approach, there was plenty of technical heavy-lifting to perform:

  • We built a seamless integration with a third-party platform, allowing THLA visitors to search that vast database of lodging options directly from the homepage.
  • We constructed an account login (aka, "members only" section) that is simple to manage for both THLA and members.
  • We performed an SEO optimization -- including URL redirects
  • We installed a "fresh and clean" calendar tool that allows simple event listing and registration.

We're excited to launch TexasLodging.com on behalf of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association because we think its exemplifies the best of our approach to Web design and development: smart, principled, powerful, and fresh. 

And hey, if you're planning a trip anywhere in the Lone Star State, surf on over and use TexasLodging.com to find a perfect spot. (Just be sure to leave the Girbeau jeans behind.) 

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