Last week Thursday I attended the 7th installment of digital agency LBi’s ongoing workshops which have evolved to become a great mingling platform in Dubai to network with other creatives and the complimentary breakfast served by MAKE café is most certainly a bonus.

The focus for the session was “user-centered” design under the title “Defining and translating business goals into meaningful creative experiences”; with a spotlight on how well-known hospitality brand Jumeirah Group translates this into a myriad of touch-points for each of its guests.

Representing the Jumeirah Group was Terry Kane, the brand’s Head of Digital, who used the brand’s recent overhaul of its corporate website to demonstrate how it values its digital presence & how this is linked to measurable business goals for each of its entities. Although, this is not unique to Jumeirah alone – globally, the hospitality industry is probably one of the biggest embracers of digital as critical channel to serve a global audience – as one of our strongest globally recognized local brand, their efforts are impressive.

During the workshop, one of the interesting things Terry revealed was how the biggest determinant of the orientation / experience of the new website both from aesthetics, functionality & intuition is the prospective Jumeirah guest. The group invested a lot of time creating 8 key personas representative of the Jumeirah guest, defined with as much details as possible – for example Mrs. Cvetkovic has 3kids, all teenagers, double income household, lives in Brussels, first time traveler to the Middle East. Another persona – for example: Mrs. Peech, retired, English, wife who regularly organizes annual trips for her husband & herself.

The idea then is that the team then mapped the user journey that each profile would take when navigating the Jumeirah site. For a hotel website, this translates to the route to successfully booking a room & the payment gateway, which elements of the hotel’s services appeal the most – in the case of Jumeirah with a portfolio – for Mrs. Cvetkovic at which stage would you then introduce offers for Wild Wadi? All very interesting, especially when you add in cultures too – how a Saudi guest would prefer to interact with the website versus a North American guest. Personally, I have on occasion, visited to get details on a specific restaurant in say Souk Madinat Jumeirah because I live here I have not had the opportunity to navigate the site as a prospective guest. I can’t quite remember what it looked like before but at first glance, I do quite like the balanced use of clean amazing landscape shots of the brand’s iconic properties which serve as strong ‘hero’ images.

Overall, key takeaways from the session were:

  • Creative formula of success = Partnership + Strategic Focus + Compliance.
  • The partnership between the creative agency and client is key to ensuring a successful project completion.
  • From concept to development always put the user experience at the foremost of your design & content strategy.
  • For a website that serve as the digital window for a complex brand portfolio such as Jumeirah, user experience not only applies to the front-end user (guest) but also the backend user which in most cases is the content editorial team.