The Brief

We won a competitive tender in 2014 to work with Kent County Council (KCC) on a new website for Explore Kent, their outdoors tourism promotions team. At the time, Explore Kent just had a one page presence on KCC’s website.

The new site needed to guide users through new opportunities, promoting both health and wellbeing and places to visit in the region to Kent residents, European tourists and the wider UK population travelling to and through Kent.

What we did

Partnered with the internal communications team at KCC we designed and built a vibrant, responsive and engaging solution that creates an opportunity for users to browse, search, or go directly to content that they are seeking about a space, event, activity or place in Kent.

To map or not to map

Within the initial site we launched, we built in a map view straight on the homepage access, with an expectation that users would want and need to see where particular walks or activities and events were geographically, or to search for them via a map view.

After some user engagement sessions, questionnaires, moderated usability studies and lots of analytics, we established that in fact the map is of much lower importance, and whilst helpful, is a secondary necessity.

As a result, through a phased approach to the site development, we launched an iteration of the site with an optional map view.

Making the system do the work

We looked at a variety of options around getting users involved in adding content to the site , create their own trails or walks, bike rides etc, but refined the ideas with the Explore Kent team to keep the usability simple and useful, stripping back some big feature developments to make the system work for the user, rather than making the user do lots of work.

This was founded in the knowledge we had built from the tourism sector - people generally want inspiration, not to have to do lots of work online to find out something or help deciding where to go.

A great tool, for a great county

All in, we built a tool that houses events, articles, general content and activities, and supports the overall aims and strategy of Explore Kent. It allows for embedding of media, trail and track routes as PDF downloads, map integration of activities and more.

Further phases will see some key user enhancements to improve on the experience led from more outcomes of our analytical analysis and moderated user testing as well as the evolving partnerships that the Explore Kent team are cultivating.

Its an exciting time for tourism in Kent and we’re delighted to be part of it!