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Travelocity Com S Homepage Lessons To Be Learnt

Rated 3.21 (Ratings: 7)

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Luc Carton

Member info

User since: 01 Feb 2002

Articles written: 3

5.77 out of 10:

that's the score eShopability has given's

new site (version of February 8, 2002).

Length, width and size

The site uses

the liquid layout technique, which enables the page to automatically adapt itself

in width to the screen resolution used by the visitor.

This is an interesting

technique, since it optimizes the way the page is displayed no matter what screen

resolution the visitor uses.

However, the structure

of the homepage has be constructed with great care to ensure that the display

maintains a certain coherence with all resolutions and guides the user's eye

to the parts of the page the site wants him to look at.

This is where

Travelocity's new homepage

makes its first big mistake.

The automatic

repositioning of the elements has a disastrous effect here when a resolution

of 800x600 pixels (the most common) is used: a large empty space appears to

the right of the search engine, which unbalances the right-hand side of the

page and greatly reduces its effectiveness.

Screenshot of Travelocity homepage

800x600 resolution

Screenshot of Travelocity homepage

1024x768 resolution

Another point

to be mentioned on the technical side is that, at 129KB,'s homepage

is clearly too big: it takes 36 seconds to download it with a 28.8 kbps modem,

which is much too long for a homepage.

This is due to

the length of the page - 1420 pixels - meaning that the user with a screen resolution

of 800x600 pixels has to scroll down 4 screens to get to the bottom of the page.


elements ... not very visible

This brings us

to Travelocity's second big mistake: with a 800x600 resolution, its special

offers and deals - in fact, all the categories except for the search engine

- are only visible from the second vertical screen onwards and stretch over

3 screens lengthwise.

From the

2nd vertical screen onwards, all the merchandising elements (Fare watcher,

flight deals, etc.) are displayed more or less in the center of the page,

and are stuck between a menu on the right and a column on the left that,

like the top part of the screen, includes a huge empty space (more than

half its surface).


with a 800x600 resolution, when you scroll down from the second screen,

you can't help noticing that the elements are placed not only in three

columns of different widths, but also at varying heights in each column,

making it extremely tiring to read the page.

The elements in

the three columns are not separated clearly enough, the gray lines between the

different areas are too faint to create a clear division between the categories.

It follows that, on this part of the page, there is no clear eye-path.

This means that

users will look at it in an unfocused way, which greatly reduces its effectiveness.

It should also

be noted that only one photo, and a rather small one at that (100x80 pixels),

is used to help sell the products on the page.


they seem think that they will be able to get users dreaming about taking a

trip simply by presenting it to them in text format …

To finish with

the merchandising aspect, we also noted that new products are found right at

the bottom of the page - 1150 pixels down from the top: bravo to the users who

scroll right down to the 4th screen to find them!


site's online identity: quality and clarity

A certain number

of elements enter into the equation here: logo, tag line, window title, favicon.ico,


Although the logo

is fine (except that it hasn't been changed the site was first created, and

hasn't aged very well), putting "A Sabre Company" under the

name as a kind of tag line, is not, in my opinion, a very bright idea commercially.

Although all travel agents know what Sabre is, I'm not convinced that the majority

of visitors do.

The site's real

tag line is, in fact, only displayed in the window title: "

- Go Virtually Anywhere! Airline Tickets, Hotels, Cars, Vacations and Cruises."

And when we look

at the window title, we can see that the site has made another mistake: it's

too long!

Window titles

should be limited to 64 characters so that they can be displayed in full when

users bookmark the page. As you can see in the image below, the tag line is

cut off after the word "Cars":

One positive point,

though, is that the site uses a favicon.ico file reproducing its logo, as you

can see in the image. In addition, the title starts with the name of the site,

another positive point.


engine - navigation

Search engines

are one of the key elements on an eTourism homepage. However, some of the sites

in the sector put several search features (flights, vacations, cars, etc), on

their homepages, with the result that they crowd up the page.

has found a very intelligent way of getting round the problem: on its homepage

it only offers a search feature for flights, and lets users access 5 other search

engines - lodging, cars/rail, vacations, cruises and deals - simply by clicking

on the tabs to the left of the search feature.

The tabs, with

their highly visible pictograms, stand out well on the page. They allow users

to access not just the corresponding search engine, but also the main page for

that category.

The choice of

displaying one search engine at a time, and combining it with navigation functions,

is an idea to worth remembering.

It is also worth

noting that the site's main navigation features are all found on these tabs;

the top menu bar is just a mirror reflection of the tabs.


relation elements - almost nonexistent

No phone number,

no chat feature, no email address on the homepage.

To contact the

site, you have to go through the "Customer Care" category (which changes

its name, moreover, in the footer menu at the bottom of the page, where it is

called "Customer Service"...) and search through an extremely dense

page (3 and a half screens long!) to find what you're looking for.

Similarly, if

you want to subscribe one of the newsletters offered by the site (Travelocity

real deals and Travelocity Insider), there is no way of doing this on the homepage.

Not only that, but before you can actually subscribe to them, you have to become

a Travelocity member.

And, while we're

on the subject, nowhere on the site does it mention how often the newsletters

are sent out.

To sum up then,

this is a homepage with rather limited eShop-ability capacities (ability to

convert browsers into buyers), that only manages to achieve a slightly above

average score (5.77 out of 10) because its search engine is well-presented and

intelligently combined with navigation functions.

Apart from that,

we found that, out of the 160 criteria we use to judge the quality of homepages

(see our study "Homepages

that sell
"), nearly half were unsatisfactory.

All in all, a

rather surprising and disappointing result for one of the world leaders in the


Luc Carton

Luc Carton
Author of Homepages that sell
Phone: 331 45 45 15 22
Fax: 331 53 01 32 68

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