Student Travel

The trip of a lifetime

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THE CUSTOMER

Student Travel is one of the leading travel agencies in Romania. It specializes in cultural exchange programs for youth and students. 

The company is on the market since 1999, with 14 offices throughout every major city in the country and working with over 5000 students every year. They solidified their position in the market as one of the most professional cultural exchange travel agencies in the country.

THE CHALLENGE

We were approached by Student Travel back in October 2018. Their wish was to redesign and restructure their website in order to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive market. This wish stemmed from three main pains they had at the time:

RESTRUCTURING THE PROGRAMS

Student Travel offers 9 different programs, including cultural exchange programs in the US, UK, New Zealand and European countries. The “Work and Travel USA” program is by far the most successful, driving most of the revenue. However, the program wasn’t properly highlighed on the website.

Experience focused

The website was heavily based on informing its users about the necessary steps needed to apply, documents and other information. However, it was lacking the “experience” and “why” aspects of the trip, needed to attract even more applicants.

apply easily

The apply process was a plain form, with over 10 fields, proving quite intimidating to fill all at once. Furthermore, all the entries were sent to the headquarters email address, and had to be manually redirected to each city’s office email address. This had to be done manually by an employee.

In-Person Meetings

Throughout the length of the project, we had several in-person meetings at the client’s headquarters. We started with a couple meetings to better understand the scope of the project, as well as the existing client’s branding. These meetings provided a good starting point for the project. Once we moved into the actual design and development, the purpose of these meetings shifted to mainly presenting the latest developments to the client and to getting feedback on them. 

Restructured sitemap and homepage

We started the project off on the right foot by creating a restructured sitemap and homepage from the get-go. This step helped create a better understanding of the user journey on the website, both for us as for the customer.

Click to see the full image

The sitemap was restructured in such a way to better position the “Work and Travel USA” program for easier access by the users. At the same time we removed pages which were considered irrelevant to exist on their own, like the photo and video galleries. Nonetheless, these elements were then reintegrated throughout other pages in a more cohesive way.

The homepage was also restructured to focus more on “Work and Travel USA” rather than the other programs. It was now mainly focused on the experience aspect of the whole trip. We’ve decided to use past customer testimonials as the base of describing the experience, by presenting them in a fun and younger-centric way. 

Stylescapes and the design direction

In order to create a cohesive design language for the whole website, we offered the client the option to chose between two design directions, in the form of two stylescapes. A stylescape is a collage of pre-existing media (e.g. fonts, images, graphics, colors) from different sources, that helps portray a general design direction for the website. These had to closely follow the customer’s alredy existing branding.

The first stylescape we’ve offered was called “Independent”, and it focused more on a design language that portrays their programs as a journey of self discovery, pushing your limits and independence. The images were bold, often containing a single person, with a general feel of adventure. To tie everything together, rectangular colorful graphics elements were also present.

The second stylescape we’ve offered, called “Social” focused more on the experience as a way to meet new people, create lasting friendships and discover new places. The images contain groups of people and different travel sights being tied together using a strong typography, with big letters and playful fonts.

The client chose the second stylescape, “Social”, with small elements from the first, like buildings separated from their backgrounds.

This was a strong base for the website design as a whole, providing both us and the client a reference point to look back to when there was a challenge in the way the design should look like.

The website design

Armed with the new structure and stylescape, we started work on the website.

We first focused on getting rid of all the pages that were unnecessary, followed by restructuring the navigation in order to put the important stuff right in front of the users. 

Once the navigation was done, we started work on the homepage. Here, we decided to create 3 unique sections, showcasing 3 testimonials. After reading over 200 testimonials, we found the three that were the best fit for this task, since they summarized the ideas mentioned in the majority of testimonials. We then got playful with some images of New York, Seattle and the Grand Canyon, achieving what we believe to be the most unique section of the homepage.

Website focus points

Job fairs calendar

Since the main project is focusing on students to work and travel in the USA, a main functionality the website had to have was a place where students could easily find information about job fairs. The old website only had a plain text page where everything had to be manually added.

To provide such functionality, we implemented a straightforward and simple to use admin interface, where an administrator could enter short details about a job fair. This information would then be dinamically shown in a calendar on the website. 

Click to see the full image

To provide such functionality, we implemented a straightforward and simple to use admin interface, where an administrator could enter short details about a job fair. This information would then be dinamically shown in a calendar on the website. 

Jobs list

Similarly to the calendar, a large list of different jobs had to be easily accessed by visitors, giving them the option to filter through it, based on the state where the job is located in.

For this, we designed a beautiful and easy to use jobs list, where all available jobs would be shown. An administrator would only have to enter the job details in the administrator dashboard and the job would dynamically be added to this list. 

For this, we designed a beautiful and easy to use jobs list, where all available jobs would be shown. An administrator would only have to enter the job details in the administrator dashboard and the job would dynamically be added to this list. 

The application process

One of the main features that the new website has is a simplified, streamlined apply process, for students and administrators alike.

A 4-step application process is available to students, where they could enter all the information needed to go through with the program application. This information is then sent to the administration team in the city that the student chose. This small but significant change helped eliminate a repetitive task from the application process. All the emails were previously sent to one inbox, and an administrator had to manually forward each email to the appropriate city branch, according to the city chosen by the student. This, along with other small changes helped reduce the time needed for an application to be analysed.

Click to see the full image
Click to see the full image
Click to see the full image
Click to see the full image

FAQ

The client’s desire was to display an extensive list of FAQs on the website.

We developed a solution that allows for very easy management of not only the list items themselves, but the sections as well. The client can use the administration dashboard to add/delete/edit sections, and inside of these sections they can then add/delete/edit individual questions and answers. The FAQs list would then be updated dynamically. 

We developed a solution that allows for very easy management of not only the list items themselves, but the sections as well. The client can use the administration dashboard to add/delete/edit sections, and inside of these sections they can then add/delete/edit individual questions and answers. The FAQs list would then be updated dynamically. 

New improvements to the old website

Comparing the new design with the old one will highlight how the website rebranding was achieved. The color palette used was more focused on the brand colors, the call to actions were directed towards the main program and the wording was changed to appeal more to young students, using some of the brand descriptive words:

Student, Young, Adventure, Independent, Travel

Homepage hero

Comparison between the first section of the homepage from the old website (on the right) and the new website (on the left).

new-homepage-section1 old-homepage-section1

Other areas

Presentation video

In order to better reach the target audience, we offered a short presentation video in both English and Romanian, showcasing the advantages of the Work and Travel program.

For this, we took inspiration from the following idea:

Through the Work & Travel USA program, you too can live The American Dream.

This video was to be used on social media platforms and on the website itself, so it had to be short, concise and evoke a strong feeling of adventure.

Unmute video for the full experience

For this, we took inspiration from the following idea:

Through the Work & Travel USA program, you too can live The American Dream.

This video was to be used on social media platforms and on the website itself, so it had to be short, concise and evoke a strong feeling of adventure.

Email signatures

An email signature is the perfect opportunity to reinforce the brand image. By including an on-brand signature in every email, brand recognition is created for every person to whom the email is sent to. For this, we provided two customizable HTML templates for email signatures.

Website management guide

Due to the website becoming quite complex, a comprehensive guide was put together. As a result, everything that could be done on the website’s administration dashboard was written out in a simple and easy to understand PDF document.

Takeways

One of the biggest challenges was to redesign and restructure the website by still closely following the existing brand direction.