I've got a concept of a destination-site (about Paris) covering topics like: Hotels, Restaurants, activities, tripplans, and all other usual suspects. This topic-based navigation is the de facto standard for these kinds of sites. (see Tripadvisor, Fodors, etc. )

However, at the same time, researching and booking a trip can be divided in pretty distinct phases (up for debate how clear these boundaries are). Google for example distinguishes: Dreaming, Researching, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing. (see for example: http://www.eyefortravel.com/social-media-and-marketing/insight-online-travel-search-google)

Based on this, I'm trying to come up with an IA, which combines these 2 facets, where the Phases are the primary navigation and the Topics the secondary navigation.

This allows for a more logical IA when trying to integrate functionality in a later stage, like planning and suggestion-tools imho. Moreover, it may give a fresh and distinctive perspective.

The Primary/Main navigation includes:

  • Explore
  • Gather Ideas
  • Read-up
  • Search & Compare
  • Plan

While the secondary navigation includes Topics depending on the primary, e.g:

  • Explore > Hotels (casual browsing / guided exploration)
  • Explore > Restaurants
  • Explore > Vibes & Experiences
  • Explore > ...
  • Gather Ideas > (wizard-style suggestions, community Q&A, shared tripplans)
  • Read-up > Blogposts / Articles
  • Read-up > in-depth Paris Guide
  • Search & Compare > Hotels
  • Search & Compare> Restaurants
  • Plan (creating tripplans, sharing them, etc. )

I've included a screenshot, how this would/could work.

primary nav as main menu, secondary to the right, almost like selecting a column and a row..

Trying to ask an objective question: Given the fact that a travel-site often has clear goals (some users are casually exploring, some know what they want and will directly be searching, while others have already booked and want to plan their trip) would task-based navigation on such a site make sense? (Even though users may not expect it initially)

I know I could do some testing (verifyapp or whatever, but I've already done some small testing and there's really 2 distinct camps), so I'm looking for advice on a more fundamental level.


  • Hi Geert-Jan, try to avoid asking people what they think and formulate a more objective question - you'll get better answers that way. :-)
    – Rahul
    Jan 27, 2012 at 15:06
  • Yeah I know, I'm having trouble finding the objective part in what I'm trying to ask though :) hmm let me rethink this.. Jan 27, 2012 at 15:14
  • Why no use topics based navigation and have task option in home page and on top right nav. option?
    – jrosell
    Jan 30, 2012 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


It makes sense for user goals to define the IA when users need to see different information about the same objects depending on their goals. For example, Toshiba USA separates researching laptops from buying them because their online store offering is much smaller than the complete product family. However, when you're dealing with trip planning, does a person need to see different information when just researching a destination than when they've already booked the trip and are finalizing the itinerary?

I don't see much semantic difference in your proposed top-level taxonomy. Explore, Gather ideas, and Read-up are very similar in meaning and they all relate to one phase: Researching. Thus, your top-level navigation needs to follow some other organizational principles.

Official tourism sites organize information on the top level by type of content (such as accommodations, transportation, and events) rather than by the phase of the planning process. Here're some examples:

Washington, DC (Washington.org)

dc tourism main navigation
DC is actually a good example of IA problems. The sections are: a booking widget; links to attractions plus maps, FAQ, contact page, and package deals; links to activities based on a large number of categories plus blogs, newsletters, and contact page; a direct link to events calendar; links to resources for tourism & event planning professionals plus press info, about page, and jobs. The troubles are with the unrelated links and with inconsistent experience: some top-level items are links while others open menus.

New York City* (NYCGo.com)

nyc tourism main navigation
The sections here are very clear: attractions (including suggested itineraries & passes), things to do by category, link to accommodation search, list of everything necessary to plan the trip (maps, guides, itineraries, transportation, etc), and deals. In addition, there are 4 links for special interests that are marked with a different color.

London, UK (VisitLondon.com)

london tourism main navigation
Despite London lagging a few years in UI and web design (the tabs on top of the page, which are actually links to external sites), the main navigation is well-organized and straightforward. The sections are: accommodation searches by type, venues by purpose (attractions, shopping, dining, family, etc), events by type, special section for the Olympics, info about the metropolitan area, travel & transportation info, maps & guides, special offers, and the link to the blog. Unlike others, London has more top-level categories, perhaps for easier discovery.

Sydney, NSW (Sydney.com)

sydney tourism navigation
Sydney's navigation is also easy-to-understand but suffers slightly in usability because transparency over a highly textured image reduces text clarity. The sections are: destinations in the city by region, activities by type, accommodations by type an location, events by location & highlights of major festivals, and deals. Though the gem is Sydney's second-level menus, which are too large to include as a screenshot. Despite their sizes, they retain great clarity in organization.

Paris (ParisInfo.com)

paris tourism navigation
Paris also follows the paradigm of topic-based top navigation. The sections are: accommodations, eating, museums, transportation, events, shopping & fashion, tours, travel tips, and sustainable tourism. What's interesting is that the main reasons for tourism in Paris (food, fashion, and museums) were given dedicated top-level sections.

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