I've been asked to produce an IA for a large travel company and specifically the groupings of destinations.

I have: by country THEN by state region THEN by capital city and major population center (if applicable)

I have also split the IA so that there is a shortcut menu 'popular destinations' which are ad-hoc, popular countries such as USA/UK and /or capital city or things like 'north africa' 'caribbean' etc etc.

I've been trying to find consensus online but the evidence stops at the region / state level where a huge amount of variation comes in.

How should I organise the IA? Am I on track? Anything I'm missing? Is there any published research I can look at?

notes: selection of destination will be by mega menu or drop down. Maps not in spec.

edit: I'm not so interested in the mode of interaction but the amount of destinations and their organisation to include in the IA. edit 2: it turns out that region definitions vary depending on the activity; huge variation and enormously hard to legislate for. Would you advocate stopping at nationally recognised state/region definitions?

  • 1
    Even state/region is hard. Taiwan is a major business travel destination, and yet its country status is murky. Taipei's city status is not so disputed, but calling it a capital city gets you back into the country discussion.
    – MSalters
    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:39
  • Have you looked at the old visitor stats? If it's a new project, try to do some card sorting or, in the worst case, copy others.
    – dnbrv
    Mar 13, 2012 at 14:57
  • done all of the above. What makes this project hard is that they have information across 4 domains and stats for 1 and then slightly variable language variations and no user research ... and a slightly strange business model which makes copying that bit harder...
    – colmcq
    Mar 14, 2012 at 9:36

7 Answers 7


What's the purpose of the travel site -- business travelers, golfers who travel, families, singles? That's another way of asking, "Who is the audience?" If it's a specialized audience, skew for their particular weltanschauung. If it's a general audience, use generally accepted geographic divisions -- the UN, wikipedia, etc.


I think you are going to need more than just country/state/region IA, because people have many different reasons for travelling, and might be at various stages of planning when they hit your site.

For example -- If Sally is interested in historic architecture (or hiking, or wine tasting) but doesn't know where to look, a geography-based IA won't be helpful for her.

I would start creating some personas for people with different goals to make sure you are able to organize the information well.

Edit: also sometimes cities can be major travel destinations (think Paris), so it probably would be a good idea to include at least popular cities.


I would have thought a drop down searchlet would be a nice solution here. Something like this: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/ComboBox/ComboBox.aspx

I allows the user to filter via typing in all/part of a location name and also provides the option of simply laying out all options in the form of a drop down.

  • I've edited the question: I'm not really looking at mode of interaction yet
    – colmcq
    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:20

@colmcq if it is allowed, you can further divide based on gender survey. Because, men and women have their own perception of travel place/experience etc. I have seen this in some survey sites. Also, you can include inhabitants wise data, example people of particular group (like chinese , indians etc) staying in large number etc..


How about providing and alternate grouping by destination visit purpose, for e.g., "visit with kids", "honeymoon destination", "religious importance" etc.

Over a period of time, you can provide further help to the users by saying: "people who searched for honeymoon destinations also looked at..." or "also bought tickets to...".

As a user, I would expect to filter searches done like this by country, state etc.


I'd probably start by looking at what some other travel companies have done...

Rather than having to build your own site to test - you could do a bit of informal testing on what is already out there to see what works best.

  • First, ask your target audience what they considered important when the went on their latest trip. I'll bet you'll find a ton of insights from them).
  • Do a quick site inventory of the competitors - how do they structure the content?

You could also group the destinations by

  • Interest (golf trips, skiing, cultural trips, adventure-oriented, partying, senior trips etc)
  • Price range
  • Length of the visit (2 weeks or weekend trips)
  • By travel distance (some people such as people with kids might hate to fly for 9 hours)
  • Temperature and time of year (some people would love to travel to northern Europe but not during the winter)

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