As I flummox across the World Wide Web, I regularly and subconsciously replace my consumer head with its analytical and often overcritical ‘web head’ counterpart. I become immune to all information that I am meant to be taking in, and instead begin to concentrate on the quality of the techniques used to convey its content. This, I am sure will be a complex shared with my beloved web designer compadres.

The last ‘web head’ turn I had fell on the familiar ‘Premier Inn’ website (www.premierinn.com). To my utter shock (I would say I gasped out loud, but I didn’t), my synopsis was of admiration, rather than branding my cynical stamp on it as I seem to do far too often.

This site doesn’t contain any ground-breaking interactivity that hasn’t been seen before, nor does it include any original, fancy swooping graphics that knock the socks off any creatively inclined mogul. What is does have is the balance of engaging design, easy usability, relevant information and technical stability. Bluntly speaking, it works. And it works very well.

  1. Branding – The absolute core of any design. If the brand is weak (not just the logo may I add, more the way the company presents its ethos and market position) then it is very difficult to engage any user into what you are offering them. Premier Inn’s brand does this very well. It also uses its purple house colour to make it a very memorable and approachable company.
  2. Attention to detail – Small elements such as the rotating arrows and change of background colours on the navigation bars are tiny yet vital additions in making the design and usability of the site so fine tuned. Lazier designers often skip these details in order to save time.
  3. Relevant and accessible information – The web designers have evidentially researched into what information their audience wants, and in what order they want it to be presented to them. A well designed website is wasted if the content is irrelevant.
  4. Flash – Apple’s dream of killing the Flash web platform has certainly restricted its use in modern sites, but this example is a refreshing way of how it still can be used in a generally mobile and SEO friendly way. Containing its use to a fixed box allows you to still have movement on the site, without it conflicting with more necessary information around it. As the element isn’t vital in the sites usability, the web designer’s replace the SWF with a static image for mobile and incompatible sites, presumably using the ‘swfobject’ implementation technique.
  5. Our rooms – Again using Flash in a contained way, this is a really nice and simple interactive inclusion that adds credibility to site.
  6. Member’s login – A textbook way of accessing a direct port of call between the company and their users. Nothing new obviously, but vital in presenting the site as an established one.
  7. Javascript toolbar – It wouldn’t be a modern site if JQuery wasn’t included somewhere! Including this allows mobile and non-flash users to still experience some necessary movement.
  8. SEO Friendly – The site covers its own back by including keyword rich HTML content, that will be picked up by Search Engines across the land.

That’s it! A wee little case study to refer to if ever you need to remind yourself of the important things in web design. Premier Inn…you can thank me later (free one night stay? Though not.)