This one is going to be a doozy, so hold on to your design thinking hats ladies and gentlemen. My role at AHT was the lead designer responsible for designing and building the corporate site from scratch as well as updating and building out the backend portal which interfaced with a custom built CMS database that was accessed via secure login by hotels and travel agents. Due to constraints, the only persons working on the project were myself and one backend developer. To help narrow down the amount of work that went into the build of this site, I am going to focus more specifically on the portal portion of this massive build, as well as the process of properties being able to add images and media to their profile page via the portal.
The initial ask was to update the design of the already existing backend portal with a cleaner interface for data collection. The largest part of this ask was taking a multi-step work-flow to a self-service interface where the user could manage their own image library. The process at the time was long and tedious and required all sorts of approvals and emails and often hotels would go for months without updated images.
I needed to create an identity for the new branched company while maintaining a look and feel that existing customers were used to.
Ok, so this is the fun part. The main refresh involved making sure that all of the brand information and design was recognizable enough to current users to maintain brand integrity. The company had just separated and the designs needed to feel familiar but also laid out in a more efficient and attractive way. The majority of these pages were going to be used to collect data in order to aggregate and display the information via a separate front-end site that the travel agents could use to easily identify information they needed in order to perform their daily tasks.
What I mainly wanted to focus on was making sure that there was enough white space to make entering the easier, but also adding small touches like providing a dropdown of properties should multiple ones be owned by a particular hotel group without having to sign out and then log back in. Because users LOVE that. *side eye*
Alright! *Rubs hands together giddily* Now that the lighter bits were handled we get to the meat and potatoes of the situation. One of the major problems that came up with the separation was that this half of the company no longer had a dedicated employee to add/update property images to the site. The process before, would be that a property manager would send a photo addition/update request to the photo editor via a form. The photo editor was then responsible for downloading the photos sent, resizing and then re-uploading to the front end along with having to source captions and credits for image used (because contracts). So we can already see the places where this was going to end badly.
So I thought, why not build out an addition to the portal backend that allowed for the property managers to upload the images and provide the captions and credits themselves? With an additional built in 48-36 hour check by the marketing program manager to confirm that the image was on brand for both AHT and the property in question, this seemed like an ideal solution to the design problem at hand.