This evening I had some time to browse the Travel Channel’s website (TravelChannel.com). The Travel Channel describes their existence as “the leading media destination for people who want to experience their world and immerse themselves in new cultures.” It is part of the Discovery network, which includes such networks as Animal Planet, TLC, and The Science Channel.
The site is not just for those who are actually traveling, but it is for anyone who wants to learn about other cultures and areas in our great world. There is a wealth of information buried within various sections of the website. The main page features six large “roll-over” type buttons at the top of the screen that act as the main point of navigation. I have mixed feelings on the simplicity of those six buttons. On one hand, it keeps the main page clutter free and allows all navigation to take place on a sub-page. On the other hand, each button represents such a broad section of the website. The user does not know what they are going to find once they click on a button. I think it would be advantageous for the web designers to incorporate a simple drop down menu to those buttons with several subpages linked so the user can bypass a second navigation page and just go straight to their destination.
The “DESTINATIONS” button takes you to a graphical map where you can click on your desired area of travel. Based on your choice, a text menu appears on the right side that allows you to chose your “country” and “city”. The text menu is rather boring and could be spruced up with the use of some kind of graphic surrounding the text. The functionality is there but the delivery is bland.
Once passed all the navigation pages, you are into the meat of the website. There is good information here. Each city has a “Destination Guide” complete with area hotels, dinging, attractions, nightlife & arts, shopping, business travel, political info, historical background, recommended tours, “getting around”, and fun facts. The wealth of information balances out any navigation or design shortfalls.
I also enjoyed the “TRAVEL IDEAS” section where Travel Channel writers suggest, obviously, ideas for traveling. I clicked on “Fall Foliage Road Trips” and was delighted to see they have an article about the Blue Ridge Parkway. I took a car cruise on the Blue Ridge Parkway all day today! It was gorgeous. Their article was completely accurate and I coincidentally followed exactly what they suggested.
Another neat feature of the website is the ability to upload your own videos and pictures that you have taken while traveling. This allows potential travelers to view a fellow tourists activities first hand. Sometimes, it is hard to get a feel of a destination solely on a professional videographer’s film because everything looks so unreal.
I would defiantly visit TravelChannel.com before planning a trip. It is a free resource for a little more information about your destination!