Traveling the world and experiencing new sights and sounds isn’t an idea that you really have to convince others to like or yearn for. After all, people go on trips and vacations all the time. Not to mention, people are constantly looking for new great heights to explore – as is seen with the growing popularity of travel and inspiration sources today.

Inspiration is a funny thing though. It’s hard to find and easy to lose, but when you’re lucky, it can also spread like wildfire. So when it comes to convincing someone to take an adventure – to actually commit to traveling – it really just comes down to trying to kindle that feeling of deep inspiration and desire.

In that light, I wanted to share the research we did when approaching the Adventure.com project. And seriously, I’ve never been more inspired when doing a competitive analysis…

1. National Geographic

NGEO

The content is incredibly easy to scan through due to the site’s simple photo-centric layout. If you have great assets to work with, consider using a grid format which lets you absorb the beauty of the photos – which is the case with National Geographic. Then accentuate these photos with simple typography below each feature photo, as seen in the example above.

2. Proof

Proof-NGEO

A subsection within National Geographic’s site features “Proof,” a photojournalistic storytelling editorial feature. The front page only features large photos and each individual story has simple and clean typography to support the photographer’s breathtaking visuals. This type of layout can prove quite effective in narrowing a user’s focus down to the content (specifically title subject) and give them a very browse-friendly experience.

3. InfinityList

InfinityList

What makes InfinityList an effective layout is not in its visual styles but rather it’s functionality and structure. Videos are label free therefore reducing the visual clutter that would otherwise occur with the usual blog title/description meta that you often see. It’s bold to let the video meta be hidden by a desktop hover but considering how ideal streaming videos would be on a desktop (vs. a mobile internet connection), this seems like an appropriate choice for their audience’s discovery experience.

4. Exposure

Exposure

Exposure is an exciting photojournalism site where users can tell simple stories that are brought to life by photography. This site brings a great amount of attention to its typography and clean layout – utilizing a mobile-friendly typographic approach that makes for an easy reading experience on any device. There aren’t too many frills here from a design aspect and it’s the right direction to take when you want your users to fixate on your amazing media content.

5. Boat Magazine

Boat

Another great example of a photojournalistic magazine is Boat. Similar to what you saw in Exposure, Boat focuses on quality typography paired with a bold but clean layout. In Boat Magazine’s typographic choice, you really get to see a bit more of its elegant brand come to life through its splendid use of beautiful serifs. Notice the simplicity in Boat’s color palette – doesn’t it help their great photography shine?

6. Sidetracked

Sidetracked

If you want a bit of inspiration from some incredible travelers, look no further: Sidetracked is a travel editorial site that focuses on delivering tales from adventurers from all over the world. Its layout is filled with large feature photos and each editorial piece is rich with incredibly detailed events from each adventurer’s trip.

7. The Clymb

Clymb

The Clymb is an ecommerce-centric travel and gear site that aims to deliver great timely product deals to their users. They use an easy-to-navigate grid layout with representative photographic shots of their products to help users easily skim through the deals that interest them the most. As a bonus, if you’re not in the mood to shop around their store, you can swing over to their Stories section which contains beautiful features detailing trips, adventures, and tributes to travel-related subjects.

8. Zozi

Zozi

With most of the sites in this roundup so far, you’ve probably noticed an “epic” and “bold” brand feeling that comes to life from their visual layout styles. Zozi is one of the few, however, that really takes consumer-friendly to a new level. With warm colors, friendly typography, and less in-your-face media assets, Zozi brings a more comforting approach to potential travelers with its unique brand and design. Within each of its trip detail pages, its content is easy to read, and it’s incredibly clear to any user just what the trip they’re looking at holds in store for them.

9. Camp 4 Collective

Camp4

Camp 4 Collective features a very focused experience on its site, where on the homepage, there is absolutely no content below the fold (of the browsing experience) – a pretty rare experience for editorial sites nowadays. When you dive into any one of the site’s pages (like a feature video), you pretty much get the video, the more crafty branding embellishments (like stitched borders), and well… that’s it! Talk about clear cut and effective!

10. Backcountry

BackCountry

Backcountry is an outdoor gear and clothing ecommerce experience that, like many travel-related sites, utilizes bold typography and minimal color to let its media assets do the talking. Most of its pages feature an adventure-themed lifestyle shot, and when you dive into any one of their product detail pages, you can see that minimal styling being applied throughout the page.

11. AARP

AARP

AARP has done a great job creating a very rich travel searching experience on their site. The hidden treasure on this site is their Trip Finder which utilizes a very context-centric visual approach to help find your ideal trip. Each step is simple and the visual experience is absolutely delightful – which is the very opposite experience that many people expect the travel booking experience to be.

12. Baldface

Baldface

When you need to have an immersive and bold visual experience for your users, consider trying an edge-to-edge visual experience like Baldface Lodge. Each page features huge high quality images (with sliders!) that makes every image portrayed feel larger than life.

13. Visit Philadelphia

VisitPhilly

Visit Philadelphia is a nicely presented destination site with some great visual flourishes and an outstanding character. Sure, it’s not using the trendiest full width images or minimal layout structures, but that makes little difference when it comes to effectiveness. The content is easily accessible and the photos they do use are pronounced and make a dazzling effect to any page.

14. Combadi

Combadi

When it comes to beautiful illustrations, elegant color palettes, and a wonderful brand experience, Combadi definitely is towards the top of the list. Like Zozi, Combadi has a very consumer-friendly experience that uses bright warm colors and welcoming typography. Unlike Zozi, however, Combadi does a great job balancing bold with friendly through its good use of mixed typography and smart usage of colors to various visual elements on its site (like that homepage header!).

15. Discover America

DiscoverAmerica

Fun, friendly, and bold: Discover USA aims for an immersive but friendly experience where its photography and color palette really do all the talking. You can’t help but see the fun and playfulness in each of the destinations it portrays on its site.

16. Visit Finland

VisitFinland

Visit Finland’s brand holds sophistication, beauty, and energy and this is all matched by the visual presentation of its site. Its brand colors of gray, pink, and orange help bring a subtle professional yet elegant look to it, while the actual browsing experience is filled with delightful interactive modals, maps, and sliders.

17. Travel Belize

Belize

When it comes to energetic, fun, and friendly, Belize’s destination site takes the cake. Its rainbow palette together with big and bold typography really brighten the experience of its site. And we haven’t even mentioned the beautiful custom illustrations scattered throughout its entire site. From beautiful sea turtles to cool infographics, Belize really emits the ultimate welcoming travel experience.

18. The Lonely Planet

LonelyPlanet

The Lonely Planet recently rolled out a redesign that really makes for an easy scannable browsing experience. With a mix of full-width images and smaller content modules within a grid system, users can look through a wide range of content within a single page while simultaneously experiencing small bursts of visually compelling images, all of which help set the tone of travel and discovery.

19. Everest

Everest

With more and more video being used to tell compelling stories, Everest app really puts you in the mood of going on a journey with its opening video background image. Their opening cinematography makes you feel as if you could be one of the travelers being featured. As a bonus, its journal still utilizes beautiful full width images with clean and easy to read typography (much like editorial sites like Exposure and Boat).

20. Snowbird

Snowbird

Talk about a rich interactive experience for finding the right traveling experience. Snowbird focuses on delivering its content, whether it’s details on the weather or images of lodging locations, in a beautifully visual and interactive way.

21. TriplAgent

Triplagent

Last but not least, TriplAgent is an elegant city travel companion for adventurers all over the world. Utilizing great iconography, illustrations, photographs, and editorial layouts, you can find all the information you need in this simple to use city guide.

It’s About Emotions Not Products

The experience of travel is filled with emotion, whether it’s from the adrenaline highs you get when reaching the top of a summit or the stress you endure while navigating through a crowded train station.

In our research we learned that the real challenge in the travel industry isn’t getting users to click the buy button; it’s deciding how to tell your story in an inspiring and provocative manner. Why? Because providing good and engaging content is how to transform your visitors into customers. Appeal to their emotional side and inspire them to get out of their comfort zone so that they’re ready to pull the trigger on that mysterious, unknown, exciting trip.

Now, go get inspired. Visit www.adventure.com.

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