US State Tourism Web Site Design: Two Years On (Part 1)

About two years ago, I posted a review of US state tourism web sites, in which I uncovered a range of web site design going all the way from great to downright ugly. More recently, Sam Dunn did his own summary of 22 well designed state tourism web sites.

Comparing Sam’s picks for the best state tourism web sites against their 2007 counterparts made me go back and look through my own list to see how all the sites had changed.

All I can say is “What a difference two years makes.” Note: all screenshots were taken in a 1024×768 browser window.

Alabama

Alabama’s web site was good to begin with:

Alabama state tourism website: 2007
Alabama state tourism website: 2007

So I’m not too surprised that it hasn’t really changed:

Alabama state tourism website: 2009
Alabama state tourism website: 2009

Alaska

This dull and uninviting site was in dire need of a redesign:

Alaska state tourism website: 2007
Alaska state tourism website: 2007

What an improvement! The new site is much more modern and appealing:

Alaska state tourism website: 2009
Alaska state tourism website: 2009

Arizona

The old site was mediocre in terms of design and overdid it with the desert color scheme (yes, we get it — Arizona is dusty):

Arizona state tourism website: 2007
Arizona state tourism website: 2007

For some reason no one at the tourism has felt the need to do much at all with the site since. If anything, the layout of the home page has taken a step backwards:

Arizona state tourism website: 2009
Arizona state tourism website: 2009

Arkansas

Arkansas’ tourism site has undergone a transformation, going from an ancient-looking:

Arkansas state tourism website: 2007
Arkansas state tourism website: 2007

To a much more modern, vibrant, content-rich (and yes, very yellow) design:

Arkansas state tourism website: 2009
Arkansas state tourism website: 2009

California

I liked the California site before, even though the home page was all done in Flash:

California state tourism website: 2007
California state tourism website: 2007

Apparently, the all-Flash approach didn’t work out as it has gone, although the new site still retains the flavor of the old one and is nicely organized:

California state tourism website: 2009
California state tourism website: 2009

Colorado

Other than having great imagery, Colorado’s site was fairly workmanlike in its design:

Colorado state tourism website: 2007
Colorado state tourism website: 2007

The current site is much improved, with a super Flash carousel and a much cleaner layout, which although it verges on being a little on the empty side:

Colorado state tourism website: 2009
Colorado state tourism website: 2009

Connecticut

Having a pretty decent, albeit somewhat stark, site to begin with:

Connecticut state tourism website: 2007
Connecticut state tourism website: 2007

Connecticut have opted to not really change much at all. A little color wouldn’t go amiss:

Connecticut state tourism website: 2009
Connecticut state tourism website: 2009

Delaware

Delaware’s site wasn’t bad, but was already looking dated in 2007:

Delaware state tourism website: 2007
Delaware state tourism website: 2007

Well, there’s been no redesign and for some reason the potentially useful “attractions & events” section has been pushed down to make room for a letter from the governor:

Delaware state tourism website: 2009
Delaware state tourism website: 2009

Florida

Florida’s web site captured the feel of the state well, although it had a few layout issues:

Florida state tourism website: 2007
Florida state tourism website: 2007

The new web site is a marked improvement, with a lot to see and do as you plan your trip:

Florida state tourism website: 2009
Florida state tourism website: 2009

Georgia

Georgia’s site was pretty but a little bland:

Georgia state tourism website: 2007
Georgia state tourism website: 2007

The new site is an improvement, both in terms of the visuals and in bringing more functionality and information to the home page:

Georgia state tourism website: 2009
Georgia state tourism website: 2009

Hawaii

The old site wasn’t too bad at all, although it was a little sparse on home page content:

Hawaii state tourism website: 2007
Hawaii state tourism website: 2007

The current site does a much better job of representing the idea of Hawaii as well as bringing a lot more content and interactivity to the forefront:

Hawaii state tourism website: 2009
Hawaii state tourism website: 2009

Idaho

The old site was in need of a redesign, with a dated design that underserved the features of the state:

Idaho state tourism website: 2007
Idaho state tourism website: 2007

Although a little rigid in terms of layout, the new site is much more appealing:

Idaho state tourism website: 2009
Idaho state tourism website: 2009

Illinois

Illinois’ site was well organized but rather cold and uninviting:

Illinois state tourism website: 2007
Illinois state tourism website: 2007

Strangely, the redesigned site is even more so (it reminds me of John McCain’s infamous ‘black’ web site):

Illinois state tourism website: 2009
Illinois state tourism website: 2009

Indiana

The old site gave a wonderful impression of how damn cold it must be there right now (although I’m not sure if this was intentional):

Indiana state tourism website: 2007
Indiana state tourism website: 2007

Although the current site uses a little more color, the layout of the home page has degraded over time and it doesn’t feel as integrated as the previous design:

Indiana state tourism website: 2009
Indiana state tourism website: 2009

Iowa

The old site was in desperate need of a redesign — even the imagery was awful:

Iowa state tourism website: 2007
Iowa state tourism website: 2007

And what a great redesign it turned out to be. The home page is brimming with content, color, vacation ideas and tools. I’m not quite sure what happened with the background image implementation, but this is a small detail:

Iowa state tourism website: 2009
Iowa state tourism website: 2009

Kansas

Two years ago the Kansas site had a fairly uninspiring, middle-of-the-road site design:

Kansas state tourism website: 2007
Kansas state tourism website: 2007

Well, it hasn’t changed except to remove a great chunk of content from the center of the home page and add a “welcome to our web site” heading:

Kansas state tourism website: 2009
Kansas state tourism website: 2009

Kentucky

Kentucky’s old site was appealing to look at and well laid out:

Kentucky state tourism website: 2007
Kentucky state tourism website: 2007

So it’s not surprising that they’ve chosen to stick with the design:

Kentucky state tourism website: 2009
Kentucky state tourism website: 2009

Louisiana

The old web site felt oddly broken into two parts, with a giant trip booking tool that took over far too much of the home page:

Louisiana state tourism website: 2007
Louisiana state tourism website: 2007

The redesigned site is a considerable improvement with a pleasing design and a much greater focus on content:

Louisiana state tourism website: 2009
Louisiana state tourism website: 2009

Maine

Maine’s site looked perfectly acceptable a year ago:

Maine state tourism website: 2007
Maine state tourism website: 2007

However, I much prefer their redesign. Here’s how to present winter without it looking cold and dreary:

Maine state tourism website: 2009
Maine state tourism website: 2009

Maryland

Back in 2007, Maryland had one of the worst-designed web sites:

Maryland state tourism website: 2007
Maryland state tourism website: 2007

Although not a contender for ‘best of the bunch,’ its redesign has at least brought it up to par:

Maryland state tourism website: 2009
Maryland state tourism website: 2009

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has gone from a very dated looking home page and design:

Massachusetts state tourism website: 2007
Massachusetts state tourism website: 2007

To one which feels much more contemporary and is content-rich and actually useful:

Massachusetts state tourism website: 2009
Massachusetts state tourism website: 2009

Michigan

The old site was certainly full of content, but suffered from a lackluster design:

Michigan state tourism website: 2007
Michigan state tourism website: 2007

The redesigned site is a big improvement in terms of overall design and layout, although it feels in need of some bolder imagery and color choices:

Michigan state tourism website: 2009
Michigan state tourism website: 2009

Minnesota

In 2007 Minnesota’s site looked great above the fold but then seemed to run out of ideas as you scrolled down:

Minnesota state tourism website: 2007
Minnesota state tourism website: 2007

The new site is more interesting to look at and has a more cohesive home page design.

However, on closer inspection it feels like it needs one more pass to turn it into a truly great design:

Minnesota state tourism website: 2009
Minnesota state tourism website: 2009

Mississippi

I found the color scheme of the old site to be pretty unappealing and the overall layout rather uninspiring:

Mississippi state tourism website: 2007
Mississippi state tourism website: 2007

Incredibly, the design of the site hasn’t changed a bit in 2 years:

Mississippi state tourism website: 2009
Mississippi state tourism website: 2009

Missouri

While the old site wasn’t bad, once you got below the fold there wasn’t much to recommend from a design standpoint:

Missouri state tourism website: 2007
Missouri state tourism website: 2007

The new site has certainly made some bold design choices, although I’m not sure they entirely work once you move down into the content area.

I also have no idea why the search box is so huge:

Missouri state tourism website: 2009
Missouri state tourism website: 2009

So, that’s my roundup of US state tourism sites 1 to 25. Stay tuned for the rest and some concluding thoughts in part 2.