A laptop and a mobile showing the same website.

The Full Story

The Holiday Place is a successful London-based travel operator offering a wide range of holidays to a number of destinations around the world.

With a convoluted website that lacked any true visual identity, The Holiday Place approached Clearleft to rethink, rebrand and redesign their entire website experience to better cater to their target market of ‘luxury’ holiday takers, over 30, spending an average of £1,500 per person.

The challenge

Though effective, the original website was potentially damaging The Holiday Place’s brand by delivering an experience that was incongruous with the level of service and attention to detail that the company provided. Holidays were hard to find, information was poorly delivered, and the lack of any cohesive visual design gave the impression of ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ holidays.

The approach

At the onset of the project we conducted several stakeholder interviews to better understand the goals and desires of the people who help make The Holiday Place successful, and to ensure their particular needs would be met through the redesign.

Armed with this valuable insight into the organisation we ran several successful co-design workshops, all designed to highlight the project’s challenges and get stakeholders working together to explore potential solutions.

Faceted search

The outcomes of the workshops helped us define the primary customer journey, where we discovered that 80% of the users were in a more advanced stage of ‘known-item searching’. To cater to these users, we turned to a faceted search solution. By focusing on search as the core of a holiday shopper’s experience, we could design a streamlined faceted search function that avoided overwhelming the user by displacing unnecessary complexities.

As we began focusing on search to facilitate the primary customer journey, complexities arose around the performance, technical implementation and perhaps most importantly - the small screen experience. To best communicate these complexities we iterated through several early ideas via lo-fidelity sketches, starting with the small screen experience and — once consensus was reached with the project team — moved up into large screen through higher-fidelity wireframes.

Letting the interface do the talking

Alongside the tactical UX we conducted several branding workshops with the THP team. These workshops helped establish any misconceptions of the current brand as well provide clear direction for the new brand and associated visual language.

It was through this process that we decided to adopt a somewhat unorthodox ‘bottom up’ branding approach. By marrying the visual language with a solid UX foundation and a strong content strategy that was running concurrently, we created a brand through the interface elements, ultimately leading to a visual language and brand that fully matched the perceptions of both The Holiday Place’s customers and stakeholders alike. 

Focusing on performance

Throughout the project we worked closely with The Holiday Place’s internal development team, who developed and maintained their vast software infrastructure completely in-house. With very few restrictions on what could be done technically, we were able to test & deploy front-end code quickly, adhering to the ‘build, measure, learn’ philosophy and at all times ensuring performance remained a top priority.

With imagery a main focus of any travel holiday website, long page load times can make or break a customer’s experience (and potential conversion).

The Holiday Place’s original image assets lacked freshness and artistic direction, forcing us to consider new ways of enhancing the site aesthetically without affecting page load time. Through the blurring of large thematic background images, we significantly reduced load time while remaining on target with our pre-specified page size ‘budget’.


We handed over our crate: a repository of all deliverables created throughout the project that helps ensure project consistency and extensibility in the future.

Equipped with our pattern portfolio, pattern primer and a number of guidelines for imagery, branding and front-end development, The Holiday Place have been able to build upon the foundational work we provided and continue to deliver a first-class user experience for their holiday customers.