The Five Pillars of Montenegro’s Online Experience
The National Tourism Organisation (NTO) of Montenegro was insistent raising the country’s profile in the competitive landscape. We asked Mrs. Svetlana Tomković, the director of the website redesign project, about the main drivers behind the project.
Hi Svetlana, please briefly outline the main goals of montenegro.travel.
The new NTO strategy relies on innovative marketing with a strong focus on digital, which is why we needed a portal to reflect our strategic commitment and the recommendations of the World Tourism Organization, which emphasise the principles of sustainable development. This portal is the backbone of the entire Montenegro digital ecosystem, and it is designed to facilitate and synthesise the activities of the main stakeholders of Montenegrin tourism to increase demand and attract more visitors.
The portal is a pivotal source of information under the auspices of the brand Montenegro Wild Beauty. It promotes diverse travel experiences that encourage sustainability and innovation in tourism, with special focus on supporting the private sector and the entire Montenegrin tourism industry.
What do you think drives the modern traveller?
Tourists today want to spend their time differently than previous generations. Modern travellers are looking for experiences, not places. They want to act like locals, eat like locals, live like locals, and leave no trace on the environment. These are the visitors the portal aims to address.
What was your biggest challenge on the project?
The biggest challenge was how to transform the Montenegro brand from its old-fashioned approach to its innovative new level. We were fortunate to have the support and knowledge of Creatim in both tourism and digital innovation—and as a result, the whole process of our transformation was more manageable and now we have an online experience that we can all be very proud of.
Svetlana, thanks for the comment.
The key principles
Creatim designed the Montenegro NTO website using five universal principles of inspirational experiences:
1. Unique visual identity
When it comes to inspirational experiences, sameness is the biggest foe. Following atomic design principles, Creatim’s designers drew on Montenegro’s distinctive visual identity, dissecting its logo into basic shapes and colours to recombine them into new visual and functional elements to create a memorable online impression.
2. Visual Storytelling
The content strategy for the tourism portal employs the Hero-Hub-Hygiene (HHH) model. Eye-catching pictures grab visitors' attention, leading them through vibrant stories of the country’s legends and heritage. On the homepage, users have the option to hide all the text, bringing the visual storytelling experience to the next level. Moving higher on the HHH pyramid, the main narrative branches into persona-specific landing pages to boost relevancy and support inbound marketing initiatives.
3. Visitor-centric approach
At Creatim, we knew we had to profile visitors as early as possible to ensure the relevancy of the content. Banking on analytical data was not enough, so we proposed a “Shape Your Montenegro Story” wizard to elicit visitor preferences and provide them with the most relevant offering early in the session.
4. Credibility (social proof)
User-generated content (UGC) was implemented throughout the site. As a modern equivalent of word of mouth, it replaces once-popular postcards to provide social proof (e.g., people were in Montenegro and looked happy). It is a great tool to neutralize mistrust that naturally arises when consumers buy something they have yet to consume.
5. Tourism-specific CMS
Destination website management requires specialised functionalities to optimize the editorial process. Over the years, Creatim has developed a multi-language, tourism-specific CMS that streamlines marketing, business, and operational processes behind the scenes while also meeting the highest security standards.
Creatim’s approach to designing a tourist website is simple. We believe a great photo or positive visitor review is much more effective (and persuasive) than the latest digital gizmo. We invest a great deal of effort into understanding the user’s mind flow so that we can design the story structure accordingly. People seek simplicity, and we aim to provide it.
However, to wow online users, a country must speak to the interests of many stakeholders to elicit the country’s most compelling advantages. Only then can the website have the power to persuade potential visitors and encourage them to take action.
Due to the complexities of having many stakeholders, the project consisted of many “dependencies.” Just one missing input could have stalled the project as a whole. We discussed each stakeholder’s accountabilities upfront to know their role and who to contact in case issues arose.
We held a series of workshops with the client to discuss Montenegro’s unique attributes, visitors, project goals, and methodologies, clarifying potential issues along the way. Once this process was complete, we outlined a content strategy that provided guidelines for content creators and the client-side editorial team.
Drawing upon their experience from similar projects, Creatim’s UX team went in knowing what would work and what would not. By not having to deal with the basics, they were able to focus on added-value topics like sustainable travel, MICE features, partner promotion programs, and cute details that make an online experience unique. They employed design thinking principles to ascertain personalized user flows and develop the architecture of the new portal.
Effective development methodology
Creatim employed a “fixed-price agile development approach” to meet the client’s requirements. This method respected the milestones of the project roadmap while also providing the flexibility to experiment and innovate.
Creatim’s project manager coordinated the development activities. Backed by quality assurance and version control in every project instance, he ensured the team addressed the issues promptly to avoid possible bottlenecks. The Montenegro team actively participated in the project by providing content and operational decisions on the fly to ensure smooth development.
At the end of the project, Creatim conducted a training to give staff end-to-end control over the CMS. Our support team will stand by them to help in case any issues arise.