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Holiday Time! Sites that Say ‘Tis the Season

With 67.7 million people in the United States with high-speed internet, the trend for retailers in 2011 seems to be that most have highly graphical and visually stunning designs for the holidays.

In most cases, these seasonal designs are carried out through the entire site. Examples of this include Bath & Body Works, Harry & David, Aéropostale, and Eddie Bauer. This approach to holiday design is great because it creates a greater sense of immersion, much like if you were to walk in the retailer's brick and mortar store. It must be taken into consideration that this is an expensive approach that takes much planning months in advance. Most high-end retailers create whole campaigns based on a single concept— remember the Gap’s 1998 Christmas Commercial Campaign with music from Sleigh Ride?

In other instances, some retailers change the “chrome” (the background and outside container of the site) to give it a holiday theme while still retaining the traditional design and layout of their site. An example of this approach is The benefit is that it is a lower cost approach that still creates the ambiance of the holidays. What’s great about this is that it can be easily changed back to regular design. Another way of doing this is to just dress up the home page for the holidays, like Starbucks or Home Depot.

Some sites take a much more simplified approach be creating a campaign from the home page that can be as simple as one ad. For instance, the New York City Ballet’s website just has an ad for the Nutcracker. It’s the first ad you see, clearly making a holiday statement. Also, Orbitz has an ad on their home page that is for a Winter Hotel Sale that takes you to a page that still falls within their standard template.

Another approach is to add simple features or special sections to a site that can be taken down at the end of the season. For example, Billboard has a page devoted to Holiday Songs, and Columbia Sportswear has a holiday gift guide that you can easily get to from a sidebar ad. Again, the advantage of this approach is that, though it still requires advance planning, it is easy to take down after the holidays are over. takes an even simpler approach by adding functionality to their site that simulates falling snow on the home page. It’s subtle, but a nice effect.

Regardless of the approach you decide to take for your site, take into consideration that creating a holiday theme takes planning and budget. The more extensive the changes, the higher the budget. Taking a simplified approach by adding simple decorative elements or landing pages specific for the holidays are options for giving customers a holiday experience with out blowing out the budget.

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