Project Managment Case Study

Sayulita Life

Longstanding Online Travel Hub for Sayulita Mexico

Product Overview

Sayulita Life, a vibrant online vacation and community hub since 2004, stands as the go-to platform for comprehensive information about the tourist destination of Sayulita. As the project manager and creative director, my mission was to revamp Sayulita Life, ensuring it reflects the essence of the community while offering an enhanced user experience. The goal was to create a more seamless and intuitive interface while focusing on delivering clear details about local businesses, dining, shopping, activities, and vacation rentals. The existing site had served its purpose, but a fresh perspective was needed to align with modern design trends and user expectations.

Team: Ian Hodge, Dave Gopal, Dmitry Gritskevich, Maxim Makarenko

Role: Creative Director / Project Manager

Tools: Zoom, Figma, Jira, G-Suite

The Problem

Despite being a longstanding beacon of information for Sayulita, the existing Sayulita Life website faced certain user-centric challenges that necessitated a strategic redesign. Users reported difficulties in navigating through the abundance of information available on the site. Locating specific details about local businesses, events, or rental properties proved cumbersome, undermining the platform’s utility. Additionally, the visual aesthetics of the website required modernization to align with contemporary design standards, to enhance overall user engagement, and to give users a sense of confidence in the site’s offerings. While the site had served the community well, evolving user expectations and advancements in web design called for a thoughtful reimagining. The project aimed to address these pain points, ensuring that Sayulita Life not only retained its wealth of information but also offered a seamless and visually appealing experience for both residents and visitors.

“Users do not have the same confidence in that they once did. We need an updated look and a way for vacationers to use the vast information that we provide.”

— Ian Hodge, Owner

The Solution

The Sayulita Life redesign prioritized user-centricity, focusing on intuitive navigation and streamlined content accessibility. Drawing inspiration from successful competitors and incorporating modern design trends, the revamp aimed for a visually compelling and engaging website. Usability testing validated design decisions, ensuring a user-friendly interface. The project helped once again instill the sense of confidence in Sayulita Life as an interactive online community and solidified its role as the go-to resource for both the local community and travelers. 


The Process

Defining the Opportunity Areas

Based on the initial client meeting and design brief, two focus areas emerged—cluttered interfaces frustrated users and outdated designs were leading to a lack of user’s confidence in the platform. As the Project Manager and Creative Director for the Sayulita Life website revamp, after discussion with the owner, Ian, to better understand his vision, I began by conducting competitor research to inspire and inform our design strategy. Collaborating closely with the designer, we updated the design system with new components, icons, and a more vibrant version of the existing color scheme. We drew on inspiration based on my research of other competitors to create a new look and feel. It was very important to better present photos and information in a more engaging way without losing the depth of the existing site. I provided artistic guidance to align their work with stakeholder’s project objectives, fostering a cohesive vision. Emphasizing a user-centric approach, my goal was that the creative decisions prioritized an optimal user experience throughout the design and development process, evaluated through regular testing. Maintaining a close working relationship with the client, I gathered his insights and preferences, incorporating his input into the creative direction. Working closely with the developers, we tested the functionality of each page and made any needed adjustments. Managing project timelines, implementing continuous quality assurance and improvement processes, and conducting evaluations post-launch was essential to keep the project momentum and to enhance overall user experience.

Next Steps

In the ongoing phase of this project, the immediate focus is on closely monitoring user engagement and feedback. This involves tracking user pathways, click-through rates, and booking rates. We have regular client meetings scheduled to gather qualitative insights to ensure ongoing alignment with his vision and expectations. Iterative design adjustments will be made if needed based on both quantitative and qualitative data to address any identified pain points. Exploration of emerging web design trends and technologies will inform potential future updates to keep the website at the forefront of user experience. Our goal is that the site remains not only visually appealing but also serves as an intuitive and seamless platform of resources for all users.


Learning Opportunities & Takeaways —
The whole process of the web development project brought unique insights. I found it very informative to conduct competitive audits and to learn how to incorporate inspiration into design decisions. It was an ongoing process to keep the user front and center but also balance the client´s vision since this client has had this vision since 2004 and his ideas are a strong guiding factor. With each project, I find it easier to provide more clear and specific feedback to both the designer and developers, and I see how important this is to follow the stakeholder’s timeline and create a more user-centered product.