First Free Story (1 of 3)

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On this redesigned Priceline homepage (August 3, 2013), William Shatner (aka The Negotiator) still lives, but it’s all about 45% off Express Deals these days.

Earlier this year (June 5, 2013), the design of Priceline’s homepage was a tad bland, and the company emphasized Name Your Own Price bidding to a greater degree than it does today.

The Priceline homepage on June 17, 2005, is a jumble of rebates, discounts and deals competing for your attention. There’s nothing about Priceline Express Deals and Tonight Only deals because they didn’t exist. Wayback Machine

The Priceline homepage on June 12, 2001, before 9/11 changed the world. Notice the now-forgotten tagline: “Airline Tickets at Warehouse Prices!” Wayback Machine

This is a version of the Priceline homepage on December 6, 1998, during the year Priceline went online. It was all about Name Your Price (not Name Your Own Price) bidding, and that was the only way to buy anything on the site. Wayback Machine

Priceline has quietly redesigned its homepage, and in line with its very successful 2013 advertising campaign, one that has put rival Hotwire on its heels, actor William Shatner returns to the homepage after being missing in action for awhile, along with his advertising-sidekick Kaley Cuoco, and Priceline’s Express Deals product really comes to the fore.

To get an idea of what’s going on, take a look first at Priceline’s homepage today, and beneath that is the homepage from June 2013. (And see above for an historical slideshow on Priceline’s homepages over the years, replete with the 2001 tagline, “Airline Tickets at Warehouse Prices!”

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Here’s the prior homepage, as of June 2013, courtesy of WayBack Machine.

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In the new homepage, Priceline has injected some personality, compared with the previous version, cleaned things up by reducing the amount of real estate devoted to its search widget, and made Express Deals (with discounts of up to 45% without bidding, and no need for Shatner negotiations) much more prominent.

The homepage in June indeed has an Express Deals ad on the right side of the page, but the redesigned homepage places Express Deals just beneath the search box, and pushes down Name Your Own Price to the extent that it flirts with being invisible below the fold. Last Minute Deals are also given more emphasis in the redesign, although they are lower on the page than before.

Name Your Own Price as an After-Thought

Name Your Own Price (you bid on hotels, flights and cars, but don’t know the supplier’s identity until after purchase) still is present on the homepage, but it is an after-thought compared with Express Deals. With Express Deals, Priceline finally gave a bow to the Hotwire way of doing things: You know the price up-front and there’s no bidding required.

There are other subtle changes in the new homepage. Cruises, Activities, Pricebreaker Deals, Hotel Guides, and Hotels for Groups have all been removed from the tabs on  top of the page and to the right of the logo, and have been relegated to a subordinate position within the More tab. And Rewards have disappeared completely from the homepage navigation.

Also, if you are really keeping score, Priceline, bowing to the importance of selling hotel rooms, has changed the order of its products in the search widget. Where in June, from left to right, Priceline displayed Flights, Hotels, Cars, Vacations and Cruises, the redesign loves hotels more than flights, and the order is Hotels, Flights, Cars, Vacation Packages, Cruises and More.

Hotels are also listed first (to the far left) on the redesigned homepage in the Name Your Own Price display, whereas previously Flights were shown first.

In sum, Priceline’s redesigned homepage is more visually appealing and cleaner than the previous incarnation, and accomplishes its goals of emphasizing Express Deals, as that’s where the company figures the money is.

Priceline isn’t making any big announcements about the redesign, but this is what Priceline spokesperson Leslie Cafferty tells Skift about the changes: “We are constantly testing and implementing new changes to our site in order to optimize the user experience, and this is no different. Making the consumer experience as seamless as possible is the overarching goal behind everything we do on the site.”

Speaking of money, Priceline has been making a ton of it from its series of Shatner-Cuoco Express Deals ads.

This advertisement, Priceline – Breakout, currently has more than 3 million views on YouTube: