With people being able to do almost anything online, it goes without saying that the design of your website is of great importance. This is especially important for the hospitality industry. In fact, a recent Google report shows that 83 per cent of leisure travellers and 76 per cent of business travellers plan their trips online.
Worryingly, many hotels don’t realise that merely having a website is not enough. The new generation of travellers want much more from their online experience – not just a few pages with information. If you’re unsure how to improve it though, then no need to worry, because we’ve put together our top tips to improve your website…
When it comes to your website design, the content is just as important as the actual layout. Think about who your audience is and what they will want to know. You need to know the main demographic that you’re trying to attract, be it families, business travellers, honeymooners, backpackers or ecotourists. Each of these groups will be interested in different information, so you need to make sure that you know your guest persona. However, you don’t want to exclude any group, so make sure that all of the information is available – you just want to gear your main pages towards your most frequent guests. As well as the written content, you want to think about the imagery. It needs to illustrate the personality of your hotel and show what you can offer to guests. Having poor-quality or no images at all will put people off – as they can instead book with a hotel that is showing them the quality they can expect.
Menu and navigation
You might think that the menu and navigation is actually a very small aspect of your website – but that’s where you’re wrong. If a potential guest is finding it difficult to navigate your website and find the information they’re looking for, then they’ll quickly move on to one of your competitors. You want to organise all of your content into categories, which will be the headings that appear on the navigation menu. It’s a good idea to limit yourself to about seven, so that it doesn’t become too crowded. Don’t forget – you can always include subcategories within each of the pages if necessary. The most commonly used categories on hotel websites are: Home, Room & Rates, Gallery, Things to Do, Location and Contact Us. You don’t need to stick to these, but whatever you go for, try to create a simple trail that users can follow to find the information they need.
Branding and design
The branding and design on your website is hugely important, as this shows guests the personality of your hotel, and is often the thing that will give them their first impression. Put simply – if a guest sees your website as poor, they will have the same impression of your hotel. You want the colour, icons and images to match the look of the hotel itself, so that it clearly signifies your brand. Try to keep colours relatively neutral, although you could use one brighter colour to add vibrancy to the website. Your font needs to be easy to read and in a colour that can easily be seen against the background. For body text that will be displayed on a screen, a sans-serif font (such as Arial, Verdana or Tahoma) is generally preferred over a serif font (such as Times New Roman) or funky font (like Comic Sans). Save those fonts for headers or other accent text.
While you might want to get creative with the layout of your website, you don’t want to make it so complex that guests find it difficult to navigate. The navigation menu should be on every page in a consistent location. You want every page to follow a similar style, so that guests know where it is they’re looking for information. Also, make sure that the entire page is no more than 860 pixels wide so that it can be seen fully on all monitors. Try to minimise scrolling by separating the information into different pages. If there’s important information at the bottom of a long page, you’ll find that users don’t even get to see it because they’ve not scrolled down that far. If you find that you really need more space, then try to split the content into columns so that it can all be seen easily. Ideally, your web designer will have all of the skills and knowledge to create a solid website, but it’s important that you know the basics to make sure that you’re not paying for a website that will turn away potential guests.