Did you know that online shoppers expect webpages to load in under two seconds and that at three seconds they may abandon the site and a possible reservation?
These days, online shoppers expect a lot out of your website and want it to work the way they expect it to. Meaning you have to design your site both in a way that works well for online visitors and one that properly shares the experience of staying at your property.
You know how to best sell your property, so let us tell you how to best design your website!
1. Responsive design: These days having a responsive, or at the very least mobile-friendly, website is imperative. You cannot ignore this factor, your website must display well across a variety of platforms and devices to succeed amongst your competition. Because if you haven’t heard, Google looks at your site and knows if it will play well with a mobile device and if it doesn’t, Google won’t show your website to users performing a search on a smartphone.
2. Quick load: Like we said above, your site needs to load and it needs to load quickly. Remove unnecessary elements of your website, compress photos, and run tests on site speed frequently to see if anything could be slowing your site down. Keep the site design simple and use white space to allow the important things on your site to stand out.
3. Use photos: If you don’t have photos of your actual property on your website your potential guests are going to wonder what you’re hiding from them and be very wary to book with you. Have up to date photography that shows them the room, not a close-up of the faucet in the bathroom or the chair by the window, but show them the whole picture. You may also want to use videos to help the online visitor really see and understand what you offer, but please do not have these videos set to autoplay! Nothing makes a user leave your website faster than unexpected noise, so no autoplay videos or music. Ever.
4. Fresh content: We’ve talked about content marketing quite a bit and keeping your website updated with fresh content such as new activity pages or blog entries, but one thing that’s often overlooked are dates or outdated content. We’ve come across websites that say, “Rates current as of 2013.” What? It’s the backend of 2015! If your rates aren’t current on your website your guests may wonder what else could be outdated or stale at your property.
5. Strategic calls to action: Use creative and strategically placed calls to action (CTA). Most website designers use the button form of CTAs and there are a lot of studies done around the color, size, and placement of these buttons. Each website will be different and you’ll want to find the one that works best for your brand, but understanding how to use CTAs to capture your online visitors’ attention and how to use them to guide them through the booking process is important. In the example below, online visitors are offered two options and using first person makes it very personable to them. You could do this on your hotel's website by saying, "I want to make a reservation" or "I want to learn more about Denver."
Photo credit: WordStream
6. Make it secure: Another thing that Google uses to rank your website is its security. Does your website have an HTTP or HTTPS designation? HTTPS is the way to go not only to show Google you’re serious about your online visitors’ security but to show your online visitors that their credit card information is safe and confidential when they make their booking. If your booking engine isn’t secure, your guest may book on Expedia or TripAdvisor costing you a commission when you could have had them book direct!
7. Incorporate third-party elements: A new trend is creating streams of your social media channels so online visitors can see what you’re posting on social media as well as what others are saying about you. If you have TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence, share those badges and links to your reviews or pull reviews directly into your site. Let the online visitor learn about you through your guests so they’re more comfortable booking through your website.
Photo Credit: Tint
What elements do you think are most important for website usability? Tell us in the comments section below!