How easy is it for people to navigate your website? Website usability is exactly what it sounds like. So why do we need to write a blog post about it? Because, it’s extremely important for your business. With 86% of affluent travelers starting their booking process online, and 72% of those accessing the lodging website before booking a trip, your website plays an overwhelming role in the decision-making process. There are at least 100 different usability points to test on your website, but we’ll break it down to the most important areas to consider.
First, accessibility is key. Anything that keeps a visitor from finding information on your website is sure to deter any potential customer. Things like small font, low contrast copy, excessive load time and inaccessible menus are examples of inaccessible content, and factors to consider when designing your website. Everyone loves pretty pictures and videos, but nobody likes having to install a flash plugin and staring at a little puzzle piece instead of a beautiful image of your property. It also takes longer for a site to load if there’s too much rich content on the homepage. You can keep it simple and still have a breathtaking image without interfering with accessibility. With accessibility comes the topic of ADA compliance, which is required for every website. Remember that older people, or people with disabilities, account for 57% of all Internet users. “By making your website ADA accessible, you open your doors to more customers. Beyond that benefit, you are also protecting yourself against potentially, expensive lawsuits,” said Bill Mitchell, President of RezStream. For more informationon ADA compliance for your website, please see our article describing the Top 10 ADA Internet Tips.
With our multi-screen world, accessibility from a mobile device is only going to increase. According to Google, a bad mobile website is the #1 reason travelers avoid booking on a mobile device. Mobile accessibility, especially in the travel industry is surefire way to gain new customers.
Next, think clearly in terms of Identity. You want to have a prominent company logo and obvious tagline so the visitor knows they’ve reached the right place. Clearly present your contact information, links to your social networks and your “about us” page on your homepage so the reader can digest the information in 5-10 seconds. Hopefully they’ll be clicking on your contact link or picking up their phone within a minute! From an individual perspective, if I can’t find this information on the homepage, I don’t feel like the company wants my business. Yes, more page views are great, but convenience is best for your customer. Nobody wants to go on a scavenger hunt to find basic information, so give them what they’re looking for on your homepage by clearly presenting your identity.
So, you’ve clearly established your identity and your potential customer has accessed your site successfully, but what’s next? The customer knows what they came to your site to find, so give it to them. The clicking usually begins on a menu item, which should be easy to find and clearly state what comes after the click. If someone clicks on the contact page, it should lead them to an online form, phone number or even a chat option. Clouding someone with booking quotes or photos on a contact page fogs up the website navigation and you still want to be taking the visitor down a clear path. Also, ease up on the menu items and try to narrow it down to 7 or less. Since your most important content is located on your homepage, it’s a good idea to provide easy access on every page. If your company logo links to your homepage, and the image is prominently placed on every page, you’ve nailed a key navigation point.
The bulk of your website is content about your business. This content should be useful, concise yet descriptive and unique. For content to be effective, anything of major importance should be toward the top of the page. If the user has to scroll, their attention may be compromised. Plus, too many words on one page could affect the desire to visit any others. What’s the point of having unique content if it doesn’t include a call to action? Calls to action can actually be placed on every page of your Website if used correctly. Links to other pages should be used sparingly, but a few on one page doesn’t hurt. In fact, links with keywords have a positive impact on SEO. Links should be descriptive and end up at a valid URL. Major headings and page titles should clearly represent the content you have on the page. If you have amazing beaches and you’re trying to show it off, don’t throw in a random picture of a beautiful lodging room with a kitten on the bed. It just doesn’t make sense. Your content must make sense. As for the style of your content, it should remain the same across all pages. Headers, fonts, colors and theme help create the image of your brand. Consistency is key so the visitor knows they've reached the correct Website. Style consistency isn't limited to your Website though. Style should remain consistent across your social networks as well.
With that said, how easy is your website to use? Try putting yourself in your customer's shoes and navigate through your website. Is there anything you can improve in terms of usability?
About Company: RezStream is a website design agency located in Denver, Colorado that offers hospitality solutions including Internet marketing, reservation software and booking engine. Contact us today to receive a free custom website design quote!