Designing a website for optimal user experience (UX) is essential to any business – after all, an effortless user experience clears the path to conversion. But the hospitality industry has taken a more specific turn in the digital era – a hotel website is now the place where the guest experience actually begins. Long before a traveler enters your facility to be awaited by a hospitable staff, their experience with your business had commenced the moment they’ve visited your website.
That said, your website is not only a powerful tool for conversions and establishing a trusting relationship with visitors, but its role in the overall customer experience means it’s also one of the deciding factors in getting positive reviews once they’ve left your hotel. Just like your services and features outside of the digital world will be tailored to customers’ expectations, your website design will rely on factors that are important to visitors in order to provide optimal user experience. Here are the things to pay attention to and improve your hotel UX web design.
With the number of global smartphone users continually rising, responsive design and mobile optimization have become the norm. When it comes to hotels, researchers estimate that by 2019 almost 70% of all online travel bookings will be made on mobile devices. That said, it’s best to approach website design from a mobile-first perspective, and then build upwards for larger screens.
Considering your visitors are travelers, you can expect that a large portion of them visits your website while on the go, accessing it from their smartphone – and that might be from another travel destination with limited bandwidth. If your mobile version can’t provide the same functionality as the desktop version, focus on usability rather, providing the basics, and include the link to the full website for further information.
Potential customers come to your website expecting to get an idea of what a stay at your hotel would be like. Ultimately, your website needs to be visually driven in order to entice their imagination and evoke a positive emotional response. They want to see all the features of your establishment, but more than that, you need to use your website to tell a story in order to grasp your visitors’ attention and trust. This will be an exhibition of your hospitality, your values, and style, consequently leading them to connect with your brand and envision pleasant experiences that your facility will be in the center of.
Needless to say, your website will rely on enticing and high-quality photographs to present the facility. Keep in mind that honesty and naturalness are an important part of a brand’s storytelling – you want to be authentic and show all your best features, but without overplaying it and leaving room for distrust.
Lastly, visual storytelling is not limited to images only. Pay attention to all the visual details of your web design, and that includes typography and iconography. Every element is a chance to showcase your identity and elicit positive reactions.
Help visitors make informed decisions
A Google study from 2014 has shown us that 60% of travelers on average rely on search engines first when planning trips online. That means that when people visit your website, a large portion of them have done their research already and are turning to your source in order to compare prices, get more in-depth information, look for special deals, or seek to book directly (which is, naturally, the ultimate goal of your website).
Your website is there to help them make their decision, and the more informed they feel, the higher chance of direct booking. The images you put on display, as we’ve mentioned previously, are the first step to providing them with the visuals they need in order to make an informed decision. But to truly design a hotel website for optimal UX, you need to take it a step further and include features which allow them to compare room types and rates effectively. This typically requires more expertise so you’ll need to do some research and find reliable website development agencies that can develop the most effective and user-friendly features for comparing options. Considering it is something that saves users’ time and makes your website a valuable resource for trip planning, it’s highly beneficial to encouraging direct bookings.
Emphasize important information
A seamless user experience entails a clean and uncluttered user interface which allows visitors to scan and navigate the website without confusion or hesitation, giving them what they came for in the shortest time possible. Essentially, your website design guides your visitors’ focus, presenting them with relevant information and steering their navigation.
First and foremost, you need to consider what visitors might be looking for in a hotel such as yours and pinpoint your relevant features. Is it luxury, entertainment, family-friendly options, etc.? Rather than throwing all your features without any hierarchy or focus, categorize them and emphasize your unique offers. For example, if you own a boutique hotel, visitors will want to know what separates it from others and your website needs to clearly note your unique selling points – again, it’s the importance of storytelling.
Also, keep in mind that the “book now” button should be clearly visible and consistently featured throughout the website. It’s your call-to-action button and it needs to stand out, so make sure it contrasts the background but in good taste so that the overall website design is not compromised.
You can also plug in a Tripadvisor widget so visitors can see reviews without leaving your website. This would be extremely beneficial to overall UX and leading your visitors down the path of conversion. Trust is an important factor when helping visitors make informed decisions, so always encourage guests to leave hotel reviews and showcase them effectively.
Your hotel UX web design can always be improved on, as you pay close attention to current trends and customers’ expectations. This requires constant analysis so you can make decisions backed by data, as well as extensive user testing. Ultimately, you’re aiming to design a website that reflects your hotel’s identity while being optimized for conversions and entirely user-oriented. This is a challenging task that doesn’t come with universal instructions, but with a good team of professionals it definitely can be achieved – and that’s when your website becomes the ideal extension of your facility.