Creating a compelling and effective hotel website means balancing several pivotal goals. You’ll need to ensure your site meets all the required business objectives, tells a compelling story, accurately reflects your brand, is designed beautifully and ultimately delights and surprises your visitors. On a technical level, your website should also be optimized to work on any device, easy to navigate, load quickly and be ADA compliant.
Form follows function is a time-tested design philosophy, and websites are the perfect example of this in action. What do we want visitors to be able to do and how can we help them do it simply and easily? A great user experience is all about the intersection of these two questions and the definition of UX/UI design.
Let’s dive a little deeper …
Business objectives & user flows
Booking a room, browsing onsite activities, looking at dinner menus, and reserving a massage are all examples of both business functions and User Flows that might be included on a website. A User Flow is simply the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. Determining these in the discovery phase of a website design should be the team’s number one priority and drive every design decision as well.
An effective web design is nothing without great content and an honest, heartfelt story that tells guests about your brand, service philosophy and amenities. What can your guest expect to experience on property? Is your hotel casual and laid back, sporty and adventurous, or sophisticated and luxurious? Why should a potential guest choose to spend their precious vacation time with you? What can you say that will help them to complete the business objectives and user flows mentioned previously? Creating the right tone and voice for your website, and writing compelling, on-brand content is an integral part of the overall design and experience of a website. Content creation should be one of the first steps in your process as it will often inform both the aesthetics and layout of your website as well.
Your website navigation is the primary system visitors will use to interact with your content, whether they are looking for in-room amenities, the hours your restaurant is open, or what meeting space is available. A well-organized navigation is key to retaining visitors and limiting user frustration – if visitors cannot quickly and easily find the information they are looking for, they’ll leave without booking. Keeping the navigation simple, intuitive and keyed to the overall business objectives is essential for a positive and seamless website experience.
Branding & design
Once you have worked out your business goals, navigation, and content strategy, you can focus on the aesthetics of your new site. Since your website is often the guest’s first impression of your property, it is important that it accurately reflects the look and feel of your brand while providing the essential information guests need to book a stay. Determining what elements and functionality should be on every page before design begins ensures the best user experience throughout. Color, typography, images, video and UI elements are all devices used in combination to create exciting and engaging layouts for your website.
Delight & surprise
This is an often-overlooked aspect of website design that should be seriously considered as users become more and more savvy and sites become more and more similar. What little details can we add to the design to delight and surprise? These can be simple micro-interactions like animated buttons, or more complex interactive elements like property maps or parallax effects. The point is to polish the design once everything else is done to set yourself apart from the masses and demonstrate your attention to detail.
Your website’s user experience should be seamless across all devices, period. If a user starts his/her research on a desktop and then returns to your website later on their phone, it should be obvious how to find and do whatever is needed.
Load time/technical considerations
Waiting for a website to load will lose you visitors. Nearly half of web visitors expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and with each additional second it takes to load, the more likely they will leave your site in search of a more rewarding experience. Optimizing for speed and performance is a key component to a successful website regardless of the content.
Having an accessible website is a 2020 Best Practice. We are experts in seamless, fully WCAG 2.1 compliant accessible websites. Our accessible websites meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards and can reach more users while maintaining your preferred design and branding by utilizing the four principles of Accessible Design – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.
We ensure your website’s accessible features are seamlessly integrated with your website’s design and information architecture.
At Cendyn, we apply these practices to every project that we undertake and are confident that we can help you create a website that will accurately reflect your property while helping you achieve your business goals.