1 – Keep it simple
The art of a really good hotel website is how it shares the benefits of a complex product in the simplest of ways. Pay particular attention to keeping the language simple, what you want visitors to do and in explaining how they can do it.
2 – Navigation structure and locating information
The website navigation structure should allow visitors to land on any page on your site and easily find their way to go to a page they are more interested in. In order to achieve this, a clear hierarchy and breadcrumbs described below are also important elements.
3 – Have a clear hierarchy
Ensure that you provide a preferential place to what is important. For hotel websites, these start with the “book now” button along with the hotel’s unique selling points.
4 – Use breadcrumbs
To communicate where information sits, which page sits within which section and how to help get back to the main page, these links are very powerful. For example, this could start from Home page > Leisure facilities > Spa > Swimming Pool
5 – Page layout
An uncluttered layout with the most useful information above the fold (visible without scrolling down) has the most impact.
6 – Easy to find information
If you have used a content matrix to develop the core content for your website, then you have all the information that is most relevant to your target audience. This information needs to be easy to find – especially the most commonly sought elements. Eg: how to get there, reviews, availability and pricing etc
7 – Aesthetically pleasing
While strictly not key to navigation, clever use of white spaces can provide a relaxing experience while accentuating and highlighting the placement of call to action buttons like book now, join now or subscribe now.
8 – Quality of “Call to Actions” (CTA’s)
These form a vital part of website navigation especially in the case of a hotel website. The purpose of the hotel website is to narrate an interesting and visually appealing story but also to lead the visitor along the booking path to book your hotel. Using the appropriate number of CTAs, their placement and the language used is key to its effectiveness.
9 – Responsive design
The website needs to work on all devices consistently ie desktop, tablet and mobile as bookers cross over from one device to another at different stages of the booking process.
10 – Consistency in colours and other visual elements
This creates familiarity and makes it feel easy to visitors and makes them feel more comfortable using your hotel website.
11 – Use widely accepted navigation in a standard place
Quirkiness and being unique is inherent to a boutique hotel. However this may work against you when developing an easily navigable website. Consider standard placement areas for the header navigation bar, sidebar, and footer. Make use of those areas in ways that most online users are used to finding what they need.
12 – Accessibility
It is important that your website is accessible to everyone including those with hearing, visual and other disabilities. This means ensuring that the website is usable using the keyboard alone (without using a mouse), you use captions and alt tags on images for users who use a screen reader, having videos that have sub-titles, and keeping a minimum font-size 16px etc. Dynamic content will need special attention and may need to be flagged differently.
13 – Conversion funnel
Think through the information your target audience need to see in order to overcome the objections they have? It could be to do with trust and reputation for example. How can you help move people through the buyer’s journey toward conversion?
14 – Website navigation menus
Ensure that the key menus include header menus, sidebars and footers (where needed a fat footer gives you more options to highlight certain additional information). Give them reasons to click on links by inspiring curiosity and enticing them with great offers. For mobile, check that the “Hamburger menu” fulfils the needs of your target audience.
15 – Well thought-out sidebars
Sidebars should stand out from the other parts of the website. This could be using a different colour or by using a different design element.
16 – Page load time
Speed is essential especially with todays online consumer in mind. Otherwise it leads to page abandonment. No amount of thought and planning that goes into navigation will be helpful if page load time exceeds the minimum expectations. 3 seconds is considered a good middleground but anything below 2 seconds is ideal.
17 – Search
Search is extremely important in website navigation. You want visitors to be able to find what they want through a simple search of your site. Allowing people to search your site saves them time and reduces your bounce rate.
18 – Ease of booking
Saving time should be a key emphasis of the booking path. Minimise the number of steps in the booking process where possible. Ensure that the booking screen is above the fold and bookers do not have to scroll or click through to different pages to be able to book.
19 – Contact
Contact information is essential even when you have a seamless booking experience so that guests can make a quick clarification if needed. You want it visible across all pages on your website.
20 – Heatmaps
Lastly, heatmaps are very useful tools to show you how your visitors behave when on your website. This is important to understand which areas of the website are popular, which are not and therfore analyse and helps improve overall navigation.