There are many details you can get wrong with your event venue or hotel website design – some functional, some aesthetic. Remember – design isn’t just how something looks, but how it works, too. Whether you’re a wedding venue, DMO, or boutique hotel, you’re in the business of customer service and attention to detail, meaning, these are things you should be getting right. The good news? You don’t need to be a hospitality marketing agency to quickly evaluate your website for the following ten (very fixable!) flaws.
1. Failing the 3-Second Test
Can a visitor who has little-to-no context understand exactly what your business does when they land on your homepage? You have 3 seconds – if that – to make your case. There should be text (no more than a sentence) and an image that, together, tell your story effectively. To measure this, keep an eye on your bounce rate in Google Analytics. This is the percentage of visits in which the people browsing your site leave without exploring it any further. The lower the bounce rate, the better.
2. Using an Email Address Rather Than a Form
You should always use forms on your website rather than just directing people to an email address. It’s the only way to get complete visibility into what’s converting business on your website and what’s not when looking at your analytics. If you just feature an email address and a phone number, you’ll never know! And remember – there’s an easy way to calculate the value of one of these leads.
3. Looonngg Forms
Now that we know you’re using forms, the question is whether your form is serving you well. You need fields for name and email, but beyond that, ask yourself if you really need the field, because you want to limit the friction to someone pressing that “submit” button. Do you really need a phone number at this stage in the qualification process or will your potential customer find it obtrusive? In our messaging-dominated world, some people get skittish about the idea of a business calling them, so they may abandon your form. Also, carefully consider what other information you need to begin a conversation. If you have a long form, but only a few of those fields are required, it will still look daunting, and many will skim past it. Depending on the quality of the leads you’re receiving, tinker with the length, format, and fields of the form to strike the right balance between volume and quality.
4. Fumbling the Navigation
Hopefully, you’ve only included the most important things in your navigation – and hopefully, that navigation is at the top of the page. Assuming you’ve done that, remember that people generally scan left to right. Put the most important things on the left, in descending order of importance. Also, if you have drop-down menus, put navigation links in there that make sense – don’t use any of them as a junk drawer. Finally, label menu items clearly. Don’t get too cute or vague with any of them. The point of menus is to help people find what they’re looking for quickly. Don’t get in the way of that.
5. A Buried CTA
CTAs are supposed to funnel people into the behavior you most want them to take at a particular stage. If you have a CTA in your header (and you should, since it’ll be consistent on every page) make sure that it’s a different color (or at least bolder) than the other menu items, ideally in the form of a button. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but most people expect CTAs to appear on the far right of the navigation.
6. Hard-to-Read Typefaces
The rule of thumb: Any more than two typefaces on a page (one for headers, one for body text) is probably too many and detracts from readability. If you’re going to use a serif font for body text, make sure it’s not too busy – some old ones have a lot of curvature and flair that make them hard to read. In the same vein, don’t use fonts that are too thin, or too light-colored, and avoid lots of text in all caps (it’s hard to read). Your webpage’s text may look great on a big, high-res iMac screen, but how does it look on an old monitor, or a phone? To sum it up: Keep the body text between 12 and 16 points, make sure it’s easy to read, and test it on different types of screens to make sure you get it right.
7. Daunting Walls of Texts
Never trust that your visitors will read a passage of text. Tell the essential story with your headers. Assume that they’ll scan your page, and make it easy for them to do so by breaking up text with subheads. Otherwise, long blocks of text are one of the dead giveaways that you have a DIY website.
8. Poor Photos
If your photos look like (or are!) old iPhone pictures, they’ll send the wrong message to visitors, particularly for those marketing wedding venues and destinations. Make it a priority to get higher quality, updated photos – even the iPhone camera has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Just look for detail shots that will still be relevant and make sense for your business. A restaurant, for example, shouldn’t use a photo of a wedding-dressed dinner table. It’s OK to be aspirational, but don’t stray too far from reality.
9. Background Photos with Sloppily-Overlaid Text
The background photo with text overlaid is a popular look for websites, particularly in a lot of WordPress and Squarespace templates. The one simple mistake that way too many are guilty of is not considering whether the text will be legible with the photos you’ll actually be using. It can be tough to picture when looking at the design, but what you want to consider is how much contrast the photos will have and is there a drop shadow or other element that allows the overlaid text to be legible. If you go for this sort of design, just make sure you evaluate the legibility after you load the content, and swap (or adjust) the photo as needed.
10. External Links in the Same Window
When linking to external websites, make sure that those links open in a new tab, not load in the same window. It bears repeating: Anything that’s not living on your website should open in a new tab. You did work to get the visitor to your website; don’t let them leave unless they absolutely intend to. This is a simple step that’s easy to update when inserting links, just one that you never want to overlook.