Having a good, well designed website is vital in this day and age. For the majority of your customers the web page will probably be their first impression of your tourism business and of the experience you offer. It will also likely be the primary way by which customers book your services. A well designed web page with the right content should be informative and inspire enough confidence that a customer will have no need to contact you for questions or concerns before making a booking.
This is not simply a matter of good content. You could have some of the best written content on the internet. Nothing but the most sterling reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers. Offer excellent deals on services and packages. But a poorly designed or aesthetically unpleasing web page could drive customers away before they even look at your content.
Even though there are experts and professionals who can help you in designing your website you should still understand what goes into web design. What you should keep in mind and consider even if you are working alongside those who have made careers out of web design.
In this article we will show you some key guidelines when it comes to web design. Things to keep in mind when you are either redesigning your current website or even creating a new one for your new tourism business.
Usability and User Experience
These two concepts will be running themes throughout the various guidelines discussed in this article. How you incorporate usability and user experience into all the guidelines here will be what sets your website from the countless others you will be competing with on the internet.
- Usability- the ease with which someone (a potential customer) can use your website for its intended purpose (such as information and booking).
- User Experience- how much someone enjoys interacting with your website whether due to its look, convenience, or personality.
While aesthetics can certainly play a role in how people respond to your website, do not go overboard on aesthetics. In fact, unless something is vital to the function of your website it should not be there. Simplicity is key. After all, for the vast majority of the people who will arrive at your website they are there to complete a transaction. Or at the very least learn about whether you are the one to have that transaction with.
Excessive design elements could be too much for potential customers. Distracting them from what they came to your website to do.
Simplicity is especially important when keeping usability and user experience in mind.
Simplicity can be applied in regards to:
- Colors– according to the Handbook of Computer-Human Interaction you should use at most five different colors on your webpages. Even then you might be better serves using just three or four. Use colors that resonate with the tourism destination and the emotional experience you want to invoke with that destination. If you have brand colors use them on your website.
- Typefaces– Do not use any fonts that are overly fancy. Legibility, how easily people can read your content is much more important than style. Keep the script fonts to a minimum. Only if you absolutely have to use them. When it comes to text coloring also keep it minimal and it must contrast with whichever background color you have picked. You should use no more than three distinct typefaces in no more than three different sizes.
- Graphics– Absolutely do not use graphics unless they are necessary for a customer to complete their objective or for executing a specific function. Graphics can not only be a distraction they can slow down a website’s load time and responsiveness. They may even interfere with core functions. Like booking. Nothing frustrates a customer more than having pointless graphics slow down or prevent them from completing a transaction. That is a fast way to lose potential customers.
Visual hierarchy refers to how a website’s visual elements are arranged so as to better organically guide visitors to what is important. This ties into simplicity partly because if your web page is too complicated or busy then there can be no visual hierarchy.
Good visual hierarchy can improve usability and user experience by guiding visitors towards finishing specific actions or transactions. But it also does so in a way that feels organic and possibly even enjoyable.
By controlling things like colors, typefaces, and graphics (if really necessary) you can organize web pages such that viewers will more likely be drawn to the most important things first before noticing the less important but still necessary things.
Navigability cannot be understated when it comes to your website. Visitors will come to your website looking for specific things and will get frustrated if they cannot easily find what they are looking for. A website designed with usability and user experience in mind should be easy and clear for a visitor to move from one page in the website to another. Visitors should not have to take a best guess and hope they are heading in the right direction.The more user-friendly and easier to navigate your website the more likely a customer will engage with the content and what you have to offer.
- Make sure the structure of your website’s primary navigation tool is simple, uncomplicated and located close to your page’s top. Also do not place too many navigation options on each page.
- Have a navigation bar at the footer of your site and thus all your pages. This way users will not have to scroll up after reaching the bottom.
- Think about setting up breadcrumbs to appear on every page. This way visitors can easily remember how they navigated your website or backtrace to something they want to go over again.
- Have a search bar close to your website’s top so that visitors can search using keywords.
- Incorporate links inside your page content. Be clear where those links will take visitors.
- Make sure users will not have to “go too deep” into your website. To better visualize this concept make a wireframe map of all your website’s individual pages. This should look like a pyramid with your homepage at the very top. Each layer of the pyramid should be made up of pages linked from the one above. This pyramid should only have three layers. Any more than would be making visitors “go too deep.”
- Keep the navigation tools and labels consistent throughout your entire website.
The look, feel, and layout of your web pages needs to be consistent across your website. Everything needs to be consistent even if different pages have different content and purposes. Things like typeface, coloring, background, and the tone of the writing throughout the website, all need to be consistent.
That said you can have variety in layouts. Especially if different pages fulfill different purposes. Have specific layout structures set for specific types of web pages. Landing pages should have different layouts compared to informational pages for example. Consistent layouts for different categories of pages helps reinforce in users’ minds what a page’s purpose is and that they are in the right place.
Here are two statistics to illustrate why responsivity is important:
- 48%– Statista found that 48% of page views around the world came from mobile devices. Tablets. Smartphones. This means near half of website viewers are viewing through their mobile devices.
- 93%– According to research carried out by HubSpot 93% of people leave a website after it failed to load correctly on whichever device they were using.
Considered together these numbers translate to a higher than ever need for your websites to be compatible with as many devices and browsers as possible. Remember what was said about graphics? This is one of the big reasons why. Not all devices or browsers may be able to support the graphics you use.
For the sake of maximizing usability and user experience you will need to devote time and resources into having a website structure that is flexible.
To that end there are two approaches you can use when designing your website to be accessible on as many devices, screens, and browsers as possible.
Responsive or Adaptive
Responsive designed web pages are incredibly accessible across a majority of devices and all screen sizes. There are also many templates that are available for you to use. Though it should be noted that in order to maintain quality you will need to be as extensive in testing your web pages as you will be in designing them.
Alternative to a responsive approach you can also try the adaptive design method for your website. Still keeping in mind the importance of mobile device compatibility you can design your website to provide a version of itself suited for the device accessing it.
Both responsive and adaptive have their pros and cons. Adaptive designed websites maintain most cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility. They are easier to design and edit. Adaptive designed pages tend to load quickly which is good for usability and user experience. However, adaptive designed websites can still fail to work properly when viewed on smaller desktop browser windows. You would also be limited in the effects you can implement. Responsive designed websites require a greater deal of time and effort. A level of detail much higher compared to adaptive design. They also necessitate more extensive testing to make sure responsive designed web pages are working across all devices and browsers.
Web DesigIn Summary
The heart of having a good website is how easy it is for someone to use and the experience they have using it. Usability and User Experience. Whether you are working with professionals or doing it yourself always keep those two things in mind. They will shape how you approach every component of your website.