Six tips for designing websites in the travel industry

Posted 02/11/2018 by Paige Wollington

Paige Wollington provides her top tips for designing a travel website that is simple and easy to navigate, and ensures a seamless booking experience

Website design is often the determining factor of whether a customer stays or leaves the site. According to the Behaviour and Information Technology Journal, a typical user will form an opinion about a website in 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds)*, while Stanford Web Credibility Research found that 75 percent of users admit to making judgements about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design**.

For many travel websites, which often have hundreds and thousands of holidays destinations or flight details to display on the site, they can often come across as cluttered and disorganised. As such, customers are more likely to look elsewhere for their travel requirements, and it also leaves travel companies in a position where they could be missing out on the opportunity to boost profits and upsell their services.

Designing a website that is simple and easy to navigate will not only ensure a seamless booking experience, but it will also encourage brand loyalty and repeat custom. Here are six tips that travel companies should consider when designing their website:

1. Always consider the target audience

Since there are many different types of travel sites – for example, online travel agents (OTAs), destination management companies (DMCs), travel management companies (TMCs), tour operators, airlines and airports – knowing the target audience is key. The first question that travel companies should consider is what does the target audience want to see? Do they want to see lots of images or read lots of information about a destination before booking?

By grouping together essential information into a ‘key information box’ and having longer text areas with a ‘read more’ functionality is an effective way of engaging the audience. Indeed, it does not overload the user with information and allows a condensed view which is easier to manage, yet important information does not get lost.

Ideally, a user should be able to see a way of booking, if possible, as well as where the destination is, some images, a map and key information. Using tabs or sticky anchor points is a clear way to show what content is available, without having to scroll too far down the page.

2. Build the homepage carefully

It is critical that travel companies build their homepage carefully. This is not least because they can use their homepage to draw users in by allowing them to see their best offers or destinations available. Using a grid style layout on the homepage gives a clean and clear indication of individual offers. In addition, the use of banners can split sections up, allowing a break in page design – this prevents the user from scrolling aimlessly down the page. Small graphics, borders or subtle background changes can also indicate a new section on the site.

3. Use unique images and do not over-do it

It can be very easy to use the same stock images that every other travel site uses, so travel companies should be careful not to overload their site with hundreds of photos that people have seen before. Using unique images is key, however using maps and icons are good alternatives to avoid overuse of stock imagery.

4. Create sections and filters to speed up the booking process

Most users will know what style of holiday suits them, whether it is a family holiday, couples, beach or all inclusive. Having sections for each style of holiday helps users get to what they are looking for quicker. Adding this onto the homepage as a grid block or quick filter section works well, as does having these available in the menu.

5. Making the search function clear and easy-to-use

For travel companies, it is critical that they make it as clear as possible for users to search for their favourite destination or holiday. The majority of search boxes/bars sit at the top of the page for a reason. Ensure that the search is clear, and all labels/placeholders are easy to read. Avoid using too much styling or transitions as it is not necessary, and it can jeopardise the overall user experience. This is not a case of style over substance, but that does not mean that the search needs to be bland.

6. The recommended use of fonts and colour palettes

Keep fonts and colour palettes to a minimum and aim to use a bright or bold colour for actions such as the search button or highlighting prices. By doing so, companies will draw the users’ eye to these sections and encourage them to search, look in more detail at an offer or destination and, ultimately, make a booking. 

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