January 21, 2015
Everyone knows you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we're just not that forgiving when
it comes to websites. If you want your property's website to make a great first impression, here are a
handful of the hottest design trends to consider for your website's makeover.
With modern travelers seeking moments they can Instagram and tweet about, hotel Web content is
shifting away from pages of descriptive text about property features and amenities, to conveying an
experience, not just an overnight stay. The story your customers want to know is what a stay at your
property is really like, from the morning coffee on the sun-drenched patio to stargazing from the hot tub
after a day exploring local sights and activities (which are also part of the tale). On your website, the
best way to immerse customers in the story of your property is through a range of media - photos,
video, text, blog posts, and social media and review feeds, that blend together to form a cohesive
narrative and recreate the experience of staying at your property. The Peninsula Hotels provides an
Using a variety of media on your website is not only a great way to immerse your customers in the story
of your property, but it is also a great SEO technique; Google likes multimedia sites because users do.
Just be careful that images and videos are not so large that they slow down your site. Long load times
are detrimental to site ranking, not to mention the average user won't wait more than three seconds (or
six seconds on mobile) for pages or images to load.
Whatever your story is, keep it real. Don't mislead your customers into thinking you're something you're
not - that's a sure fire way to disappoint guests and they'll definitely tweet about that.
Along with the storytelling trend comes bountiful imagery. High-quality, relevant images and video
establish authenticity and help to strengthen your brand. One of the latest eye-catching trends is to use
photos that go across the full width of the page, like those on the websites of the Bearfoot Inn and
Maligne Rafting Adventures. Big, beautiful images immediately engage our emotions and evoke a sense
of place. Inspire your customers to imagine themselves at your property by putting guests in the
picture... If your property attracts vacationing families over summer, you could use images of kids
splashing happily in the pool, and to appeal to your snowboarding clientele over winter, use pictures of
them on the nearby slopes, or après-ski by the fire in your cozy lobby.
We're also starting to see images as page backgrounds - a space that, until now, was largely
underutilized. We really like how the Pender Harbour Resort does this.
Even responsive, HTML video can be embedded into page backgrounds now. Or videos can simply be
embedded from YouTube, or included in a rotating carousel along with stunning photos. Recent research by Software Advice, a company that evaluates hotel management systems, revealed that 51
percent of leisure travelers and 69 percent of business travelers watch online travel videos. The research
also shows exactly what travelers like to see in hotel videos, so we recommend having a read.
And remember, as mentioned above, under "Immersive Storytelling," it's very important to keep page
load times to a minimum. Your Web designer should know how to optimize media files (if not, give us a
call!), but for the technically inclined, this Wix post offers some great image optimization tips.
Long scrolling is a Web design trend that's become popular across many different industries. The idea is
that most content is displayed on a single page, accessed by scrolling up or down the page, as opposed
to clicking through to subpages via multiple drop-down menus. Born of mobile Web browsing, in which
scrolling is faster and more intuitive than clicking, long scrolling is an elegant technique and especially
effective for storytelling. The citizenM New York Times Square website is a cool example.
However, it can be overdone. Too much information on a single page can make it difficult for search
engines to index the site, negatively impacting SEO. To get around this, scrolling with pagination allows
the user to enjoy a single-page experience, while multiple component pages serve the search bots. It
gets very technical, but Google offers some helpful suggestions for making long scrolling pages search friendly. We think the Buffalo Ridge Resort takes a nice, balanced approach.
Responsive Web Design for Mobile First
We've always been advocates of responsive Web design, and we believe the trend toward it will
continue to grow stronger. Google is a big fan too; they've been ranking responsive sites higher in
mobile search results for a while now, and, late last year, the search engine giant rolled out its "mobile-friendly" label to help users identify mobile-friendly sites on mobile search engine results pages.
So while responsive design is more of a norm now, we think the new trend within responsive design is
designing for mobile first. Up until now, responsive websites have typically been designed for desktop
first, with the design adapting for smaller screens. Going forward, we'll see responsive site design
focused on mobile first, adapting to desktop screens. We're seeing it on sites like Rawnet, with long
scrolling, slide-out menus and an app-like feel on a desktop screen.
Finally, we can't think about website design (and maintenance) without thinking about SEO. Search
engine optimization is a fundamental component of Web design; after all, what's the point in having a
beautiful website if no-one can find it? Our recent post about SEO mistakes to avoid offers some helpful