Graphic displaying how to encourage users to scroll down the page

Hotel Website Design Trends 2015/16… and Their Pitfalls

by Chris McCrow

Statistics show that over 60% of all accommodation bookings will happen online by 2017.

If you want a slice of the action you need a website that leverages modern web technology to give the best possible user experience.

From working extensively within the accommodation sector in 2014/15 here are our top three hotel website design trends for 2015/16; and their pitfalls.

1. Responsive Design Evolved

Responsive web design graphic

We all know that modern websites have to work on everything from the largest computer screen to the smallest mobile phone; in web design lingo, we call this responsive design.

But making a site responsive is one thing, making it user friendly and easy to navigate is quite another!

We’ve seen a definite trend in recent years for “pageless” design. This technique solves the issue of navigation by giving users all the key information about your hotel on a single, long scrolling page, which brings us to our next point.

2. Scrolling Over Clicking

Research shows that modern users prefer to scroll / swipe through content. The numbers prove it too; people convert better on scrolling layouts where we’re able to tell a simple coherent story, instead of allowing users to randomly jump from one page to another.

Beware however, we found from user testing that users weren’t always scrolling down because they didn’t realise there was content below.

Graphic displaying how to encourage users to scroll down the page

3 of the more effective ways to encourage your user to scroll down the page are:

  • 1. Have a background to the side and 3 clear visual edges at the top and sides. As the bottom edge is not visible this will create the impression that more of the site is there using the Gestalt effect.
  • 2. Avoid having horizontal whitespace so something is always overlapping over the bottom of the screen.
  • 3. Have a visual prompt/link to scroll down the page.

The simplest solution we found was to have a downward arrow at the bottom of the page, indicating there was more for the user to discover below.

3. Background Video

Graphical representation of a hero background video

With improving broadband speeds we’re noticed background video has become all the rage, with sites like AirBnB leading the way.

We utilised background video on the Roomspace.com project by showing a guest leisurely preparing breakfast; and in doing so communicated one of the main advantages of booking a serviced apartment over a hotel room (having your own kitchen) in an elegant, captivating way.

A word of warning though, there are still some scenarios where background video isn’t practical, for example on mobile devices or slow internet connections.

The best solution we found was to take a still image from the first frame of video; this can then be loaded instead of the video or displayed while the full video loads in the background.

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