Web Design Trends for Travel Websites

Nowadays, businesses in all industries acknowledge the need for a properly designed website. The travel industry and the different business categories it encompasses are no exception. There are many reasons for this, for starters travel agencies, hotels and tour operators want to deliver the best service to their customers, and in order to do that they need to keep their website in the best conditions.

Another reason to be up to date with web design trends is competition. The travel and tourism industry is highly competitive and is always finding ways to improve, so businesses are always searching for the best travel website design inspiration to be one step (or more) ahead of their competition.

There are many topics to consider for your travel site, and here is where we explore some of those topics for you. Whether you are tackling it in-house or looking for help from an agency like Forager Media Group, it is always good to have best practices in mind.

Image taken from Vidanta’s website (https://www.vidanta.com/)

Branding for travel agencies and tour operators

Branding is the first aspect a tourism website needs to consider and it can be a bit tricky. You want your visitors to connect with your business and your brand, but you also want them to focus on the travel experience and the amazing destination you are located. Sometimes even beautiful design can be a distraction, and you don’t want your potential customers to get distracted before they book. You need to remember that in this case travel and tourism are your products and services. There’s no reason you can’t associate the experiences your customers will enjoy when they travel with your own brand, especially if your business adds to the experience.

Competition is another aspect of branding that can be hard for a travel business. After all, how are you supposed to compete with a business that covers the same places that you do? Well, differentiation here is key. You need to keep in mind that it isn’t about the tours and destinations, it is about the people that visit them. Keeping in mind the wants and needs of your potential customers makes the process of differentiating your travel business from the competition more straightforward.

The same applies when you’re designing your new travel site. If your key differentiator is comfort for example, your web design should reflect that from the moment your visitors first see your homepage. Other aspects of branding like consistent visual appearance are still essential for tourism websites. Arguably even more than for other industries because your customers can visit the same places when buying from the competition, so you need to be sure that they remember you.

If you are needing help with branding, you can always let Forager give you a hand. Our branding specialists have years of experience working with businesses in the travel industry to deliver effective branding and marketing strategies.

Keep your travel website user-friendly

Traveling is amazing, you enjoy new experiences, relax, learn new things, meet new people and collect a lot of new memories to share with your loved ones and treasure forever. But, planning a trip can also be a scary experience for some people. It might be the first time they do it in a while and want everything to be perfect, maybe they’re worried that the airbnb listing they chose ends up being a scam, or maybe they are full of work and don’t have the time to plan properly.

That, among many other reasons, is why you should never ignore user experience when you’re working on your website design. If you want travellers to choose you instead of your competition, start by creating a user-friendly website instead of a clumsy website full of clutter that makes it difficult and confusing to make a booking. In many cases, customers won’t choose the best option, they will stick with the best website and avoid the others.

Image taken from RCI’s website (https://www.rci.com/pre-rci-en_US/index.page)

The homepage for travel and tourism sites

Talking about user experience and keeping your site user-friendly, the homepage is frequently the first encounter your customers will have with your business. You need to seize the opportunity to capture their attention immediately. All elements of your branding should be present to welcome your new visitors immediately. All the functions they expect from a business like yours should be there. You need to research what your customers are expecting from you. A common trend in travel and tourism websites is to add a very small form over the fold asking about desired destinations and preferred dates to allow customers to find an available service in a matter of seconds.

The best web designs include all the expected functions and information without causing the homepage to look cluttered. Finding the right balance could be difficult sometimes but your effort will be rewarded with conversions and loyal customers.

Include a travel blog

This is one of those pieces of advice that have been repeated over and over again for years, but there’s a good reason for that. A travel blog is the best way to bring attention to the details that make the experiences you sell a great investment. It is an opportunity to attract new visitors interested in more specific topics and communicate directly with them through your content.

Most importantly, a travel blog is a way to turn your travel website into a lead generation machine. No matter how much effort you put optimising your web design, the majority of your visitors will most likely leave before making a booking and if that happens you won’t have a way to contact them. But, with a blog you can increase the chances of a subscription to a newsletter or other type of mailing list, keeping an active channel to contact your visitors and increase the chances of a future sale.

High-quality photography is a must

When the service you offer is connected to a travel experience, whether you provide your customers with a guided tour or a hotel to stay, you need to help your potential customers imagine what it is like to book with you. Photography is the most typical and useful way to achieve this, accompanied by great copy and video. The mental picture they’ll get will be as good as the photo you choose, so make sure that the one you use is a high-quality photo that reflects the experience in the best way possible. Aim for natural, well-illuminated photos showing people enjoying the service you offer.

E-commerce trends and the travel industry

Adding online booking to your site is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applying e-commerce principles to a travel business. Travel agencies, hotels, tours, airlines and car rental service providers are all evolving to capture the attention of travellers that desire for more information, simpler processes and better experiences. Studies suggest the global online travel market to exceed $1 billion by 2022. Your travel business needs to be ready for that.

Tourism website design needs to stay ahead of the changes in consumer behaviour and new technologies that affect it. One of the improvements that all tourism websites need to apply as soon as possible is making every bit of the website mobile-friendly. Currently, around 28% of the market’s revenue comes from bookings on smartphones, and that doesn’t include all the research customers do before booking. This number is expected to grow as trust in mobile payments increase.

Getting Google’s attention

Last but not least, your travel site will be competing against thousands of others, but only ten will appear on the first page of Google’s search results. SEO is more effective when planned from the beginning. Making a good website is easier than fixing a bad one. Search engines are the first tools travellers use to research destinations and offers. They often check what travel bloggers have to say about them. So, appearing on the first page of search results will give you a great advantage and send many more visitors to your site.

On the web design side, the first thing you need to check is performance. Visitors expect your website to load in two seconds or less, and Google expects it to be ready by the half-second mark. Bad design can lead to a slow website and a slow website can lead to poor rankings. This translates to a lot less bookings. Good design helps to reduce bounce rate and keep your visitors exploring your website. This gets you points with Google’s algorithm and helps you to earn and keep your rankings.

Travel web design takeaways

Each business is different. Web design tends to follow some general principles, but every industry has its own challenges and needs and you need to adapt to the requirements of your business. In the travel industry, you need to adapt quickly to the changes in consumer behaviour and new technologies or else your competition will surpass you during the busy seasons. Keep in mind the aspects we mentioned here and do your own research using analytics or tools like surveys and social media listening to understand your own target audience better and use the data you collect to test new ideas and improve the performance of your website week by week.

Basics of restaurant website design

New web design trends come about every year, month by month, and even day by day. Sometimes because new technologies allow better features, and sometimes because different industries have different needs and requirements from their websites as their businesses grow. Audience tastes play a big role in what makes a great restaurant website design, and as the user’s needs evolve, a website needs to change accordingly. Usually it isn’t one single aspect that brings about a new trend, but a mixture of all three scenarios.

This constant evolution has been changing the way the internet looks for decades, and not only that, it has changed the way users behave and how business owners’ perceive how to use their websites as a successful channel to drive growth in their brands.

Why is a website important for restaurants

Restaurants, like many other businesses benefit from having an active branded website that receives regular updates. The homepage is basically a noticeboard for what is new and exciting at your restaurant. A website is a must-have for any restaurant serious about attracting more than just walk by traffic. Think of it as an extension of your physical restaurant and it needs to represent the restaurant in a way that shows potential customers what they can expect from a visit. A beautiful website represents a beautiful restaurant.

Search engines like Google allow their users to run local searches for restaurants and other establishments near them. When this happens, you have to consider how your restaurant is shaping up against the competition. Design and what you are saying about the restaurant need careful consideration. SEO (search engine optimisation) is a must in order to rank the highest you can. But it doesn’t end there, potential customers expect to see a website because they want to see what your dishes look like, what the interiors look like and if there is anything special about your restaurant compared to the one down the street. Sometimes an Instagram profile isn’t enough.

Once a potential customer visits your website, there’s a lot of expectations to fulfil. They expect your site to be error-free, to load quickly and to be easily navigable while staying aesthetically pleasing. Not only that, they expect to be able to book a table or even order food directly for delivery, which requires some e-commerce integrations.

It’s surely a lot of work remembering all these different facets and putting them into practice, so to give you a clearer idea of what users generally expect from your website, here is a list of our top considerations for the best restaurant websites.

High-quality photography is essential

No matter how much work you put into getting the most functional website you can, if a potential customer is scrolling through your site and the images they see aren’t high quality, the best thing you are going to achieve is making your visitors feel like your restaurant may be nice to visit “some day”. The chain restaurant that opened up down the street will be bumped up on their list of places to try out. The chain doesn’t have better food than you, nor a better customer experience, but their website visuals are gorgeous, mouth-watering and really showcase the vibe of their restaurant.

More and more restaurants discover that sometimes the key to better conversions (turning visitors into customers) is better photos. As a result, websites are full of beautiful high-quality photos showcasing the best parts of their restaurant. You are showing your food and your restaurant to a new audience, let it shine the way it should with slideshows of your menu and other inspiring photos. If you don’t have the time to learn how to take better photos, let the Forager team create a style guide for you to help shape your photography database.

Adopting UX design best practices

Current internet users don’t have the patience they used to have in the 1990’s and 2000’s. They probably didn’t back then either, but they didn’t have a choice. A website shouldn’t be a puzzle or a mental exercise, information must be easy to find and the website easy to navigate. That’s why we see more and more restaurant websites designed with UX design principles at the forefront. This applies to the website that is visible on desktops and mobile devices. Use specialised tools to uncover problems that could be affecting the way users interact with your website. Everyday, websites are making small edits to their design thanks to this.

You can begin to achieve this by outlining clear sections, adding easy navigation and removing all the clutter.

Visually appealing and effective menu cards

Somewhat related to the previous trends, menu cards or menu sections of websites have evolved too. Restaurants are now using all the freedom a website gives them to create visually appealing menu sections on their websites that are easy to read. This has also given an advantage for your comfort too, since the menu will be easier to update.

The key here is clarity. You want your menu to be very visual, but not at the expense of readability. Your visitors must be able to read your menu and see what they are going to be running to taste for themselves.

Branding and personalisation

Restaurants are all unique, and they need a website that is just as unique. Not just a copy of the restaurant down the street. A website needs to showcase the characteristics that make it special. Put your restaurant above the competition. You put in the work each day to make sure the food and customer service is the best it can be, and your online presence should be doing the same.

Branding has had a huge impact on shaping restaurant web design trends. In part because having a list of best practices to follow at hand is amazing at building effective websites. Sometimes though, it leads to them all looking the same. To avoid this, restaurants and other businesses combine these best practices with carefully crafted style guides and branding work to create the right aesthetic to set them apart from the competition and connect with their customers on a deeper level.

To achieve this, you need to start with understanding your own business and see what sets it apart from similar restaurants. If it were a person, what would be its personality? What do your customers like about it? What do you like about it? Are there any colours or shapes that you would associate with your restaurant? Those and other questions that dive deeper into the emotional perception of your business will help you to develop a clear idea of the results you want to get.

Forager Media Group offers comprehensive branding services. We’ll take care of making the questions and analysis to develop a style and strategy you could use in future web design projects or in other materials like social media profiles.

Booking integrations

Restaurant owners discovered that, if they want to turn their websites into an effective channel to get new customers, they had to give them a more active role in the sales process. Now customers don’t have to search for a phone number or address and then remember to call later. Instead, they can click on a button that says “Book Now” right there in the corner of the website and after a few more clicks they’ll have a table waiting for them at your restaurant.

Some restaurants even offer the option to order food directly from their website, so customers only need to go there and pick up their orders once they’re ready. This and other variations have become so common that customers expect it.

Not adding this functionality to your website is adding a step more to the list of steps your visitors have to take before becoming a customer, and as we mentioned before talking about user experience, the more complicated things are for your website visitors, the less likely they will become customers.

Takeaways

Trends will continue changing as time passes, when it comes to the internet, this can happen fast. You don’t need to be on top of everything, you just have to keep your visitors and potential customers in mind and be ready to make changes to make things better for them. A happy and hungry website visitor is one step closer to a new customer.