From theories of colour psychology to persuasive language cues, UI bloggers have written a lot to answer the question that all travel retailers and marketers are asking;
“How do I optimise my homepage to get more bookings?”
It is a question that alludes to a psychological answer; we expect that there are a set of words, colour tones, and shapes that are proven to subliminally make us hit that ‘book now’ button. Of course, it’s not quite as black-and-white as that, however where you place your booking engine or call-to-action may affect your rate of bookings and there are suggestions that (thanks largely to eye-tracking technology) are based on actual scientific research.
Stick to the homepage
If you’re serious about generating bookings through your website, there is no excuse for hiding your web booking engine on a subpage or behind collapsed sections – regardless of how big your link to it may be.
Consumers expect to see certain things when they log on to a travel website, namely a booking engine, and if you don’t provide them with this tool on the first load, you risk making a bad first impression. A clearly labelled button may look more minimalist and simplistic from a design viewpoint, but what it really suggests is that the user is going to have to wait for yet another page to load.
Providing the booking functionality right away also eliminates the risk of unpleasant surprises in the user’s mind, like the website crashing or links not being what they expected.
Keep it as uncomplicated as possible, the modern internet user is impatient and spoilt for choice – it won’t take much for them to bounce right off your page!
Stay above the fold
For maximum exposure, you should keep your travel booking engine at the top of the page and visible without any need to scroll.
Establish a clear hierarchy of content with your homepage’s layout and keep in mind what your aims are. Unquestionably, the top priority of most businesses is to increase conversions, so your booking engine takes the top spot.
Scrolling websites, which place more information on to a single scrollable page instead of on subpages behind menu links, have become the standard in recent years and while users know to scroll and do so; their attention span diminishes dramatically below the fold, research suggests.
Your homepage real estate is extremely valuable; use it wisely!
To the left, to the left
Further research from the Nielsen Norman Group concludes that more attention is paid to the left-hand half of the page.
There is a certain level of expectation from internet users when they approach a new webpage, whether this is from previous experience or based on more subconscious instincts, and if you’re going to create conversions you should strive to meet those expectations.
It seems that the left-hand side is where consumers expect to find key information; so placing your booking engine in this area is likely to have the most impact.
So we’ve looked at what role the internet booking engine should play in the overall layout of a page, but what other ways can we ensure that it receives maximum attention?
Keep it tidy
When it comes to browsing online, we all prefer things to be laid out in a simple and orderly fashion, so make sure all your content elements are spaced out and do not fear whitespace! You don’t have to fill every nook and cranny with information, a clean design makes for a less stressful navigation and information overload could prove detrimental to your conversion goals.
Use directional cues
Directional cues, such as arrows or models in an image looking in a particular direction, are a technique employed by many designers in drawing attention to particular actions on a webpage. They ignite our curiosity by tapping into our pre-programmed knowledge that arrows lead to something; something that we want to know about.
Make use of contrasting elements
Finally, and arguably the most obvious way of drawing attention to your booking engine, use contrasting colours to stand out. Bright colours on top of dark backgrounds or photographs draw attention and alert us to something significant, think hazardous warnings, and it deserves a place on our list. Bright borders or containers can also be utilised in making something pop out.
Remember every design decision you make on your homepage should aim towards achieving your business goals, and while there are no right or wrong designs you should bear in mind the expectations of your audience.
Did you know we provide web design services for the travel industry? Get in touch or visit our website to find out more!
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