As a vacation rental owner, the appearance of your website is hugely important for your business. Poor web design will only dissuade visitors from booking, whereas a good user experience can make all the difference.
In order to attract, interest and convert your website viewers into bookings at your vacation rental, you need a beautiful and reputable web design. Sure, you can use ready-made templates and vacation rental software, but ultimately, the look of your site is up to you.
Don’t lose out on bookings when you can easily avoid making these 11 web design mistakes:
1. Inconsistent style
One of the most common mistakes lodging owners can make when creating their own website is getting carried away and wanting to include everything on their site, which can lead to inconsistencies in style and a extremely overwhelming user experience.
Instead of wanting to include all the style elements your website builder provides, choose a few key items and stick to them. Take fonts for example: keep them clear, easy-to-read and “serious”. Potential guests may find it hard to take your website seriously if you use Comic Sans!
A clean, logical and most of all, consistent style across your website’s pages will not only help your overall brand message but also make the on-site experience much more enjoyable for your visitors.
2. Difficult to navigate
The internet has been around long enough for us to believe that every website in existence should, by default, be easy to navigate. It belongs in the manual, right? Unfortunately, this still isn’t the case for a lot of vacation rental websites, even though it’s so painless to get right.
Don’t deter users from clicking around or even making a booking on your site because your sitemap makes no sense and they can’t find your availability calendar. Instead of overcomplicating things, opt for an intuitive and straightforward navigation, where you’ve clearly thought out the structure before creating or implementing your pages and their order.
3. Pixelated, low quality images
Never lose sight of the fact that your website is designed for one main purpose: to get bookings at your vacation rental. How can you expect guests to choose your home when they can barely make out the backyard from your old, pixelated, low quality images?
You’re selling a service, and you’re trying to sell it online, so always remember: guests won’t see your property in person before the start of their vacation. That’s why the best thing you can do is invest in a professional photographer for your vacation rental website.
Not only will the photographer help to show off your property in the best light, but these quality images will also last you a long time without needing to be replaced. Plus, you’ll easily earn back the money you spend on photographs in your first bookings.
4. Slow page speed
When your site isn’t optimized for fast loading times, you’re risking a lot of potential business. Given that almost half of all internet users abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load, this aspect of web design is one owners can’t afford to overlook.
5. Cluttered content
When it comes to your vacation rental website, less is definitely more. Many owners make the mistake of cramming all their information onto just a few pages, making it difficult to digest and frankly, a bit confusing for the visitor.
There are a few uncomplicated steps you can follow to make your content layout easy to follow, including using:
- A large font size, e.g. 14-16px
- Medium-length lines of text (Baymard Institute recommends 50-75 characters)
- Bulleted or numbered lists and subheadings to break up text.
In reality, organizing your content goes hand in hand with your navigation plan. So when creating your vacation rental site, don’t be frightened by white space in your web design – instead use it to balance out your site’s content and make it accessible and easy to understand.
6. Not being mobile-friendly
We can’t stress the importance of this one enough, especially since travel industry statistics are constantly and consistently showing an increase in the number of users booking travel on mobile devices. When even the likes of Google are in on it (they’ve changed their mobile search algorithm to limit SERPs to sites that are mobile-friendly), you know you need to get with the times.
There are plenty of effortless ways to ensure an optimized vacation rental website, and one of those is by using a mobile-friendly template that already fits Google’s specifications. This means your website will automatically adjust to the screen of the device your viewer is using, meaning no quality or content is lost.
7. Zero call-to-action buttons
Hold on, hold on. Let’s get this straight: you want people to make a booking on your vacation rental website, but you don’t have a single call-to-action on your site? We hate to break it to you, but your vacation rental business isn’t going to get far without one.
Calls-to-action instruct your viewer to make an immediate response – that’s why lots of vacation rental owners use the “Book Now” button to provoke an instant online booking. Though they could also include a simple “Call Us!” on the contact page or a “Check Availability” on the calendar page.
Adding calls-to-action into your web design make it that much easier for you to reach your end target of taking online direct bookings from potential guests.
8. Offensive color schemes
Fuchsia and lavender might be your favorite colors offline, but when it comes to web design, you need to be thinking: are these colors going to overpower everything else on my site, clash with the professional photos I’ve paid good money for and turn potential bookers away?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you’ll need to rethink your color scheme.
It’s always better to go with a design color that’s plain and classic, which matches your images (without taking away from them) and which has a complimentary color call-to-action, rather than something too eyecatching that will undo all your hard work elsewhere on your site.
9. Music or video auto-play
On Facebook, auto-play videos are what viral content is made of. On your vacation rental website, however, it’s another story completely.
Why do you think Airbnb doesn’t have a “music” option? That’s because for potential guests, there is nothing more annoying than trying to view a property photo gallery and loud music or a video narrator starts blasting out the computer’s speakers. As well as possibly slowing down the site, auto-playing videos or music can be irritating and simply old-fashioned for users trying to find the perfect vacation rental property, and might even drive them away from your website.
10. Missing basic information
You might think that basic contact information isn’t really a design issue, but we’d have to disagree. Including your contact details (name, address, telephone number) in the footer of your website’s pages not only makes it much easier for potential bookers to get in touch with you, but it can also help boost your website’s local SEO rankings.
Nowadays, many design problems are closely associated with poor SEO, so by being aware of the steps you can take to improve your ranking, you’ll be on your way to more visibility, more site visits and more bookings!
11. Bad booking engines (or worse, no booking engine!)
By now, you’re all well aware that your website is usually the first point of contact users will have with your brand and your vacation rental. It’s therefore pretty pointless if you tick every box for the perfect web design, then fail when it comes to your booking engine.
The booking experience should be seamless, frustration-free and secure (for both owner and guest peace of mind). If your booking engine doesn’t offer this, or worse yet, you don’t even have a booking engine on your site, you could be losing out on a lot of bookings and a lot of business.
No matter who your website provider, an integrated booking engine will bring your vacation rental into the 21st century, help you take back control from third party providers and prevent you from paying high commissions on listing sites.
All in all, vacation rental owners should just KISS (keep it simple, stupid) when it comes to their website design. Though it’s hard to go wrong with a no-nonsense, straightforward web design, it’s extremely easy to fall flat on your face when there’s too much going on.