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2017 Website Trends in Hospitality & Which to Avoid
When it comes to designing I usually steer clear of website trends, as they’re generally more about design and ‘wow factor’ and less about usability.
What’s wrong with the ‘wow factor’? I hear you shout.
Well if you just want to impress, then it’s fine. But if you’d prefer bookings and conversions, then look for more appeasing alternatives.
That’s not to say that good usability = boring design. Far from it!
It’s still possible to have a beautiful website that gets bookings too.
Interestingly though, in 2017, it looks like more and more websites will be designed with better usability in mind.
This is due to the fact that a growing number of business owners without a web or marketing background are starting to learn and appreciate its importance.
To clarify… Better website usability = more conversions.
So this inspired me to put together a list of website ‘trends’ particularly relevant to the Restaurant and Boutique Hotel sectors (but equally true for many other industries too) that aim to enhance usability.
Hamburger menu mobile design
Some are predicting the demise of the hamburger menu this year. But despite some terrible incarnations of the hamburger, such as the one used on the site below, I don’t see it disappearing completely.
Although some users are still to catch on to the meaning of it, others are well versed in its function, so completely removing it could cause confusion and frustration.
Instead this year we will see unnecessary use of the hamburger menu fade out.
So where there are menus with five items or under, they will instead be visibly listed out at the top of each page so they are accessible within one click rather than two.
Once the benefits of this approach become more widely acknowledged, it should also encourage a more considered approach when designing page structure for mobiles and how it should differ to desktop.
As for menus of greater than five items, rather than just displaying the hamburger menu, greater thought needs to be given to its style and colour to help more people notice it. According to this research by Peep Laja it should also always be used in conjunction with the word ‘menu’.
Minimalism in web design will still be important this year as it continues to be associated with user-friendly websites.
Minimalism is defined by it’s simplicity, plenty of white space, clean lines, consistency and minimal graphical elements.
However it’s important not to go too far with minimalism at the expense of restricting a user’s ability to navigate a website or perform a particular task.
“No true minimalist would approve of those designs that leave the audience confused or unsure. The idea is to make the message more clear, not more hidden.” UXBooth
Minimalism will be seen in the form of simplified navigation menus, copy that’s concise and falls under the ‘need to know’ heading, graphics that enhance the user’s journey rather than distract from it,
It’s often associated with the ‘flat design’ movement but really, it can be any style that holds the above values.
Increasing use of video
If a picture paints a thousand words, then a video paints a million.
I read that somewhere but can’t remember where! Anyhoo, there’s definitely truth to it.
Instinct tells me that video increases conversions, and from numerous case studies, proof tells me too.
“people who watch a video of your product are as much as 85% more likely to purchase.” CrazyEgg
There’s no reason why this doesn’t also apply to services including restaurant and hotels bookings too.
“video converts better than other forms of content, and this performance certainly contributes to an improving ROI for video.” Marketing Land
Whilst the use of videos on websites increases, this year will see the highly distracting immersive background video trend fade out. (We’ve written more about this below).
To work most effectively, video will be thoughtfully placed on the home page in a logical place where the user can elect to play it when they’re ready. This will limit overwhelm and enhance user satisfaction.
Fewer stock photographs
Users are tiring of seeing the same style photos with the same fake smiles.
The trouble with stock photography is it’s less likely to provide the user with a sense of brand, context or detail which could help them in their journey on your website.
Therefore, those websites that still use stock photography have a harder time convincing visitors they’re a trustworthy business, as they’re unable to represent their brand properly online.
This then affects the website’s ability to convert those visitors to bookings or paying customers.
So this year I see more and more businesses investing in professional photography.
As a result we may even see professional photography become more accessible and affordable for those businesses wanting to invest but with very limited budgets.
For those that can’t escape the stock photos, onus will be on the web designer to help blend them as much as possible into the website and represent the brand better.
Duotone imagery like this example may become a design trend as a result.
This year, as we’re starting to see a wider understanding and acknowledgement of user-centric web design, we’ll also see a greater awareness of how visitors are browsing websites and on what devices they’re browsing on.
Businesses that can identify greater mobile browsing than on desktop, should consider a mobile-first approach when it comes to redesigns or updates to their sites.
Some talk about mobile-first responsive design as an approach all websites should follow, but I believe you should only take this approach if the analytics data shows that your site is viewed primarily on a mobile.
Even then careful planning needs to go into wireframing a website by looking at both mobile and desktop layouts separately rather than just one or the other (unless of course your audience is 100% desktop or mobile).
Ok, I know this isn’t a new phenomenon, but I really see blogging start to take on a new lease of life in 2017 as business owners get to grips with just how much it could help their business if done correctly.
Businesses will start to appreciate the value in blogging in terms of customer service, repeat business, content marketing and search engine optimisation.
The more defined the niche they are in, the better it will work too.
For boutique hotels and top restaurants that offer a top notch, in-house customer experience, they will start to look into how else they can improve on this in 2017.
I expect they will look at ways of blending the physical and digital experiences, firstly to ensure they match each other in terms of quality, branding and level of experience but also in terms of an online concierge service such as this one or an online receptionist.
“While growth of the traveler or guest base is the top business priority for companies surveyed, customer experience is a key area of focus for driving both customer acquisition and retention. Travel and hospitality brands are working hard to fuse physical and digital experiences in order to differentiate from their competitors.” Econsultancy
Web design trends to avoid in 2017
These are fads that are past their sell by date and finally people have cottoned onto the fact they’re not SEO or user-friendly.
The website for the 5* hotel The Ned in London, is unfortunately a great example of all three trends mentioned below that should be avoided!
Long form content and scrolling
When a web page just goes on and on and on.
Users lose interest after scrolling for a bit, so in terms of usability, it’s definitely not the most successful way of structuring web content.
That’s even truer for mobile users who tend to have less time or patience for scrolling.
Finally on it’s way out! As Econsultancy put it:
“Parallax scrolling is the epitome of design trends that aim to impress rather than serve.”
However it will still have a place if the website or page using it is suppose to be telling a story or taking the user on a detailed journey. But it’s definitely not for businesses trying to achieve sales or bookings.
Full-size Video Backgrounds
This was always going to be a passing fad as it’s main purpose seems to be an easy way for web designers to impress their clients and provide that ‘wow factor’.
If the background video has lots of movement whilst text and buttons appear over the top, then it’s likely to inhibit the user experience rather than enhance it.
Have you identified any other trends for 2017 or perhaps any others that are on their way out? Let us know in the comments below.
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