Many of the latest hotel website trends aren’t necessarily new to the whole wide world of web design, but they are now starting to find their way onto hotel websites in ways we find quite compelling and pretty satisfying, really.
As an agency working with some of the most forward-thinking hoteliers around, we’re pleased that we also get to design and develop websites incorporating many of these elements.
Bigger and Better Video
Hotels are moving beyond just embedding a little, generic sales video on their homepage. Well produced videos are showing up in some really compelling ways. We’ve noticed two ways in particular that they are being integrated into the whole user experience.
Visitors to the websites of some of the sharpest hotels and resorts are now being grabbed by immersive video headers and backgrounds as soon as they hit the homepage as well as some other high-level pages. While extra-large photography is a major trend, too, placing short, splashy full-screen video “reels” in the header or hero space instead of a static image takes things to the next level.
Some hotels include highly edited clips that show off several aspects of their property—guest rooms, pools, restaurants, lobby, and so on. Others take a first-person approach where they might walk you into the lobby, through the restaurant, and up to your suite and out onto the balcony.
Another highly effective use of video we’re beginning to see more is the guest room tour. Instead of giving guests a few still photos of each room, hotels are now producing dynamic video tours to give people a better sense of the flow and layout of each suite and room. It’s a nice little touch that can make all the difference when guests are deciding to book a room or not.
Evolving Layout & Navigation
Clean, simple design is the order of the day when it comes to the best hotel websites, in our opinion. And many of the best designers working are delivering. With sleek, simple, uncluttered layouts and streamlined navigation, we’ve picked up on a few interesting ways they’re achieving stunning results.
The widely popular card grid design has been showing up much more frequently on hotel websites. It plays well on mobile and it’s a simple, effective way for organizing lots of content. Essentially, it’s a series of content squares arranged in a grid. Each component or card includes an inviting graphic or photo, a headline and maybe a snippet of copy, a call-to-action, and possibly a hover or mouseover effect, such as a simple animation, color change, or zoom.
In another nod to mobile, we’re seeing fresh concepts for displaying the main menu that make it feel more like a mobile experience, even on desktop. When the “hamburger” menu (the three-line icon, typically a mobile design element) is clicked, it opens a fullscreen overlay menu on desktop, as well as on mobile devices. It works well and many visitors are accustomed to it already because it’s so common in mobile experiences.
Fine examples of both the card grid design and mobile menu style are used on the Liberty Hotel website.
While it may seem insignificant, another hotel website trend we’ve been detecting lately surrounds the hotel logo. Typically, in good website design, the company logo is displayed in the top left and sometimes the top right side of every page, usually placed in a square of color or white space.
Most web users know they can count on the logo to take them back to the homepage when they click on it. But now some hotels and restaurants are beginning to play with this convention. Some are placing the logo in the top center of the page, which gives the hotel’s brand more prominence and balances the overall page design.
Others are using the logo as an integral part of the website navigation, like for instance when the logo or some of its key discernible elements can be interacted with physically and visually as ways to pull visitors through the website. This is done through repetition in page design on desktop or through touch elements on mobile.
At one point, designers were trying to keep all the content “above the fold” so visitors wouldn’t have to scroll. Scrolling websites, especially on mobile, are now as normal as walking to your car and driving to work. The best hotel websites are now employing deep scrolling as a way to create a more cohesive sense of their property while imparting the most crucial information in one place—all while presenting inviting options to move further into the website and book a room.
More Impactful Typography
As most designers would agree, the approach to typography on a website can make all the difference. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a few words can be worth a thousand pictures when they’re incorporated deftly into a hotel website’s design.
We’re seeing less text go much further, on some of the most effective websites out there. Well-written, keenly designed large headlines and call-outs are pulling visitors into content and into the overall guest experience offered by the hotel. Less is more, as you’ve probably heard so often.
But it bears repeating. When paired with a large evocative image, a handful of perfectly picked words in a fresh branded font can make a huge impression.
Images & Graphics for Fun and Effect
Above anything else, people want to see what your hotel looks like. By really showing them the guest rooms, the restaurant, meeting and event spaces, spas, and those gorgeous views from your windows, you allow visitors to envision themselves staying at your place.
But sometimes in an interest to show everything, hotel’s overcrowd their websites with too many images. Even the image sliders prevalent across so many homepages are giving way to more large impact single images. So large, at times, they fill the screen completely. What this means, of course, is that you need an amazing signature photo! Something so mesmerizing your guests practically feel they’re on your property already.
We’re also noticing a greater use of illustration and graphical touches, like icons, for some fun effects. Often they’re used for website navigation, but sometimes they simply work to embellish a headline or image. We’re seeing, for instance, more images that have been heavily edited and repeated across the website. Another example is the incorporation of silhouettes rather than just simple square images, and animated titles that interact with them.
Special Features & Personal Touches
Which brings up the next trend we’ve picked up on in hotel website design: special elements, such as animations, which do a nice job of bringing a sense of the property to life.
While even many of the better websites can begin to look the same, the best hotel websites are infusing theirs with personal touches. These might include clever local weather plugins or animated GIFs or cinemagraphs (photos that include some motion) that highlight a quirk or cool aspect of the hotel. Little design elements like these show character, and they can help hotels differentiate themselves while making them feel more human.
Customized interactive maps have also become a hot special feature, lately. These often highlight areas of the property as well as the local area. Custom maps allow guests to tap or click into the area so they can explore and get a better sense of what’s around the hotel in terms of attractions or walking and jogging routes. Often they can be integrated with Google maps or other trip-planning apps. Hoteliers know that nowadays guests want more than a few cushy amenities, they want a full-on life experience that goes beyond the walls of their property. An interactive map can help website visitors get a better sense of what you have to offer in that department.
The latest advent in hotel website design is likely already out there on the web somewhere. But since hotels are by nature so customer-experience focussed, will they start to lead the way in terms of overall web design? It seems like this already beginning to happen.
People are demanding high-quality, multimedia digital experiences before they even decide to book a room. Though they tend to be subtle and seamlessly integrated into the user experience, microinteractions are popping up all over the place in web design.
And now that mobile interactions are becoming ubiquitous and a standard part of guest services, guests expect that the well-tuned, personalized experience they have with the best hotel websites carries through to their on-property experience.
So, it’s the website design that sets the stage for the guest, and whatever can be done to optimize that will go a long way towards increasing not only the level of guest satisfaction, but also the amount of guests, period.
If you build it simply, beautifully, and with them in mind, they will come.
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