Best practice for tourism website design in 2020 May 14, 2020Website design for tourism businesses is really fun. It’s an opportunity to showcase the best of your local area, explain why it’s unique, and educate visitors (i.e. your potential customers) about the types of experiences that you have to offer. The best part is that because tourism is an innately visual industry, you can play around with photographs, videos, color and styling to make your website as gorgeous as the scenery. In this article, we’re going to run you through the basics of website design, including how to design a website, website design cost, website hosting and website ranking – basically, how to make your business appear on Google. This is essential so that visitors to your area will find you. We’re going to use one of our clients, Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge, as a case study. Want to skip ahead? Schedule a free consultation. Principles of good website design How to design a website? A business website should serve two purposes: educate customers about your service and convert sales. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a website for a gear rental company, offering boutique tours or advertising boutique experiences – the website will always serve the same function. To maximize its effectiveness, there are a few things you should know. Images! Images, images, images. Have we mentioned images yet? Pictures really do tell a thousand words, especially where tourism is concerned, because if you’re selling an experience, you’re selling a feeling. You need to capture that feeling with images in order to capture the imaginations of your prospective customers and make them want to learn more. People read from left to right and from top to bottom. That makes the top left corner of your page prime real estate. Make an impact! Figure out what makes your business unique and lead with that so that people immediately get a sense of what you’re about. Less is more. Your page needs to be simple and easy to understand to that prospective customers can find what they’re looking for quickly. You only get a few seconds to make an impression so it’s important that you use your website visitor’s time wisely. Your website needs to work. We live in a digital age where people have no patience for videos that won’t load or websites that are packed with technical glitches. It’s worth investing in a professional build to make sure your site functions as it should. Stay active. In order to reflect your business correctly and to make sure your page ranks on Google and maintains its authority, your need to keep adding content to your website. Most businesses do this in the form of a blog (more on that later), so keep this in mind. Want to read more? We wrote another blog that talks specifically about building a strong website for an Arctic tourism brand. Click here to check it out. Website design ideas Every time a new person visits your website, you have the opportunity to convert a sale. However, as we mentioned before, you only get a few seconds to make an impact and draft them in. In a minute, we’re going to show you an example of a website done right. It was designed and built by the team at Beacon Media + Marketing for Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge, a boutique fishing and hunting lodge located in Alaska. It offers some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world as well as unique opportunities to hunt the local Sitka Black Tail deer. As you can imagine, these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Here is the homepage: As you can see, you immediately get an idea of what experiences are on offer. A beautiful landscape image sets the scene and the short, simple text lets readers find exactly what they’re looking for. As a reader, you can feel your eye flow through the page from the logo, through the picture, to the “Book Your Trip” button. The subheadings and synopses make the choice of adventure simple. Here is the fishing page: Again, images are essential to set the scene and capture the imaginations of your visitors. The use of bullet points keeps the text simple and easy to understand, and again there is a call to action in the form of a “Book Your Stay” button to ensure the process of converting a sale is straightforward. The next logical question is whether or not it works. Here are the facts. This page was developed in June 2019 and we began providing regular marketing support from January 2020. The difference is enormous – in December 2019, it had an average of 57 views per day, but in February 2020, that number has grown to 251. We helped generate 23 leads. Read more: 5 website design trends you need to watch this year Website design cost Websites can be as cheap or as expensive as you like, depending on the result you want. There are lots of tools available to help you build your own websites on a budget, for example: Build a website with WordPress: WordPress is an online, open-source website creation tool written in PHP. It’s one of the easiest and most powerful website content management tools available today and can be very cheap to create. Build a website with Squarespace: Squarespace is an all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a website or online shop. It has a very intuitive interface, making it very quick and easy to get started, but it’s more expensive than WordPress. Build a website with Wix: Wix is another simple and easy website builder that can get you off the ground in no time. Like Squarespace, you start by choosing a template and adding your own words and images, but this platform is slightly cheaper. However, it’s definitely worth enlisting the help of a professional marketing company. Marketing companies don’t just build the website. They help you choose the right keywords, refine your copy to ensure it creates a good user experience and makes your website an authoritative source of information, optimize the design to lead people through the page to your call to action and make sure the technical parts of the website are running smoothly. This is essential to getting your website ranking on Google so customers can find you. The price varies depending on the company you choose and the size of the website, but they will know exactly how to help you start generating leads from prospective customers. We build websites! You can contact Beacon Media + Marketing today for a free consultation or click to read about our website design and development service. Website hosting for tourism businesses Hosting a website Website hosting refers to the place where all the files that make up your website actually live. Often, people pay for this when they buy their domain name. Once you have hosting, you can start building your website, because you’ll have a location where you can save things like images and text. All websites on the internet need hosting and it’s worth paying for a quality hosting service so that you can be sure your files are backed up and you’ll have access to help if something breaks. We typically build websites using a program called WordPress because it’s industry-standard technology and fully customizable. WordPress has a number of recommended hosting providers, including Bluehost, SiteGround, HostGator, DreamHost and GreenGeeks. However, it’s definitely worth making some enquiries with a professional marketing agency, because good hosting will make a big difference when it comes to editing your site, working on the back-end, and making sure it’s as fast as possible. Read more: 9 telltale signs it’s time to re-design your website Choosing a website domain A website domain is the address of your website. The internet is basically a giant jumble of computers and servers and cables and a domain provides an address that people can type into the URL bar at the top of their browser to find you. Ideally, your website domain will be the same name as your business – if we refer to Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge again, then the ideal domain is kodiaksportsmanslodge.com. In most cases, you should be able to buy it without a problem. If that name is already taken, you might be able to buy it from the owner, or you can create a variation like kodiakfishinglodge.com, kodiakhuntinglodge.com or even kodiaksporsmanslodgeak.com. As long as it’s simple, it will work. Website ranking Making your website show up on Google is critically important to your online success. The first step is setting up your free business profile on Google My Business. You will be familiar with this already – this allows your business to pop up with details of your opening hours, contact details and website as soon as prospective customers search for you. The second step is content. The first and most important is to make sure the text on your website is filled with the types of keywords people will likely be searching to find you. In the case of Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge, for example, words like “Alaska”, “Fishing”, “Hunting” and “Lodge” are all easy wins. The second way is through blogging, which we referenced earlier in this article. Publishing frequent blog posts (again, laden with key words) will tell Google that you’re an authority in your subject matter. That means any time people search for relevant keywords, your website will rank higher. As more people click on it, it will make its way to the coveted position at #1. If you think about it, 1.7 billion people use Google every day, and 31.7% of them click on whatever result comes up in the #1 spot. Again, it’s an easy win. As of March 2020, Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge is #1 in terms of organic search traffic for and #2 in terms of organic keywords for its subject matter. Finally, consider running Google Ads. Google offers paid advertisements which appear in Google search results. These are targeted to appear when users search particular keywords, or combinations of keywords, and can be buttoned down to particular demographics. For example, if you know your ideal customer is a man in his 50s, you can allocate your advertising spend to people who fit that mold. The results speak for themselves – again, to use Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge, in March 2020 it’s performing at #1 in terms of paid keywords and #2 in terms of paid search traffic. Want to learn more? We are experts in using Google Ads to boost your business. Here’s a blog we wrote about using them to help your outdoor clothing and equipment shop. Website design company If you’re looking for a company to help design a website for your tourism business, you’re in the right place. Beacon Media + Marketing can assist with everything from branding to website design and development, as well as digital marketing, social media and video services. Ready to get started? Schedule your free consultation today.