Booking Buttons and CTAs: How to Get your Site Design Right
When you find yourself visiting a business’s website for the first time it may not occur to you, but there’s likely to have been a lot of thought and effort that’s gone into its design. Nowadays, many people are only too aware of how marketing bods spend hours and hours creating posters or TV commercials, but that’s just as true of website designers. Indeed, did you know there’s two ‘pattern’-based approaches to design that some of them use to create sites for their corporate clients? You may wonder why – and for good reason. But if you’re a hotelier looking to a launch a new website – or relaunch a pre-existing one that ought to be resulting in better RevPAR – then it’s as well to be aware of some of the tricks of the trade…
Leading visitors down the booking path
When it comes to website design, you always have to remain focused; keep your eyes on the prize. That is, make sure that at all times everything is geared towards easing potential customers towards your site’s booking engine. And, while you do this, it’s critical to provide each and every visitor with a smartly devised (and well executed) navigation path from the homepage – or from whichever page they ‘enter’ the site – to the booking engine, feeding them with precisely the right detail (content – text and imagery) as they progress, so they get to their destination comfortably, safe and sound.
That said, returning visitors will require – because they desire – a short-cut; a route to the booking engine that eschews all the information they’ve previously consumed. That means, at precisely the right point, you’ll need to incorporate into the design a clear and well-positioned call to action (CTA), especially on the homepage, to get them to the booking engine swiftly – and to ensure your conversion rates continue on their upward trend.
‘F’ or ‘Z’ patterns?
In the last few years it’s been posited that when people in the West access webpages full of heavy text their eyes tend to pass across it in something of an ‘F’ pattern. That is, because they read a page from left to right, their eyes first focus on the left-hand edge of a page header, scan across it to the right – taking in what it says – before they drop back down to the left-hand side again and read the next copy to its conclusion on the right-hand side. And they’ll continue this process – or pattern, if you will – as they progress down the page, specifically looking for any interesting headings, keywords or sentences. Design-wise then, this means for pages likely to be copy-dense (a blog page, for instance), you might look to feature a header/ banner/ navigation bar across the top and be sure to include that aforementioned, all-important CTA somewhere where it’s relevant but prominent – that is, on the left-hand side of the page.
Conversely, if the webpage in question is going to be more about visuals than text – and whether we’re talking a boutique property or luxury hotel website design here – you may like the visitor’s eyes to follow more of a ‘Z pattern’ across the page. As you may have guessed, this follows the train of thought that once our eyes have completed a left-to-right scan across the page they then switch across the page (no doubt via an image) from right-to-left before returning to a left-to-right scan of a line of text or banner. In this instance, the most dynamic place for a CTA is top right – or a little further down, but always on the right.
Clearly, the most important thing to include in your carefully positioned CTA is a link to the booking engine. But should there be anything else? And, if so, what else? Well, what of those people who might wish to book a room via a different method; yes, like it or not, they do exist! (Obviously the key to a successful business is to be flexible). The CTA then also needs to feature a phone number and email address for bookings – and don’t forget to provide click-to-call functionality for users of handheld devices accessing your site on their mobiles.
Remember, though, whatever the CTA, it should always be appropriate for the page and the content you’re positioning it with – and don’t overdo it; your site’s design ought to be clear, clean and easy to follow, which probably means one CTA per page. You don’t want to bombard visitors with detail and clickable things; you want your site to be easy to use and easy to progress through to that booking engine.