Is your tourism website performing as it should? What does it really need to do? How are your customers interacting with the site, and how could it improve the performance of your business? Find out more in our videos.
David Sim is an IT project director at openbrolly, which has been creating websites for tourism businesses since 2000. Alison Rose manages the web content for the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay, one of the best places to go dolphin watching in the UK.
Together with presenter Julia Sutherland, they have plenty of experience in what works and what doesn’t, and discuss how to give your current website a thorough MOT.
Take a step back
It’s easy to get carried away with shiny new features, or to think your website is terrible because it doesn’t follow the latest trends. But when you’re assessing how well your website performs for your business, it’s important to be clear on what your website needs to achieve. Running a restaurant? Your customers will be looking for a menu, first and foremost. And if you take any kind of bookings online, you need to make sure that the process is as easy as possible.
For instance, when the Scottish Dolphin Centre updated its website four years ago, Alison looked very closely at what customers were asking for. Opening times and costs were the two most important pieces of information, so Alison included them in the designs for every webpage. She also made sure the emphasis was on pictures: people want to see the experience they’re booking, and obviously pictures of dolphins go down very well with the centre’s audience.
Think about your budget
Having a good website doesn’t necessarily mean having an extremely expensive one, says David. A very simple website might easily serve the needs of your customers. Put together a list of priorities before you approach any developer, to give you an idea of what you really want, and what’s just nice to have.
The big question: does your website work on a phone?
Technology has transformed our online habits. Your customers are now more likely to be searching for your business from a phone or a tablet than a desktop. So if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, then your customers a more likely to go to a competitor’s instead. Worse, Google penalises sites that don’t work well on a phone, so your potential customers might not even find you at all. The key thing for any new website, says David, is to make sure that it’s built for mobile devices.
Who are you talking to, and are they listening?
Defining the different audiences for your website is an important part of assessing its performance. Use a website analytics platform – Google Analytics, for example – to see which pages get the most visits, and which are hardly used at all. If your customers often ask the same questions, that could be a sign of a gap in the information on the website. Get rid of the pages no one looks at, and include key information in the ones they do: that’s the simple way to a better-performing website.
You might want to start a blog
Recently Alison has really been encouraging everyone at The Scottish Dolphin Centre to write the occasional blog for the website. “It doesn’t have to be an essay,” she says, which is what puts a lot of people off. “It can be really simple – an image, and a couple of paragraphs to give people an insight into everything that goes on at the centre.
Is your website mobile-friendly?
- One simple way to check is to resize the web browser – drag the window down as small as possible. If menus run off the screen, or you have to scroll sideways, there’s a problem that needs fixed.
A blog can also fulfil lots of content needs at once, says David. Regular posts mean your website is constantly updated, which is great for improving your rankings on Google. A blog is also extremely flexible, allowing you to address the needs of different audiences. And if you write, say, a blog about great restaurants in your local area, the information can be a great way to build links to and from your website. If you make sure the content is useful and valuable for your customers too, then you’ll really reap the benefits.
And finally, link your social media to the website
More active on Facebook than you are on your website? Think about including a social media feed on the website: it will pull in all the great content you post on your social media channels, and display it right there on your website. It’s a good way to keep the site fresh and engaging, as well as encouraging people to get in touch with you on social media.
This information was produced by Digital Tourism Scotland. Find out more about how we can help your tourism business thrive:
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