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Hotel websites

Are page builders right for my hotel website?

22 April 2021

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Page builders are fantastic for small operations where traffic will be limited and the growth plans are not significant. They often come with lower price tags and perhaps offer more flexibility when dealing on a page-by-page basis. Going for a bespoke design carries a higher price tag and typically has a longer launch window but will scale a lot better.

Why is this topic important for hotels?

Modern website design can largely fall into two camps, the template and page builder camp, and the bespoke camp. Different agencies will typically use different approaches and it will often depend on the hotel’s requirements as to which solution is used for their projects.

What is a page builder?

Page builders are website tools that take the coding out of the process and allow a creator to build a website from drag-and-drop modules that have all been pre-built in order for the creator to customise them. There are typically lots and lots of different modules available and the customisation options can be very extensive. When using page builders, designers will design websites with the available modules in mind to make the build process as seamless as possible.

Examples of page builder tools are:

What is a bespoke website?

Rather than relying on pre-built frameworks, a custom website really does start from scratch. The modules of the site are defined based on the requirements as opposed to choosing from a selection of available structures. 

The Pros of using Page Builders for hotel website design

  1. Using a simple drag and drop system, it is easy to build quick landing pages and test concepts to perform specific jobs. These can be quickly assembled and repurposed within minutes/hours without the need to involve a developer.
  2. Creating dynamic content is typically a more timely process on bespoke websites but with page builders, there are options for Instagram widgets, sliders and many other options that work (most of the time) out the box.
  3. A website using a page-builder is typically cheaper than building a bespoke website because there is little to no code involved in the implementation. With lower code-writing requirements comes lower time and cost of production.
  4. Faster time to launch as less work is required creating all the necessary templates. Typically, you won’t need a development team and the full implementation can be done by a designer.

The Cons of using Page Builders for hotel website design

  1. Most page builders have notable speed and performance issues when compared to bespoke hotel websites. This is because they rely on loading many third-party scripts and plugins, even if they are not used. A page builder will load all the scripts and styles for all possible modules even if you are using a small percentage of them. Typically, a page builder will add 500ms to your load time through the libraries and scripts that load in the background.
  2. Security is often more of a concern using page builders due to the sheer volume of third-party code that is required to run them. Every time you use other people’s code, you open yourself up to security risk because you have no control over how it is built.
  3. Stability is often lower with page builders because they have more third-party moving parts. As page builders require plugins, these need to be updated for security reasons. For each update that occurs, the functionality will change very slightly (or a lot!) and therefore may or may not change how the website behaves in unexpected ways that you cannot control.
  4. While this is sometimes overcome through templates and theming, page builder websites often lack consistency across pages. This is because each page has unlimited customisations and if you’re not careful, it is possible to introduce many variations of the same design.
  5. Page builders have limited sections. This might be fine if you have a smaller hotel website design but if you’re looking to incorporate a native booking widget, custom PMS integrations etc. then these options simply won’t be available in the list of available modules. This isn’t necessary for everyone but for the majority of hotel websites, these custom features are essential.
  6. Building new modules within a page builder is much harder than building them from scratch. If you do want to deviate from the premade modules, it will often be more complicated than if you were to create a bespoke module to start with. The developer standards and APIs in place by the page builder all become a hurdle to overcome when you want to expand.
  7. Limited migration options – To us, this is one of the most important factors. If you’re looking to grow in the future and migrate from one site to another, the migration from a page builder to another system is nearly impossible. This is because all your data is stored in such a unique format (in all the drag and drop elements)  that it will rarely be usable when trying to move from one system to another. A bespoke system on the other hand will allow you to specify the data format and easily migrate one to the other at any point.
  8. Once you start with a page builder you can never go back. The way page builders work is by creating lots of ‘shortcodes’ and storing them in the database. These shortcodes only run when the plugin is active so if at any point you want to switch systems to something more bespoke or to a different page builder, you can’t.

Conclusion

As you can see from the above, page builders can be an excellent option for many hotel website development projects. If you run a B&B for example, a bespoke website will be like a sledgehammer to a nut and will probably never give a good ROI. For businesses with larger traffic volumes and more than perhaps 5-10 pages, a page builder will start to creak due to limited scalability, rendering obsolete many of the pros associated with their use.

For hotel sites that are aiming for a completely integrated guest booking journey, there is very limited potential for the page builder, unfortunately. The available modules will simply not provide the flexibility required and will hold you back as you look to connect all the different systems in the hospitality tech stack.

 

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