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Analytics

How can data help us design hotel websites?

17 June 2020

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Traditional web design is outdated. It can be a painful process which often goes over time and over budget. If you rely purely on assumptions and aesthetic choices to design your hotel website, you may end up with a shiny, great looking site, but it may not even perform as well or convert as highly as your old one!

Data-led design is a more effective way of designing a website which takes actual data about your existing website, your customers and your competitors, then adds creativity and design thinking to launch a new, better performing website quickly. Once this new site (or feature) is launched, testing is carried out to see what works well and what can be optimised for a better customer experience, better conversion rate and ultimately, more revenue for your business. 

How can we achieve this? Firstly to better understand what it means to be data-led, let’s take a look at the difference between data-led and data-driven.

Data-led vs data-driven

Being data-driven means taking large amounts of data, treating it as fact and removing any human biases to make decisions. This does have drawbacks though, in order for it to be accurate and to account for outliers and anomalies, there needs to be vast amounts of data available. This is not always possible, particularly for smaller hotels and businesses. 

As well as this, no matter how good the data is, it has limitations, it still can’t account for all the nuances of customer behaviour. In order to do this, we need to include other factors such as human judgement and testing. This is where a data-led methodology comes into play.

A data-led approach adds more thinking, testing and creativity to the data in order to see a fuller picture. It means that the decision making doesn’t only rely on data. Data is used to inform rather than being the sole driver. Rapid cycles of testing and observation can be used to inform better decisions.

So how can we apply a data-led methodology to our web design process?

Data collection

Firstly, it’s important not to just rip everything up and start again. We can analyse your current or existing site to see what already works well and what needs to be improved. 

To do this we can use tools such as Google Analytics to see where users are entering and exiting your site to analyse potential bottlenecks or pain points in the funnel. As well as this we use advanced user analysis tools such as Hot Jar or Full Story to look at heat maps, scroll maps and session recordings of real customers. This gives us a great amount of useful data to start forming a strategy and hypothesis to test. 

Design

We use the collected data to inform our design choices. Not simply from an aesthetic point of view but also in terms of what features the website requires, what should be on which page. It also lets us think about what the user needs in order to complete the conversion, what they might be struggling with and how we can improve it.

As well as the data we have collected we also follow design theory (Gestalt principles, heuristics etc), psychology and best practices to create a fuller, better informed design.

Testing

Once launched, the design of the website can be constantly refined and optimised through testing. One way of doing this is through user testing. This can be done either remotely, recording the screen of the user to see how they interact with the design or in person to gather the thoughts and feelings of the user.

Another form of testing that can be performed is A/B or multivariate testing. This is where we use a program such as Google Optimize in order to show a section of your users one page design and another section a different design. The two or more varying designs are monitored and whichever performs best in terms of conversions becomes the ‘winner’ and is used from that point onwards. This method can be used over and over again to constantly tweak and optimise your website over time, increasing conversions and ultimately leading to more revenue for your business! 

Data-led design is the sweet-spot between data and creativity

Data-led design takes data as a starting point and then builds on it using judgement, reasoning, design thinking and testing. This is reassuring for everyone, as time and budget are not spent on changes that are beneficial to not only how the website looks,  but to your bottom line too.

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