How to Develop a Strong Style Guide: Travel, Tourism and Hospitality
Developing a strong style guide helps web designers create a cohesive user experience across websites featuring many pages. As most websites in the travel and tourism market feature hundreds, if not thousands of destination pages; having a detailed style guide is incredibly important. In addition to transferring your corporate brand’s identity to the web, a style guide ensures that future developers and designers also have a guide to work from when adding to your website. A professional style guide should include information about page layout, brand positioning, typography, colours, tone, and use of graphical elements.
Any business looking to sell their goods and services online should build their website with usability in mind. The easier your potential customers can navigate your offers and information, the higher the chances are of conversion. As such, each of your pages should feature a similar layout. For example, for businesses that specialise in renting accommodation, each of your accommodation pages should be laid out exactly the same. This helps visitors to easily compare offers.
Study the Brand
As many visitors will find your services via Google or other search engine searches, there is a likelihood that they will skip your homepage and land on a specific destination page. As such, ensuring that each of your pages displays important brand information is vital (for example, logos, taglines and other identifying iconography). Traditionally, the company logo should be positioned in one of the top corners of each of your pages, with taglines or company motos placed at the bottom of each page.
Typography is an essential communication tool when it comes to web design. Establishing a recognizable text style, weight and colour early in the design process is vital. You also have to consider use of your headline types (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6). Your h1 headline tag should only be used once at the very top of the page to introduce the destination, hotel and/or service being offered. For example “Hilton Hotel London”, or “Barcelona”. Also useful are h2 headline tags, which allow you to break up text by providing sub-headings to introduce new areas of information. For example “Local Attractions” or “Food & Drink in Paris”.
Many companies are immediately identifiable by their use of colours. For example, Coca-Cola use of red and white, and McDonald’s golden arches. Knowing what colour scheme you want dominating your website can help you establish a recognizable online presence. When doing this, think about your company’s logo and what colours compliment it. Also, think about what kind of services you are offering. Many travellers are looking for relaxation on their holidays, so a low contrast scheme using soft shades is well suited.
The tone of your website refers mainly to the text content that is present. This, like the colour scheme, needs to match your corporate identity and will largely be determined by your target audience. Is your target audience young and trendy? Are they parents with young children? Or are they elderly holidaymakers? Knowing exactly who your content is targeting will help you define the tone of your website. Remember, however, that travelling is an experience that appeals to sense, so your content should be focused on that. Describe sights, sounds, atmospheres and sensations in a way that would best appeal to your target audience. Additionally, think about how to word the technical pages of your website. For example, your “404 error page not found” pages. Targeting a youthful audience? Perhaps think of a funny message to put here instead. This may seem like a small thing, but small details like this can help build a relationship between businesses and customers.
Each of your pages should make use of graphical elements. Not only do they break up text content, but also look appealing to visitors. For instance, a paragraph of text about a stretch of beach is never going to look as tempting as actually seeing a picture of the beach itself. Whether you specialise in event planning, accommodation or destinations; picture galleries or slideshows are always useful components of travel websites and should feature on each of your service pages. However, like the text content, the tone of each picture should appeal to your target audience. Businesses appealing to elderly travellers, for example, probably don’t need to show the children’s facilities at the hotel.
The main purpose of your website is to attract customers to book their holidays with your company. As such, making this process as simple as possible should be a major part of your website’s design. On each of your service pages, traditionally on a side panel, you should include “forms” in which customers can quickly and easily enter their information and book your services. On your non-service pages, such as your homepage, the first thing customers should be greeted with is a form in which they can enter their search information such as “destination”, “arrival and departing dates” and “budget”. Making your website easy to navigate will make all the difference when it comes to turning page visits to conversions.
Image copyright: Fotolia.comHow to Develop a Strong Style Guide: Travel, Tourism and Hospitality