Web design - how good is your web site?
 

 
  
Print out
 
Print your web pages out. This is what many potential visitors will do. If you are happy with it then it's a good start. You can then subtly hint to potential customers to your web site that although you do produce a brochure, it contains less information and is less up to date than the web site and that they may find it more convenient to print off the web pages. This will save you a lot of extra costs printing and sending out brochures.

It's surprising just how many web sites look awful when printed and some even have white text on a dark background (like on the left here) which can leave the paper blank!

 

 
Home page   When a potential customer first sees your web site, the first thing they will want to know is just how many people the accommodation is for. Say on your home page that it Sleeps 5 or what ever. If it's Tourist Board graded say the Grade and give the Price Span at the same time. This is all basic information which the visitor needs to know so that they can decide if the accommodation comes into question. There is nothing more irritating than having to hunt for these facts.

It's also good practice to give other deciding information such as your policy on pets, bed linen or smoking, a quick list of the facilities available such as washing machine, telephone, the type of heating and if there are any extra costs etc on the home page.

 

 
Good hosting
facilities
  Choose a good hosting company with near 100% up time and fast connections with no banner adverts. A good hosting package will cost you between 30 and 70 a year. Good hosting companies that you might like to try are:  www.oneandone.co.uk  or  www.fasthosts.co.uk 
You may like to build your own web site using templates from Xara software which costs about 40 and requires no programing skills!

 

 
Your own domain name
(www address)
  Get your own domain name  (www.yourcottagename.co.uk). This will cost you about 3.50 a year and can be bought from any of the firms above or try  www.ukreg.com  You can then 'point' this name to your present web site (such as at a members.aol web space). This is all quite easy to do.
Incidentally, the UK name space (all domain names ending in .uk) is organised by Nominet  www.nominet.org.uk
 
 
       
Reduce spam   Spam or junk email is becoming ever more of a problem. The addresses are harvested by computers trawling through web pages scanning for the '@' sign which signifies an email address.
So one easy way to beat them and greatly reduce spam is to write your email: < owner AT cottage-name DOT co DOT uk >

 

 
Statistics   Once you have your own domain name, hosting package and a web site, you'll be able to view your web site visitor statistics. Using a free tracking service (counter) such as www.extremetracking.com or Google Analytics, you can see where people clicked from to get to your web site and so you will know which advertisements are working!

 

 
Selling   Your web sites purpose is to sell your accommodation. Ask yourself why visitors should choose to stay in your accommodation and make this clear on your web site. Here local pictures will play an invaluable role and is why the web site is best designed locally. Take outside pictures when the sun is low in the sky (either in the morning or evening) for best results. Show the locality, the detail of which no agent can ever hope to achieve. This will really sell your accommodation.

 

 
   Visitor
  Comments
  Potential visitors will always want to see what past ones had to say. So quote and quote recent entries from the visitors book. This is a must.

 

 
Centralised
Availability & live
Provisional Bookings

leads to
more bookings

see
www.holiday-cottages.co.uk

  The times have long past in which a web site which just looks like a colour brochure will do. People today expect to be able to see latest availability and provisionally book live online. This involves quite some programming and means that you either need to be a programmer or you need to have one on standby should something go wrong.
For this reason it makes much more sense to draw on an outside supplier to provide you with the availability and also a live provisional booking component to your web site. We have partnered up with  www.justbooking.co.uk  which is the UK's No. 1 supplier of such a service and allows us to supply availability and booking modules for just 25 per accommodation unit per year.
This is very easy to integrate into a web page (just add a web page link) and is controlled by the accommodation provider over the web. Bookings go straight to the accommodation provider by email with an optional fax or SMS alert.

Remember that one of the biggest benefits of adding a centralised availability (and booking) module to your web site is that your available weeks can be marketed and advertised throughout the internet - see  www.holiday-cottages.co.uk   www.country-cottages.co.uk   www.coastal-cottages.co.uk  etc.

 

 
Search Engines   Everyone wants to be on the first page which is not possible. Therefore other advertising sources both offline and online will need to be found. Try some local and national web portals. Your web site statistics will show you which ones are worth it. If possible, ask for a free 3 month trial to test their worth.

Here at  www.holiday-cottage.co.uk  we charge nothing for an advert and make our money through offering an availability search where there is a small charge (15 / year) to appear.

 

 
Up to date
 
  Last but not least show on your home page that your web site is up to date. There's nothing worse than to discover that the availability is from 2007 thus indicating that the web site hasn't been touched since then.

 

 
Information   For more information, a free advert or to apply for a 3 month free trial of a yearly calendar and to appear in the availability searches,  click to email us  giving details of your accommodation web site.  
       
 

 

 

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