Your website: friend or foe?

IT’s no secret that I spend a lot of time on the internet. Surprisingly enough, not all of this time is spent on social networking platforms – I also regularly read a variety of blogs, keep up with industry events via websites like, and generally expend time looking at travel, hospitality and leisure company websites.

It’s the latter that, in this part of the world, all too often cause me to either yawn or roll my eyes in exasperation. Put simply: there’s a lot of bad web design out there, which is a real shame, because putting together a good-looking and user-friendly website is easier and cheaper today than ever in the history of the internet.

Are you planning to get a new website for your business or are unsure whether your current site does more harm than good?

Here’s a few quick do’s and don’ts when it comes to web design for our industries:

• Don’t use Flash. Ever. Just don’t. Flash is incredibly yesterday and even then it was probably a bad idea. If your web designer recommends Flash, hire a new designer.

• Don’t use music on your website unless you’re in the music business. Particularly, do not use music that starts to play automatically as soon as I land on your website. Few things are more annoying than auto-play music on websites.

• Make your website responsive or create a separate mobile website. 40 per cent of all travel searches start off on mobile devices. Would you close your doors to 40 per cent of your potential customers? Surely not!

• Pop-ups and splash pages or other floating widgets: anything that pops up or floats around (often hiding useful content in the process) makes me want to poke you in the eye with a sharp pencil. At the very least, it’ll distract me from the content of your website and makes me spend less time on your site.

• Live mascots or obtrusive live chat windows: Live chats can be a useful customer service tool, but should really be on request and not automatically pop up as soon as I enter your page. As for live mascots, or animated people-like figures hovering on the screen and talking to me: No, just no. Whoever came up with this in the first place has a lot of questions to answer!

• Make it easy to navigate your website: Think of it as helping your website visitors on a journey. They should be gently guided through the sales funnel and nothing important should be hidden or difficult to access.

• Pick a nice background colour: Don’t make it black, unless you have a very good reason to do so. Research shows that conversions are higher on websites with a lighter background colour.

Martin Kubler