Quick and easy website testing for hotels [Part 1]

This article is from Triptease's Customer Success team. Get in touch to find out how the Direct Booking Coaches can help your hotel.

Homepage tour

Guests are on your website. They made it through the chaos of web searches, millions of distractions, and are one step away from clicking the 'book' button! At this stage, it is your responsibility to reward them with an amazing online experience, and help them make that final booking decision. If guests find the website experience confusing and difficult to navigate, their chances of booking right there and then are, unfortunately, slim. Make online experiences for your customers quick, easy, and enjoyable - and watch your direct website bookings grow.

In this series, we'll take you through some quick and easy usability tests you can perform on your hotel website. All you need are some willing participants - the only criteria being that they've never seen your website before.

Let's start with a quick and effective homepage tour user test that has the potential to highlight how you can improve your page bounce rates and convince potential guests to book.

What is it?

A homepage tour assesses how good your homepage is at achieving its goal: that is, convincing visitors to book. An invitation to book has to be the most obvious call to action (CTA) on your homepage, which is after all the first page most visitors will see. Potential guests will make a split-second decision to proceed based on what they think of your homepage.

Once you've gathered your test participants, ask them to take a look at your homepage and tell you what they think. Encourage users to comment and think out loud as much as possible as they navigate through the website. Make it clear that there are no right or wrong answers. You are looking to assess whether your page allows website guests to easily and successfully do what you want them to do - book direct!

Here are some examples of questions to ask during a homepage tour:

  • What's the first thing you notice?

  • What do you think you can do on this site?

  • Who is this site intended for?

Top tips for a homepage tour

Avoid leading questions. Leading questions suggest to your users what the desired response might be. This type of question will never give you an authentic, unbiased answer. An example of a leading question would be, "Can you see where the 'book now' button is?". In response to this, your test participants would in all likelihood start looking for a button that says BOOK - whether they understand the purpose of the website or not.

Instead, you could ask something like, "How would you go about making a room reservation?". This question does not give users hints about what to look out for. Let your test subjects show you how they would solve a task on their own, just as your website visitors in the real world would.

Choose open-ended rather than closed questions. Closed questions are questions that can only be answered with 'yes' or 'no'. By using closed questions, you lose an opportunity to hear your participants' thoughts and gather valuable qualitative evidence.

Try replacing "Do you think the booking menu is easy to use?" with "Tell me what you think about the booking menu." You are guaranteed a more thoughtful answer.

Think quality, not quantity. A homepage tour delivers value quickly, and you only need three to five participants to highlight any major frustrations. Don't spend too much time recruiting hundreds of participants and testing for weeks on end; any concerns with your homepage are likely to be highlighted by the first few participants. Instead, invest time into listening to your test users, and encourage them to speak with you about their experiences as much as possible.

Why usability testing matters

If website visitors find a page difficult to navigate, they probably won't stay longer than 10 seconds. Think of your homepage as your first impression on a guest - one that matters as much online as it does face-to-face. In order to keep your potential guests with you - and hopefully convince them to book - your homepage has to be user friendly, clear, easy to navigate, and enjoyable to use.

Make your 'book now' button stand out if your test shows that it takes too long to find.

Communicate the purpose of your website and who it is for to reduce the rate of users leaving.

Make your user experience streamlined and easy from the very beginning, starting with your homepage.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll take you through scenarios testing.

About The Author

Anna is Technical Customer Success Manager at Triptease

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