Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Travolution@WTM-The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Country western queen Dolly Parton once declared, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap”.

Unfortunately, there are a number of travel web sites that can make the same claim, according to Peter Matthews, managing director,

Speaking during the Travolution conference at World Travel Market, Matthews explained that while design—be it for furniture, clothes or a travel website--was once a privilege of the few, today a good design does not have to cost anymore than a bad one.

The “democratisation of design”, as Matthews referred to this concept, is key to understanding what motivates consumers to buy one product over another, or, in the case of online travel, book a trip on one site versus a competitor site offering similar inventory.

Visitors who stay on a site for less than 15 seconds or who view only one page are commonly referred to as “bouncers”, according to Matthews.

This is a big problem for a lot of sites, including those which invest in what they think are sharp designs.

“If users don’t find what they are looking for instantly, or if the site is slow to load, they bounce. You are now in the business of instant gratification and a site's design is a compelling part of the user experience.”

A well designed site, said Matthews, will look beyond the Home Page and think about how to enter visitors at a deeper level and cut out the number clicks needed to escort them to the booking stage.

"If you are paying a fortune to Google to get people to your site, only to have them bounce once they get there, you are wasting a lot of money", said Matthews.

And here you thought Dolly Parton had nothing in common with online travel.

Tricia Holly Davis
Freelance Journalist

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