Impressive First Impressions

Contributed by Shaun Merrill,

It used to be that a guest's first impression of an inn started at the curb and culminated in a warm smile and friendly greeting of the innkeeper. The industry has changed and it's a tragedy that their first interaction with your business no longer happens in person. Their first impression was your Comic Sans typeface, and animated-gif images on your non-responsive website.

Books are not the only things judged by their covers. Whether you admit it or not, your business gets the same treatment online. First-time viewers will form an opinion of your establishment based on your website. A poorly-designed or outdated website is a red flag for viewers. A good website conveys that you are a professional.

To make an impressive first impression, here is a summary of principles good websites use:



"An attractive website gets second glances"

  • High quality photographs and images catch the eye and show that you are a professional. Nothing says amateur like grainy or pixelated images.
  • Visually appealing websites make good use of color (but not too many colors).
  • Easy-to-read fonts are a must. Flowery fonts are often used to compensate for poor website design, but are difficult to read.



"Too many elements or colors on a page make your reader feel like several people are talking to them at once."

  • Simplicity is your friend. Websites with simple designs allow the reader to focus on the pictures and information.
  • Backgrounds and colors enhance rather than distract from the message. Less is more.
  • Main navigation is kept to a minimum with more sub-navigation.



 "A good cover gets the book opened, good content keeps them reading"

  • A good website has content that is concise, organized and current. Errors in facts decrease credibility.
  • A page contains all information relevant to one idea.
  • Text has been made easy to skim with subheadings, bullet points and shorter paragraphs.



"Replace the burned out bulbs on your website"

  • Everything "works," including links, videos and signup sheets.
  • Contact information is correct.
  • A well-designed responsive website that adapts to mobile devices. No zooming in and out necessary.



"A beautiful website no one can find is a tragedy"

  • What's going on under the hood? It is important to have search engine-friendly, specific keywords in the text and the code. Research proper keywords, titles, and headings.
  • Websites that are built predominantly with Flash, Javascript, or text inside images can't communicate with search engines.
  • Get as many reviews as you can from Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other directories.  Search engines find these reviews important, which will help your SEO.

All these factors create an experience for your viewers. What experience does your site create? A good website is your smile, your voice and your handshake to online customers. By following these principles, they will feel your warmth and professionalism that will ensure bookings.

BnBwebsites designs effective and mobile-friendly websites for the lodging industry. Visit their website at