It is essential that you invest in the front end of your business. We provide booking software for sports providers big and small, so we have seen and worked with our fair share of websites. Sometimes, it is not the flashiest, most expensive site that stands out (or indeed that takes in the most bookings). Having said that, nobody ever built a website out of peanuts. Hiring a website developer is a significant investment, costing upwards of three grand. Of course, this would give you a bespoke, glossy finish and a highly functional site. Many people choose to go with a DIY site builder, such as WordPress. Using such templates result in a more generic, less professional looking website, which often struggles to integrate with other software. Whatever route you choose, you must have a clear idea of the look and feel you want from your site.
Prioritise the visitor
You may want to get lots of useful marketing information from your customer via a booking form: How did you find us? Would you recommend us to a friend? Resist that urge. These questions are irritating and may lead to a customer dropping out before purchasing. Perhaps you want to hammer home your mission statement and flaunt your qualifications and triumphs. Yes, your business must look successful, but avoid slipping into the realms of boasting. Your website is not about you; it is about what you provide. So be generous; give them a taste of what you offer. Your site should be a virtual representation of your business; show what you provide, rather than telling them. Which leads us to the next point…
Photos are essential, but videos stand out
Most activity providers have lots of pictures of children having fun at their camps and courses. Instead of having a “Gallery” page, scatter these photos throughout your website so that every page is brimming with smiling students. Videos of practice or matches give potential customers a glimpse into the experience they will get if they sign up for your club.
Keep things simple
Start with a simple navigation bar, with clear headings, so your visitors immediately know which section to click. Nobody likes clutter: you only have to think about Ryanair’s jumble sale of a website to consider cancelling your holiday plans. Don’t have a master’s degree in the English Language? Don’t worry, because customers favour conversational English over stuffy technical jargon.
Mobile is fast becoming the surf medium of choice. It is vital that you consider how your website looks on both a desktop and a mobile. The mobile view is not merely a smaller version but must be explicitly designed with a phone screen in mind. Text should be clear and large enough to read, without having to zoom in. Include a slick, pop-up menu bar for easy navigation. A nice touch is a click-to-call feature, so customers can ring without having to dial the number.
This is the most important element of your website. Yes, we may be biased, but what is the point of your site if not for people to book your facilities and courses. OpenPlay’s bespoke booking system provides a streamlined booking experience. People can book on a desktop or via their mobile, meaning that your booking window is 24/7 and accessible from anywhere in the world.
Up to date information
So this is obvious, but make sure that everything a customer needs to know is there. If the last event advertised is for a summer course in 2005, they will assume you’ve closed up shop and will look elsewhere. Include a news section, so visitors can see that you have activities and events happening all the time. Age groups or available course are the first things that your customers will look for, so make this information easy to find. We would recommend having these available on your homepage as well as on their specific TAB so that visitors can click directly to a booking.
Connect your social media
People engage 25% more with brands that are on Instagram. Make sure to connect your social accounts with your website. Whatever platform you engage with most should be featured on your site; whether that is a rolling Twitter feed or an Instagram tile display.
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