Skip to content

Caroline Koldus

Dove Nest Booking Site Design

Project Overview

Dove Nest, a short-term vacation rental, needed a way for guests to find and book them outside of the crowded Airbnb search list. They needed a way to show off their amenities and how they stand out from their competition in an emphasized way. The site needed to be very visual, and the booking process to be easy enough for an older user to book their house without giving up in frustration in the process.

At first, the problem to solve was to simply create a site that had booking abilities. But as the designer, I undertook the question of how more could the site benefit their business besides creating a booking function.

Problem

Dove Nest is a newly opened vacation rental property that has increasing competition in their tight-knit small lake-town community. With online bookings being its only revenue stream, it needs a strong online presence to book guests.

Constraints

I encompassed all roles for this project on a limited budget. This led to compromising on more technical aspects of the site and less customization.

Role

Lead Designer

User research, Creative ideation, Design strategy, Task flows, Wireframing, Prototyping, Interaction design, Visual/UI design, Data visualization, Copywriting

Client

Dove Nest Guest House

Duration

2 months, Summer 2021

Empathize

To help understand the perspective of someone who would use our website and booking, I created a persona.

The persona, Carol, is an older housewife in the metropolitan area who needs to book a place to stay because she plans a nearby relaxing vacation for her and her friends. As a stay-at-home mom, she wants to book a trip close by for her mom’s friends, so that they can relax, and make fun memories back home.

This user would be wanting her end-to-end experience with the Dove Nest to facilitate these goals. The website must prioritize the needs of someone like Carol to delight her.

Research

To avoid my personal vacation booking preferences, and biases, I conducted a survey with a group of people that fit our persona demographics. The survey consisted of non-leading questions about previous experiences with short-term vacation rentals. Their answers would give insights into what we should advertise on the website.

Reading the answers participants gave I saw opportunities on how the website could fit their needs better than how our competitors have done. The Dove Nest had been recently renovated on a much grander scale than most other rental houses. This would appeal unanimously to the participants as all said they look for nicer appliances and furniture in their accommodation. It was also mentioned multiple times how an owner’s communication directly affected their experience. A website and booking process that was easy to understand and clearly explained the Dove Nest would meet that need.

Sticky Note Grouping

And finally, I interviewed a previous guest to hear from an actual previous client to be able to witness firsthand someone’s experience with us.

I went broad with my research because this was a first-time design for the Dove Nest, and there was no previous first-person research to consult with.

I narrowed down the feedback on the basis of whether or not it was related to the problem statement we were solving, and if it was a mutual problem for the target audience we were solving for.

With the exploratory research, I conducted a competitor analysis on both direct and indirect competitors to both get inspired by their features and how we could monopolize on their UX weaknesses. I saw a gap in the lack of guest reviews. From the survey, I knew this was of huge value to people during their decision-making process. The biggest gap that our competitors had that I could take advantage of was their sites’ navigation. Some were overcrowded, overwhelming the user on where to start to complete their task. Some had jargon in their headers that was not intuitive for the majority of users. The Dove Nest had an opportunity to provide simple navigation that would match the need of our older users to effectively book us for their stay.

Goals

Customers’ ability to independently find us and complete the self-booking process with ease.

From a business perspective, this independent booking feature outside of Airbnb needs to increase Dove Nest’s booking rate, thus, increasing overall profit for the owners.

The site needs to serve these purposes for the business.

  • Increase audience exposure.
  • Have a booking feature independent of Airbnb to increase Dove Nest’s booking rate.
  • Better the user experience of finding a place to stay in Granbury.

Ideating

Broadening

I built out the user flow map for someone to book the Dove Nest on the site. This made it easier to visualize all steps to be accounted for in structuring the site. I sketched out multiple wireframes on paper starting broad for how the site could solidify. I used the insights from my earlier research as a frame of reference for the hierarchy of the pages.

Left Side Home Page Wireframe

Right Side Booking Page Wireframe

Narrowing

By always having a lens of the user knowing that guests’ deeper purpose is to create charming memories for their friends and family, I came up with the solution of highlighting a spacious home, with a luxury feel, by using big beautiful pictures that accurately represent the home.

Responsive Design

It was important the computer and mobile experience of the site were consistent. This made the layout deliberate and focus on what content constituted space on the screen. I think this ultimately led to a more effective design by taking much consideration into the mobile layout.

Navigation Menu

Booking Process

Features

Booking

Booking directly on our site without relying on other 3rd parties enables trustworthiness since users can book directly with our business. The process is simple and easy to understand why what information is needed in the checkout process.

Simple Navigation

The hamburger navigation menu bar cleans the header for the main task to be executed, booking. The booking button is the prominent action to take and the hamburger menu make’s this obvious. More than that, by having the menu a pop-up, I can provide more options to click to without clogging up space. It reads vertically in popularity of what’s important to users.

Testimonials

The testimonial section rotates through first-hand accounts of guests’ stays at the Dove Nest. This is a gap with our direct competitors of lack of transparency between the host and guest for their stay that people in the decision-making process of which accommodation to choose to rely on.

Gallery

The gallery page creates an immersive experience of what it’s like to stay at our house. There is ample detail of the house through pictures of every room and the luxurious amenities that our target audience seeks out.

Local Guide

The Local guide section shows how our home is not only a central location for all guests to start from, but also delights with having all the information they need to plan their vacation in one spot.

Design Choices

Results

The results come in bookings of 30% more than a house on only shared booking sites. I will continue to measure results after connecting Google Analytics to the site to measure drop-off rates and conversion rates in the booking process.

I learned how working within a pre-fabricated website framework limits your design. The checkout page isn’t exactly how I wanted the design to look, which is frustrating not to have the full extent of the design fruited.

Being new in design, I felt a need to throw all of my design knowledge into the site. I wanted to display every design trend to show I was plugged in. In the beginning, I was prioritizing this over the actual effectiveness of the site. This thinking got in the way of the initial drafting of the site. It was after consulting the client and looking at the design with new eyes that made me realize I needed to simplify the color scheme, design interaction, etc. to only what serves the user’s actions on the site. This lesson is something I know many learn in their early career and that I will be taking with into future projects.