Role: Website Designer, SEO Specialist
Dermot Walsh has been renting an apartment building out on airbnb, but wants to branch out to other booking sites and maybe even create his own website to attract more clients. His main problems are that Airbnb clients usually opt for short stays meaning less revenue and more time spent cleaning for him, and that airbnb charges too many fees, which drives up the prices for guests. Our idea? Direct traffic to a private booking website and brand it as a coworking/coliving space for digital nomads, as these types of clients are typically looking to stay for a while.
Dermot needs a website that will attract clients who will stay for longer periods of time. He doesn’t like that airbnb charges high prices and cuts his profit as a host, so he needs to be able to rent rooms and take payments directly from the website.
Attract digital nomads
Lengthen the extent of the stays being booked
Increase Dermot’s revenue
Create an aesthetically pleasing and user friendly booking website.
Working with a client’s existing imagery
Using Wix, which has certain limitations, especially when using booking/payment features.
I looked to several hostel sites while deciding how to approach the branding issue. Frequent travelers are often aware of upscale hostel chains such as the Selinas and Casa Viajero. Dermot pointed to a company he admired called Co404, which specialized in coworking spaces and semi-luxurious lodging. I took inspiration from their branding and what they chose to highlight about the business-––pointing to things like affordable pricing, strong wifi, ease of making friends, and shared living spaces. I also noticed that these businesses gained traffic through Instagram, using the existing algorithm to push new visitors to their booking site.
A couple of the things I noticed from the sites I visited were that they used muted color pallets in order to let the imagery stand out. Bold, distinctive typeface for headings and logos, but modern serif fonts for any large blocks of texts. Buttons were sleek and minimal. Overall the style was minimamlist in order to make the imagery the main focal point.
Create 3 pages
Home - describe the service being sold
About - give details about the rental property and surrounding area
Book - guests book their room and pay ahead of time
Create a strong mobile website so that users directed from Instagram can book from their phone
Keep look and feel of the site relaxed and minimalist, focusing on imagery
Include keywords such as coliving, coworking, digital nomad, comfort, and strong wifi in the site text itself, but especially when optimizing the site's searchability (SEO)
Designing the site
I used Wix to create the website because it allowed me more creative flexibility than Squarespace, and because of its affordable pricing. I created three pages--one to establish what the product was and why guests should want to stay, one to give more details and photos of the space, and one to book the room. Wix has a built in booking feature, so I didn’t have to create additional pages. Dermot chose to use Stripe to take payments, so I didn’t have to create a payment page either.
Because the imagery was somewhat colorful, I chose to keep the brand colors toned down.
I’ve created websites for clients before, and my process was usually to email or message them about their vision, inspiration, and the goals they were hoping to accomplish, then to build the site and do my best to achieve it. This time, however, I was able to have several free-form meetings with Dermot about what he wanted to do. This allowed us to establish a positive working relationship, and also helped me get a clearer sense of his vision, goals, and the problems his business was facing.
I think whenever possible, it's important to take time with clients and let them talk openly about the issue or project they want to address. More insights and solutions are uncovered when people don't feel pressured to know the right answer, and this openness allows for a flow of creative solutions.
Now that I've finished the site itself, I'm focusing on increasing site traffic. This means posting the website link elsewhere and increasing user interaction by posting reels and video content on the ColivingGuanajuato Instagram page. I plan to use the same keywords that I came up with when optimizing the site's searchability as hashtags–-#digital nomad, #Guanajuato, #traveler, #coliving, #coworking.