Understanding different travel website users (and what they do there)NewsBy Viewpoints | March 5, 2014Share This article was originally published on Visualizing travel website visitor data, rather than simply collecting it in a vacuum, shows how different types of people use a search box and various filters.At the same time, segmenting visitor behviour will enable brands to customize their pages according to preferences, making sure they reach the widest audience possible.NB: This is an analysis by David-Dror Davidoff, chief revenue officer for ClickTale.So let's look at how to evaluate three types of travel website visitors and provide several tips and best practices to attract them to a site and improve conversion rates.There are three main types of search users:1. The determined visitor who just wants to shop.These visitors will usually view many pages, make their booking within one session, and care a lot about webpage components like user reviews and star ratings.2. The 'comparer' (comparison visitor that is looking for the best deal).These visitors will usually view even more pages than the determined visitor because they are looking for the best value.3. The hesitant/cautious visitor (who may just want to contact you).These visitors have one goal, which is to find your contact information and perhaps do business with you in person or on the phone. They are not interested in searching through your site for answers, nor to book online. How can you analyze each type of visitor and optimize your website to give them what they want, serve them better and get them to convert?Here are some tips that can help you:The determined visitor just wants to bookTo optimize your site for this profile of visitors, answer the following questions: How many search pageviews does each visitor browse through? For how many search results does each visitor have the patience to scroll down on each page?Which filters do they use most often? This will tell you how these visitors like to sort results and how often they need to refine them.How quick are your visitors to make decisions? Do they stop and look at all the information in the search results, or pay attention to a specific piece of information? Once you've characterized your determined visitors, here are some things you can do to improve their experience: Not all the information you are including on your pages is necessary for your visitors to make a decision. Remove information that draws less attention/engagement time, or place it below the fold.Change your default sorting option to be the most popular used by visitors.Offer several ways to sort results and make sure the most important information, such as ratings, reviews, price and location, are clearly visible and prominent on the page. There are other tools you can implement depending on your website's design and content. The short amount of time it takes to do this analysis not only benefits the redesign of your search pages but also future optimizations.The comparison visitor wants the best dealTo assess comparison visitors and optimize your site for them, answer the following questions: Are these visitors coming back to your site several times during their research period?Are they only looking at prices?Which filters do they use most often? How many of them click to view the next page of search results?How do these visitors interact with your product page? Do they pay attention to specific elements on the page?Is content is missing from your webpages at any or each stage of the booking process? Once you have observed and analyzed the behavior of the comparison visitors, there are several changes you can make to lead them in their path to convert: Make it easy for returning visitors to find their previous results, including their favorite trip, flight, hotel, etc. Store their search parameters in a cookie to make it available on their next visit.Make sure your site stands out above the rest; make elements more attractive, set clear calls to action – especially if your competition is offering similar deals.If you actually see that your visitors are only looking at the price, BINGO! You have discovered a usability pattern that you can address with your design. Stick to the price strategy, making it the emphasis of the page and remove insignificant information that can distract them. Alternatively, take some attention away from the price by adding elements like reviews, likes and thumbnail images that set your offers apart from your competitors.If you discover that visitors are hovering or tapping over specific information but constantly have to navigate back to the same page, they are not finding what they are looking for. Place important information on multiple pages on the way to booking. This way, you avoid their need to navigate backwards. Even if the information is clearly available on the product pages, people often need a reminder further into the checkout process.The hesitant/cautious visitor just wants to contact youTo optimize your website for this profile of visitors, answer the following questions: Where are visitors clicking as soon as they arrive to your homepage? If they go straight to your contact information, chances are they are not interested in completing their purchase online at that particular point in time.Are they hovering over information they need? If they are not, they are probably not seeing this information.Once they arrive to the contact form, which fields cause them to hesitate or abandon the form completely? Once you have observed the behavior of the hesitant visitor, you can take some clear optimization actions to enhance their experience and help them convert. If there is a form on the contact page, monitor if your visitors succeed in their mission. For example, if you have a phone number on your website, is it easy for your visitors to find? In-page analytics, heatmaps can tell you exactly where your visitors are looking and hovering.Locate areas of the page where visitors are looking and engaging, and insert contact info there.Reduce the amount of form fields to complete, indicate required fields, and/or add instructional content to facilitate the form-completion process.More takeawaysOnce you have segmented your visitors and learned their behavior patterns, there are other things you can do to improve your website's design and their desire to return. Here are some best practices that you should always keep in mind.1. Understand how different visitor personas use your search filters It is best to include no more than three filters for visitors to choose from, as too many options can seem tedious. Number of people, number of rooms and price are obvious filters to include. 2. Look for how many search results visitors scroll through Finding the right balance of search results to include on a page is crucial, as too many will cause visitors to just scan content and too few will cause them to leave. Note that average visitors only scroll through 10 search results or the first page. 3. Place emphasis on small page elements, as it’s often where visitors pay attentionVisitors want to know about all the perks and positive highlights of each search listing. Therefore, small page elements that can add significant value should not be ignored. These include star ratings, reviews, valuable amenities like free Wi-Fi in a hotel room, and of course, price. Visual cues are great to achieve this goal, including grid layouts, lists, clear images, and descriptive captions.NB: This is an analysis by David-Dror Davidoff, chief revenue officer for ClickTale.NB2:Globe keyboard image via Shutterstock.