Please give me feedback on my mountaineering business website

Discussion in 'Website Reviews & Testing' started by K0608, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. K0608

    K0608 Full Member
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    Hi, I run www.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk, and whilst we do pretty well on Google for a large number of relevant search terms, I feel that we could be doing much better and that we're missing out on some key bits of business.

    The website has been built by our web developer, but he's pretty hands-off and for most updates etc. I look after it. If anything, I wouldn't mind if he was a bit more hands-on!
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
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  2. NickGrogan

    NickGrogan Full Member
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    First thing that leaps out is the links to trip advisor.

    The first one links to the homepage, the second to a page that says I can't book on trip advisor and offering to find other options. So now I assume you're closed and go book elsewhere.


    Trip advisor is supposed to bring leads in, but you're sending them out.
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: NickGrogan Member since: Nov 15, 2012
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  3. fisicx

    fisicx Moderator
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    It's a desktop site adapted for phones. And that means lots of scrolling that goes nowhere.

    I don't care about the moutnains and the waffle on the homepage. I want to see the tours. No idea where to click because you cover up the menu on my phone with the cookie thing. I'm not going to accept until I know what cookies you are settings.

    In any case, all you should have on the homepage are the trips. When I click on these I want to see pictures, itinerary, reviews and booking form specific to the trip.

    All you have is a generic form in the footer.

    You have a blog which links back to the trip page. But the trip pages (and reviews) don't link to the blog posts.

    But the root issue right now is the mobile layout. You need a site that really shines on a phone and does OK on a desktop. One of the problems is the theme. Enfold is clunky and dated and not very responsive (GTmetrix give you a D rating 56/100 and Google scores you 37/100).

    And I assumed you did trips on the west coast of the UK. When I saw Norway and Skye I got quite confused.

    There is more but that will do for now
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  4. JEREMY HAWKE

    JEREMY HAWKE Verified Business ✔️
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    I think the mountains and the waffle attract the interest Mountainy people like that type of thing !

    I am viewing it on a big telly and have not looked at it on the phone a couple of pages are half finished but the OP knows about this
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: JEREMY HAWKE Member since: Mar 4, 2008
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  5. fisicx

    fisicx Moderator
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    Nothing wrong with the waffle, just not on the homepage. The purpose of the site is to sell tours. The only reason people will be on the site is to choose and book a tour. So you need to connect the two.

    Just trying to browse trips and tours isn’t easy. But it could be with the right theme and site structure.
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  6. Alan

    Alan Verified Business ✔️
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    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: Alan Member since: Aug 16, 2011
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  7. Lucan Unlordly

    Lucan Unlordly Contributor

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    My initial reaction is that you should be promoting the safety of a guided walk as opposed to going it alone and adding a bit of sizzle, why try to reach the summit etc.,

    Very hastily redrawn example attached...
    [​IMG]
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: Lucan Unlordly Member since: Feb 24, 2009
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  8. Lucan Unlordly

    Lucan Unlordly Contributor

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    Posted: Jul 12, 2021 By: Lucan Unlordly Member since: Feb 24, 2009
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  9. Fagin2021

    Fagin2021 Full Member
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    One of the challenges with a website review is separating personal preferences from accepted practices. For example, I always dislike sliding 'hero images' on the home page. They irritate and distract me. Especially when accompanied by flying text. Some people however, especially developers, swear by them. Often they do it because they can do it, without regard to whether it's a better user experience.

    So, having made that caveat - your website.

    @fisicx made good points - especially the one about the site being designed for desktop. On a mobile I got scroll cramp trying to find the bit about actual courses. As a rule-of-thumb, if people have to scroll down more than 3 to 5 times to find what they want - they won't.

    You need to move all the 'about us' blurb onto another page, or at least hide it from mobile users so they get to the courses quicker.

    Despite the spectacular scenery, I found the site uninspiring. Statements like courses 'designed to meet your requirements' or 'achieve your ambitions' could be talking about anything. All the people standing on the top of peaks must have stories about how they got there. If I'm going to fork out £850 to do '5 days of guided ice climbing, tackling some of the best winter climbs Scotland has to offer' I'd like to know bit more about it please. If there is more, I didn't spot it.

    The booking form would make a minor bureaucrat in the council envious.

    There's no point going on and on. This could be a wonderful site but it's not. It gives the impression (to me at least) of a site put together on a shoestring without any real thought given to who might visit it and why. Do you trust your life on a mountain to people who skimp on a website?

    If it was me, I'd take the good bits and start again.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: Fagin2021 Member since: Jan 27, 2021
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  10. fisicx

    fisicx Moderator
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    This is probably where it all started to go wrong. A developer shouldn't go anywhere near the site until you have sorted out your marketing, written the content, designed the booking system and done some market research.

    All they have done is thrown a $59 theme together with a naff contact form and sent you the invoice. They claim to be a creative marketing team but I see no evidence of this on your site. If they were as good as they say they are you would have more booking than you can cope with. How much are they paying you for the link on the website?
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  11. Paul Carmen

    Paul Carmen Verified Business ✔️
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    As pretty much everyone above says, what are you trying to achieve? I've looked at the site and can't understand most of your journeys and how they fit with a marketing plan.

    The site lacks the sort of functionality you need to get lots of leads, or even better, bookings online; e.g. what are a the journeys for, or why are they missing: -
    • Why can't I filter by places, dates etc on the main course details/homepages (or category hub pages)
    • What is the booking form page for, why cant I see or book your availability online?
    • What is the booking form on each page for, why can't I see availability rather than having to make a speculative booking?
    • Why can't I book a course and pay online if I know what I want and its available?
    • Why do you use What's App as a contact process, if on desktop you have to install it, the same on mobile if you don't use it, why not just have live chat?
    • Why can't I buy a gift voucher online?
    Now I get some of this may seem difficult to do, especially if your availability is part of it, but its not that hard to create a database driven back end that manages this. The rest is ecommerce/category type functionality.

    Even if you need T&Cs or to cover some basics before they book, this could easily be done as part of the booking, or by getting them to agree to the T&Cs as part of the booking process.

    As @fisicx says, why is the site not mobile first designed, I bet 70%+ of your traffic is on a mobile... There are also a lot of basic errors even from a desktop perspective, that become much worse on mobile; e.g.
    • you have to scroll to find a call to action or click 'Find Out More' to do anything on most pages
    • finding a course is driven by menus and sub menus rather than categories on mobile, so is not easy or appealing
    • the contact form is not visible on the page when you arrive on the contact page!
    • header and much of the text is in capitals and a large font on mobile, meaning its hard to read and very long on some pages (taking up more than a page on mobile for some)
    I've not gone into the content, or how the site performs search wise, as I saw your separate thread on this. Realistically, the content may be good, but the site needs to be rebuilt as part of the marketing exercise, putting customer first journeys at the heart of the marketing and lead/sales generation plan.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: Paul Carmen Member since: Jan 27, 2018
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  12. K0608

    K0608 Full Member
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    Wow, thanks for the feedback so far, there's quite a lot to go through!

    In all honesty, many of the mountaineering businesses in my area, many of whom are run by friends, follow quite a similar model, offer similar products and the text is more or less the same. If anything, we're viewed as one of the leading (and certainly one of the most established) and if we do something, others tend to copy. I was fortunate to inherit the business, the domain has been active since the early 90s.

    It sounds like we need a website that is much more geared up towards trips, particularly if we want to grow what we offer.

    One of the issues with on-line booking is that by and large, we need to find freelance guides for most of our trips. This does increase the admin aspect of the business and means that all bookings are manually processed (by me). I would love something more automated.

    We only ask clients to fill out the booking form once they've committed to booking.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
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  13. K0608

    K0608 Full Member
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    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
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  14. Paul Carmen

    Paul Carmen Verified Business ✔️
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    Having done some of these type things myself on holiday, and having a young adult in the family who's interested in it, they are two different audiences, and my own behavior differs whether I'm planning a holiday or actually already on holiday.

    In planning mode I'm far more likely to research and contact on the phone, go back and forth by email etc, as is our son who's a climber. The contact, non ecommerce method is fine here.

    On holiday, not so much, I want the site to tell me what I need and guide/reassure me with reviews, info etc. (especially if I'm not from the country I'm visiting). I've booked mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding and quad bikes on the strength of the site and reviews, then via online booking.

    Now, I don't know your market that well, it may be mainly planners, but that's why you need to undertake customer and market research as part of the marketing/site build/SEO project.

    I've not looked at either site in detail, but from a quick glance Scottishrockandwater.com is much better regards filtering results, dates, info etc. This would lead to customers being able to drill down more to what they want much more easily and is only a step away from online booking & payment if they ever want to scale. The other site does let you buy online (with short future dates for most courses), so both would allow easier research and likely generate more leads and sales than your site.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: Paul Carmen Member since: Jan 27, 2018
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  15. fisicx

    fisicx Moderator
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    YES!

    If I want an all in trip then I'll book online. If I want something more personal I'll be picking up the phone or sending an email first.

    Market testing will tell you which is best for for your target client.

    Either way, if you want to get lots of juicy leads you need to change the site. Not just tinker, you need to start from the ground up.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  16. UKSBD

    UKSBD Moderator
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    Who actually uses you?

    Do people contact you and just turn up?
    Is it people who have already booked accommodation near by who then look for guides?
    Is it the accommodation providers who recommend you to guests?

    It all seems a bit strange to me, I would have thought it's just a small aspect of something you book as a package.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2021 By: UKSBD Member since: Dec 30, 2005
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  17. K0608

    K0608 Full Member
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    It's mostly hillwalkers and mountaineers, most of whom will book with us, then sort out accommodation, rather than already being up here. Our clients often have specific objectives, rather than just looking for an experience and will often book months in advance.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
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  18. fisicx

    fisicx Moderator
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    In which case you need to build a site that caters for them. Keep it really simple:
    • Show the walks
    • Provide options (walk only, accommodation, travel, equipment hire etc)
    • Give them a means to contact you
    These people want the bespoke service - so make it personal. Sex it up and make them feel like the trip is just for them.

    The layout and style of the pages is far less important than the stories you tell and the connection you make with the traveler.

    This is where it went wrong right from the start. The developer focused on the site not the content. Content is key to your success. The theme/colours/fonts are secondary.

    With the right words and pictures, organised so it's easy to navigate and your ranking will improve across the board and you will get far more leads.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2021 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  19. The Byre

    The Byre Full Member
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    This - and with knobs on!

    Websites are the direct descendants of old-fashioned direct mailings and magazine ads. If you want to sell something, you must primarily mention the customer - the words 'you' and 'your' should be in almost every sentence. "Your experience" "your holiday" and not eight paragraphs that only tell me about the company and how great you are! The last and ninth paragraph gives the poor old customer three grudging mentions.

    Bad copy - "Our instructors and guides have the highest levels of mountaineering qualifications recognised throughout the UK (AMI) and abroad (IFMGA)."

    Better copy - "Your guides have the highest levels of mountaineering qualifications recognised throughout the world."

    But here's the kicker - despite mentioning yourself dozens and dozens of times, I still know nothing about you and your team. You and your team remain strangely anonymous! A simple 'About Us' page with photographs would cover it. (I looked and found your 'About Us' page and it featured just one person!)

    Here are two books on how to write good content - 'Making Ads Pay' by John Caples. Caples wrote what is possibly the greatest advertisement of all time that was headed "They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play . . ." He wrote that long-copy magazine ad over 100 years ago and it is still studied (and copied!) today.

    The second book (and more contemporary) is 'How to Write Sales Letters that Sell' by Drayton Bird. He learned his trade under David Ogilvy and today heads his own agency that specialises in writing persuasive copy.

    (Another very inspiring book is by Sergio Zyman called "The End of Advertising as We Know It!" He was head of marketing at Coca-Cola and is another marketing expert who emphasises the importance of actually making sales and producing a profit.)

    Fancy websites and are full of 'creative design features' seldom sell. Websites that extol the virtues of the company but fail to mention the customer and the benefits to the customer seldom sell.

    If you look at the great websites that dominate their markets and wipe the floor with the competition, they are all bland and just brutally functional. No fancy animations, no clever design features, no pop-ups, in fact, nothing that gets in the way of the customer finding whatever it is that they want. Google, Amazon, eBay, YouTube - brutal functionality.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2021 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
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  20. MBE2017

    MBE2017 Contributor

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    Only had a quick look since much better guys have advised already on things too look at. I would recommend getting your client feedback on view straight away, rather than having to scroll down three times on an iPad.

    Then I also noticed the same reviews cropping up a few times, when you have hundreds. The reviews will sell your service more than anything else, this one, not on your site but trip advisor is what you need to get seen.

    “Our favourite part of our experience(s) - we’ve used west coast mountain guides twice now - was traversing the cuilin ridge over two days (with an overnight bivvy on the side of one of the Munro’s) with our guide Dave (what a legend he is) We utterly enjoyed the whole experience and cannot reccomend you guys enough. What an amazing and thrilling memory to have made with my husband and a Christmas gift I truly will remember for life.”

    You have a recent review from a returning client, a glowing testimonial stating it was a trip that they will remember for life. You cannot write better advertising copy if you tried, plus it is an honest review, USE IT.

    I would recommend a box which is at the side of any viewed page, with one or two testimonials in them all the time, but select them personally.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2021 By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
    #20