Building a clean and modern look for a glamping business


Oxford Riverside Glamping is a family-run glamping business designed to help visitors relax and spend time in nature. I redesigned their website to reflect their ethos, help reduce admin time, improve clarity and understanding, and improve the UI with a modern, fresh and clean look.



Responsibilities


End to end development, including...

  • Conducting UX research and market research

  • Developing user journeys and personas

  • Editing web copy

  • Wireframing and high-fidelity prototyping

  • Developing the site on Wix



Key Performance Achievements

  • Decreasing unnecessary admin tasks by over 40%, saving approximately 72 hours or 9 full working days of company time.

  • Splitting the glamping website from a discontinued part of the business (B&B).

  • Making the website mobile-responsive, an expected function with modern websites.



Making the digital experience as relaxing as the real one


Part of my discovery phase was extensive analysis of the glamping site reviews on Booking.com and Tripadvisor. I analysed over 170 reviews, ranking the most common descriptors of the glamping experience by frequency (pictured to scale below). This helped me better understand both the strengths of the business and the ideal experience users were looking for. I took these as key priorities for the UI of the site, that both the digital and physical experience of glamping should be clean, beautiful, relaxing, comfortable, and well-maintained.



Many glampers liked the idea of camping...but without the mess


This exercise of analysing reviews also brought out a key demographic of our user base, which helped inform my user personas later on. I found out that many of our users were first-time glampers who prioritised convenience and cleanliness. They might want to get back to nature, but would prefer it without the fuss and the mess.


Some direct quotes from real reviews:


“Definitely would recommend for anyone who dislikes camping but wants to camp.”

“All the benefits of getting back to nature but the comfort of a double bed and clean white sheets!”

“Like camping but comfortable!”

“A chance to relax in the outdoors but without any need to pack a whole car load of camping gear or worry about hot showers or any of the essentials!”

From this I understood I needed to emphasise what was provided as part of the glamping package and how much was taken care of, since that is the principal thing many first-time glampers care about.




Digging deeper into data


These reviews had other basic demographic attached, which was really helpful in developing my user personas. I learned:



The vast majority of visitors are from the UK. Of Europeans, the Dutch visit most frequently. Non-UK visitors tend to almost exclusively book via Booking.com rather than via the website.




Women outnumber men approximately 2:1 when booking glamping. From owner experience, full-site bookings are almost exclusively made by women for their extended families or friends.



Of course, this data may change in the future, due to the impact of Brexit and COVID-19 impacting international travel. If anything, the market for this business will probably be increasingly UK-based than European, at least for the next few years.



Three key types of users


I interviewed the owners of the business, who confirmed the findings above from their experience, and also added that users were often:

  • City/town dwellers, who maybe didn't have much of their own outdoor space or access to nature

  • First-time glampers

  • Generally white and middle-class

  • Potentially time-poor

  • Divided into couples, young families, and large groups of 30+ who booked the whole site

They were very rarely:

  • Individuals by themselves

  • A family group with teenagers

  • Families with young babies

Informed by data and the above reflections, I describe three key user archetypes:



These personas reflect the three main bookings the glamping site receive - from couples, young families, and whole-site bookings.





Looking at their experiences


From these personas, I tried to get to know their pain points by going on a journey of the existing booking process.




My main takeaway from this experience was that the current email booking system had serious flaws, and the back-and-forth process wasn't helping anybody. Not only was it frustrating for the customer, I suspected it was a waste of staff admin time too. Customers in 2021 have quite high expectations of instantaneous booking (especially younger people) and that may be frustrating.


I decided to dig a little digger into the data of email correspondence.



Checking email correspondence for clues


With the company's permission, I analysed over 650 anonymised emails to see how email correspondence may be impacting the process and user experience.


Of all requests, availability enquiries dominated. Then came requests for information, followed by information from guest like arrival timings and to confirm payments. A small minority of enquiries were to amend bookings, smaller than I expected.


Types of information requests


People still had queries which were obviously not addressed in the previous website:

  • What to bring

  • Questions on the facilities and what was provided

  • Local amenities nearby like shops and attractions

  • Booking and payment details

From this I concluded that there was possibly a lack of information that could be covered on the new website.


Errors in availability requests


The main method of booking on the existing website was an email address. Because certain rules weren't displayed explicitly on the website, and there was no error control, there were often mistakes in the booking process.


Most errors involved:

  • An unspecified number of guests/tents - 25%

  • Unspecified dates - 24%

  • Trying to book for one night only - 15%

  • The booking exceeding the maximum for a small group - 14%

  • Out of season bookings - 12%

  • Asking to camp - 6%

  • Wanting to bring a dog - 4%


From analysing the total number of errors, it was clear that 50% of all emails contained at least one error which meant the booking could not be processed without clarifying or changing information. This led to a significant amount of frustration and time wasted on extra admin - together with staff I calculated approximately 72 hours of wasted time.


From this I intimated several potential solutions:

  1. Being able to view availability would significantly reduce errors and unsuccessful enquiries

  2. Either an enquiry OR direct booking form with good error feedback

  3. Much clearer information on the website about rules



Sketching the initial structure



This was my initial information architecture, based on the text copy received from the clients, and my learnings from UX research about which areas perhaps needed more detail. In the end it didn't look quite like this - from further analysis it wasn't necessary to have several different pages for booking for individuals and large groups, or a separate page on COVID-19 precautions. It was overcomplicating the site. So we stripped it back in these areas.


The clients also had plenty of extra beautiful photos of the site that couldn't fit in the existing pages. They requested a gallery page during the revision stage.





Developing the page layouts


The results


A clearer booking system


The eventual booking page was far more detailed than the original 'Contact us' page - it broke down options based on the size of group, giving clear details on the price and minimum number of nights to reduce errors. It then directed people either to Booking.com for smaller bookings, or as an email enquiry form for large groups.


This form had much better error management, asking clients for much clearer details:

  • The number of adults

  • The number of children

  • The number of tents

  • The check-in date

  • And the number of nights

It has error feedback for when users try to submit to stay for less than the minimum of two nights.




More detail on the beautiful local area


I added much more detail on the life and activities available around the site, including:

  • Great local food, restaurants, bars and cafes

  • Outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking and watersports

  • Nearby attractions like Blenheim Palace

Whilst helping users to explore the area autonomously before they arrive, it also meant that the admin staff of the glamping site didn't have to retype information via email every time someone made an enquiry about the surrounding area.




In conclusion


This was a fantastic project to work on. It was a great collaborative experience with the clients, and they were very pleased with the results.


Just had a look over the site and everything is looking great! Very pleased with it, you've done a fantastic job.

Alex, company director


It'll take a little while for the impact to be fully reviewed, but we anticipate a smoother, fuller experience for the users, and less time and labour for staff.