Fall is a great time of year to start something new, so we at Incite Response are launching a monthly website review called WordPress Website of the Month. There are worlds of fantastic WordPress websites in the hotel universe and, let’s be frank, a few that are equally as bad. In this series, we’ll be taking a look at the best of the best. If the website was built by us, we will of course point that out.

But First, the WordPress Reputation

WordPress sometimes get a bad reputation simply because it is so user friendly. The downside to this is that the door is opened to inexperienced users creating less-than-stellar websites in looks, function, security or all three. The upsides, however, far outweigh the downside. WordPress is open-source – hotels can own and not rent their website after it’s programmed. It’s user-friendly, which means if you’d like to change a word here and there yourself, you can. The benefits go on.

And the Winner is… Sands Hotel and Spa

This is a really fun website and fun sells rooms. The design is clean and has fluid movement that sets it apart from the usual template-based hotel websites. The photography and brand elements come together to set the stage for booking.

Everyone agrees a few bad photos can drag down a great site and brilliant photography draws a user in. This site delivers on the photos.

Good design often comes down to knowing when to stop. Here’s a collective “thank you” to the designer for not cluttering this site up.

The Sands website looks just as good on mobile as it does a laptop – even the movement translates well.

The Non-So-Rosey

The site does have some troubles. It has a slow loading time at 5.28 seconds and Google will penalize for that. This load time can be sourced to either the hosting system or a plug-in that isn’t playing well with other plug-ins. A deeper dive into the site is in order to reveal the trouble. Also, the site is not taking advantage of the benefits of a CDN. A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that delivers pages and other web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server. CDNs also provide protection from large surges in traffic.

The site is not serving over SSL. This is another hit to its Google rank. Every website should be serving https: files with secure content.

The website appears to be in the early phases of getting its SEO footing. Google sometimes takes a while to fully index a new site and it takes even more time to get the needed backlinks to build site strength. This may be taking longer due to the site’s speed and security issues.

Kudos to Sands Hotel & Spa for standing apart from the crowd! All in all, it’s a great site and there’s no problem here that can’t be fixed by a hotel WordPress website expert.