Here at Designer Websites, we've created online booking systems for a wide variety of clients. Examples of the solutions we've developed include:
💊 Appointment booking systems for health clinics
🔧 Boiler installation booking systems for plumbers / heating engineers
😊 Visitor booking systems for leisure centres
⛷️ Equipment booking systems for ski holiday providers
⚖️ Consultation booking systems for legal practitioners
With all of these projects and more under our belt, we have a very strong understanding of what makes a good online booking system. Here are the five things that we consider to be most important:
A smooth, speedy user interface
Like any online application, an e-booking system should make the user's experience as pleasant and as painless as possible by loading quickly and functioning flawlessly. Your customers don't want to sit around twiddling their thumbs as they wait for a list of available timeslots to appear; nor will they enjoy trying to work out what to do next when your date selector doesn't load properly and the day they want to book isn't visible. Aim to get both your booking system and your website as a whole operating smoothly, with no glitches, no hiccups, and minimal load times.
A user-friendly date selection system
Make it as easy as possible for users to identify and select their preferred date and time. Many online booking systems utilise a month-by-month calendar layout, which is great because it's a format with which most people are familiar. However, whether you use the calendar style or not, you need to ensure that your customers can easily specify:
- Their preferred date (or date range if, for instance, they're booking a holiday)
- Their preferred time (if applicable)
- The duration of their appointment
- The type of appointment they're booking (if you offer a range of different services)
If users find it difficult to make these selections, they may well abandon your website and take their business elsewhere.
A clear breakdown of charges
Before asking for any payment details, you should provide each user with a cost summary that clarifies:
- How much is owed
- When this amount must be paid
In some cases, the full amount will need to be paid up front in order to confirm the booking; in other cases, the user may have to put down a deposit or booking fee to reserve their timeslot, with the remainder of the cost to be paid in person on the day of the appointment. Some hotels take credit card details upon reservation, but do not collect any money at all until check-in. However you have chosen to do it, it's important to make things crystal-clear to each customer before asking them to enter their payment information.
A simple and secure payment system
When your booking system includes an online payment step, the rules are just the same as on an ecommerce website
: make the payment process as straightforward and as secure as possible. Consider using a popular online payment system like PayPal, as this will allow many of your customers to simply enter an email address and password instead of typing in their entire credit card number. Don't demand any personal information that you don't actually need - the longer the form, the more likely that a customer will give up before completing it. And, most importantly of all, make ABSOLUTELY sure that all payments are processed securely (under HTTPS rather than HTTP).
A detailed confirmation email
Once a customer has completed a booking on your website, you should immediately dispatch a confirmation email containing all the key details of their appointment (e.g. date, time, location, outstanding costs that you're expecting them to settle on the day). You should also endeavour to make it nice and easy to change appointment details in the event of an error; for example, if somebody requested a 2pm appointment when they actually wanted a 4pm appointment, you now need to give them an easy way of correcting their booking, whether by contacting a member of your team or by manually editing their appointment details online.
So, what makes a good online booking system? In short: clarity, simplicity, efficiency, and ease of use. If your business needs a new website with a fully-integrated online booking system, get in touch with Designer Websites now
to request a quotation!