If there’s one thing about scheduling and managing appointments for a business, it’s that it is an extremely tedious task. In today’s fast paced world, businesses often struggle with limited or irregular personnel when it comes to managing appointments.
However, there is a very simple solution to this problem – using online appointment booking systems. Such automated systems simplify the task of setting as well as confirming appointments tremendously. One of the easiest ways of implementing such a system is by taking advantage of WordPress plugins. You can simply use WordPress to create an appointment booking website and then use powerful plugins to manage your appointments seamlessly.
As someone who has years of experience with WordPress websites, I’d like to take this opportunity to create a tutorial that explains how to create an appointment booking website. Whether you’re new to WordPress or you are familiar with the CMS, this tutorial will act as a comprehensive guide. So, let’s dive into the process, shall we?
Before you can build your appointment booking website, you will first need to install and setup WordPress. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with WordPress, you can think of it as free software which powers a website. Using WordPress is really simple and intuitive and it allows you to build as well as edit web pages with ease.
WordPress makes use of various plugins to add functionality to a web page. You can use plugins to create a payment gateway or add appointment booking features right within your website.
So, if you haven’t yet installed WordPress, do it now! Once you have WordPress setup and running, creating an appointment booking website will take no time at all!
If you’re an absolute beginner to WordPress, then you may want to pause reading and check out my beginner tutorials on how to setup a website using WordPress.
Website developers all over the world love WordPress because of its many features and also because of its vast plugin library. This library includes over 25,000 plugins which offer every functionality that you want, appointment booking being one of them.
Now, when it comes to broad purposes such as SEO or caching, free plugins work very well for the job. However, adding appointment booking features is a specialized feature which most free plugins cannot handle properly. Trust me – I’ve tried several free plugins and I must say, most of them do not make the cut when it comes to adding appointment booking features.
As such, I advise you to stay away from free plugins (unless you want to spend hours finding your way). Rather, you should use high-quality premium plugins which can handle all aspects of appointment booking easily. Personally, I use the Bookly plugin to add appointment booking features to WordPress websites. I’ll tell you more about this plugin, but let’s take a look at some key plugin features which you must consider first.
Plugin Features to Look For
Creating a robust and intuitive appointment booking website includes a lot of features and functionality. Any plugin that you choose for this purpose should exhibit some important features. These include:
Multiple appointment booking calendars
Custom booking information
Appointment length settings
While having these features in a plugin is not an absolute requirement, they will make your website more functional. Not only do these features offer a wonderful user experience to your customers, but they will also make your employees’ tasks simpler. In turn, this will boost your business offering and encourage more people to book appointments with you.
Bookly is by far my favourite WordPress plugin for adding appointment booking features to a website. It is a fully responsive appointment booking and scheduling tool which is available in both free and premium versions. Bookly is incredibly easy to install and use on a WordPress website. It supports a wide array of services and allows businesses to setup bookings easily, effortlessly and efficiently.
You’ll need to download and install Bookly from the Envato Marketplace to start using it. Now, I’m pretty certain that you don’t want to pay for the premium version without getting a taste of the plugin first. So, I suggest that you download the lite version, which is free to use for the first couple of weeks. If you like the plugin enough, you can always purchase the premium version later on.
When you’ve downloaded Bookly, you can add it to your website through your WordPress dashboard. Once installed, you’ll see a menu item for Bookly with many features right within your dashboard.
Before you start adding appointment booking features, you will need to tweak some Bookly settings in your WordPress dashboard. To do so, head over to the settings section within the Bookly menu. Once you get there, add all your business information (including business hours and holidays). These settings will make appointment bookings easier for your customers.
After you’ve tweaked your Bookly settings, you’re all ready to get started with appointment booking features. Here, you’ll need to create various categories including the services you offer and the staff members who will attend to appointments.
Alongside category creation, you can also choose to design the appointment booking form. Bookly is highly customizable and allows you to change text fonts, color schemes and much more.
When you’re happy with the design of your appointment booking form, you should add some custom fields to it. These custom fields allow you to offer certain options to your customers. For example, a note or comments section is a custom field which allows you to interact with your customers better.
Finally, the most important appointment booking feature which you must pay attention to is setting up the payment gateway. Bookly supports all major payment gateways including PayPal and credit cards among others. You can even choose to add discount coupons if you please.
You can create all these booking features right from within the WordPress dashboard. Once again, WordPress is extremely intuitive and you’ll only need to edit (or add) a few fields and you’ll be on your way!
When you’re done creating all appointment booking features, you’ll end up with a booking page which includes the following menus:
Service: This menu allows customers to select from the services you offer.
Time: This menu displays the available times for making a booking.
Cart: This menu displays the services and the associated amount that a customer will pay.
Details: This menu allows you to offer details about the service to your customers. You can also add a comments section to find out if customers need any special service from you.
Payment: This menu displays the payment options to a customer and allows them to complete the booking from right within your website.
Done: This menu displays a confirmation to the customer that the appointment has been booked.
These menus make the appearance of an appointment booking form very intuitive and user-friendly. Once you have these menus properly setup, your customers will have no trouble in booking appointments.
You can watch a full video tutorial on the bookly plugin for wordpress here
Remember – these menus are highly customizable and I have only provided an outline of what to create. You can go in depth and create fancy menus with lots of information if you please. Else, you can just stick to a simple and minimalist form which makes appointment bookings very quick. It is completely up to you what you want your booking form to look like. Bookly offers tremendous customization options and you can really go deep with customization.
Using Bookly is extremely simple and straightforward. While you should have no trouble in using this plugin, you’ll find plenty of tutorials if you find yourself in a spot of bother. Also, Ladela Interactive, the team behind Bookly offer great support on the premium version of their plugin. If you purchase the plugin, you will get complete support from their helpful and knowledgeable team.
The possibilities of creating appointment booking forms with Bookly are endless. You have access to all the features you need (and much more), so you really needn’t look at other plugins. Whether you want to create the simplest appointment booking form or you want a unique and fancy one, you can do it all with Bookly.
Creating an appointment booking website using WordPress is fairly straightforward. Once you have WordPress installed on your website, you can use the Bookly plugin to create appointment booking forms. Bookly is an intuitive and user-friendly plugin and you’ll have no trouble using it. I’d rather say that you’re going to have good fun tweaking the plugin and creating your very own booking forms!
Do you already use Bookly for appointment bookings? Are there any other great plugins that you’re aware of which may be better than Bookly? Do let me know in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to hear from you.
Darrel is a wordpress promoter who teaches free wordpress tutorials on Youtube, Udemy, And SkillShare. He enjoys hiking, trying asian food, and taking his dog to the beach. He continues to provide free tutorials for wordpress themes, digital marketing, and wordpress plugins. He is currently the highest rated instructor on Udemy.com