Monday, December 14, 2009

I love my new faucet


I hadn't planned on posting again til the new year but I as I was washing my face this morning, I had one of those light bulb moments - I LOVE my new faucet. I love it.

And it struck me how relevant my new faucet story was to the path of getting a new website.
So pay attention.

My Mom loves to home improve. And I like it... to a certain degree. Certainly not as much as my Mom. Some people like technology, others LOVE it.

So my bathroom looks the same as it did 10 years ago. And while everything was functional, the tops of the faucets...those H and C plastic things, would fly off each time I turned them on, and it was one of those models with a lot of detailing and would therefore collect a lot of soapy "crud" on it that I hated to clean off.

Frankly I didn't spend a lot of time looking at it because it wasn't pretty.

Anyway, I saw a nice one with clean lines in the Home Hardware flyer on sale, a really really good sale. So I bought it - in August.

And then I went on with my life, and it sat in it's box on the counter judging me. And lingering in the back of my mind as basically a $50 investment in a box of parts.

Finally last week, I used Facebook to find a friend willing to help me install it, so I could move it from faucet investment to faucet usage.

And I loved it from the first time I turned it on.

It's fantastic. It turns on with one finger. And the aerator is saving me water. And it looks so shiny and new. And it came with a sink stopper mechanism! (Before I just had a hole and a rubber stopper plug - which I never used because who knows where the plug is hiding)

So the new faucet needed a new mirror to go with it, and so I installed that this weekend.

Lessons I've learned from this:

1. It feels so GOOD to finally complete a task that is sitting in the back of your mind. So if you're contemplating a new site or updates or changes, just DO THEM! It's so refreshing to take steps forward.

2. Improvements are great. There is always a new technology, even in faucets, that will make your life easier and save you time (or water). While there was no learning curve involved with my faucet, there will be with a new website. As you learn to use it, the joy and time saving will come and you'll wonder why you ever stuck with that old technology for so long :)

3. You don't need a Cadillac. I mean my shower is another story, and the bathroom floor ... terrible. But I made a small stride, and am reaping the benefits of the improvement. Get your game plan set and make a few improvements to your site this year, with targets set for the following years. Ask for the basic model website and add a feature each year. It can be really overwhelming to add too many new technologies at once. Add them one at a time, when you are ready to fully commit to them.

4. Reach out to others. Find other operators who have a website you like and ask for a reference for their developer. Take the Tourism Technology mentoring session. It's the best $125 you'll every spend. We can help you find the focus and develop the game plan you need to succeed online.

5. Try it, you might like it. So where my Mom would have gutted the bathroom, I started with the faucet. And while there were no frantic trips to the hardware store during the installation, I know that like website development, some improvement jobs hit snags and you just have to have the determination to keep going!

6. BE OPEN TO CHANGE - it's so easy to stay the same. Change is scary. But once I had taken that first step, I found the courage to hammer up a new mirror! And I'm internet educating my self on installing a new floor. My spring project. If you're open to it, it's so much easier to learn new things.

Have a Happy Holiday

Take care,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 12 Days of Website Best Practices

Today's content created by ... ME. Seems like everyone is doing a variation on the seasonal carol the 12 days of Christmas so I've joined the bandwagon! Plunked on my elf thinking cap and came up with

The 12 Days of Website Best Practices

12 premium photo galleries
Have at least 12 photo galleries on your site. Include pictures of all seasons, and include pictures with PEOPLE in them - be sure and get photo releases or use your family.

11 minimum updates to home page content per year
Update your home page ONCE a month. Even in the off season. So 12 is the optimal number but I gave you one month off :)

10 pages of content and description
Content is king. Include history of the area, and other delightful content to maintain search engine ranking and improve website visitor experience

9 or more rotating images in your flash banner
If you must have a rotating flash banner or images, make sure you have enough so that they don't get stale. A potential customer will visit your site at least 10 times.

8 or more Frequently Asked Questions and answers
Make your FAQ page extensive. If you're referring clients to it, make sure it's useful.

7 or less menu tabs
Keep your main menu selections to 7 or less. Yes you can do this and still have 10 or more pages of content. They're called sub menus. The less clutter on your site the better.

6 testimonials, guest reviews
I cannot stress the importance of guest reviews, the ability for guests to make their own feedback posts to your site, the ability of guests to reconnect with other guests via your site. It's invaluable to you as a tourism operator

5 videos of the property
If you're going to do videos, have at least 5. Videos should be short, under 2 minutes each, and so you will not be able to showcase the whole establishment in 2 minutes. And some clients will be looking to see just a specific area.

4 featured staff members and bios
Feature your staff, yourself as owners, community characters... someone. Add some local personality into your website

3 latest news stories
If you're operating the kind of establishment where you post a lot of news items etc, have only the last three showing on the home page and the rest in an archive. Be wary, the last thing you need on a website is a stale "latest news" item. So this one is also cautionary, if you can't have at least 3 current news items on at all times, then you shouldn't have any news items at all.

2 languages whenever possible
Whenever possible have at least a portion of your website in a second language, and it doesn't have to be French. Dutch, Mic Mac, German, Polish...anything that shows off your values and culture OR caters to the market you are trying to attract. People will stay on a site longer and absorb more information from a site if it is written in their native language

1 go to source for information
Make sure your website is your clients goto source for information. It should answer almost every question so that when they call to book, they are a pre-qualified caller. When you can't answer the phone, refer the caller to the website and let the site lead them on the same journey as you would over the phone.

Your website is your 24 hour sales person !

I hope you've enjoyed today's tourism tech edition of the 12 days of websites.

Contact me for a one-on-one website critique, mentoring session, helpful tips, and MORE!
Beth @@

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Your cousin is a web guy?

Today's content borrowed from Digital Daisy

Or your neighbour knows someone who can "do you a web page"?

Or even luckier - your daughter's latest beau can set you up with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. How lucky can you get!

Or not. In this issue - why is this a bad idea?

If there is one particular story that breaks my heart, it is this one. Clients talk to me about a friend or relative who developed their website and then ended up being disappointed.

A second relates scenario that plays out when a web designer fails to deliver, drags his or her feet or is not available for further support.

In both cases the root cause of the problem may be similar.

Was the Scope Clear?
Ask yourself whether the scope of work was clearly defined. Did both parties know EXACTLY what was agreed to and at what cost? Scope creep (like colouring outside the lines) eats into profit - in terms of time and money, leaving two unhappy parties.

In the first scenario you have the added complication of personal relationships that get in the way of making tough business decisions or speaking your truth.

Quacks Don't Cure
You take your health problems to your doctor. Web development and Internet marketing are professional services too - don't take them to a quack - the pain is not going to go away. Pay fair value for fair service. It is investment you make in the health of your marketing.

Here are some suggested questions to ask a web developer before moving forward:

How long have you been in business?
What do you know about my industry? (Super important in Tourism !)
What's included in the design - how many pages, what features, etc.
How much will it cost?
Is hosting included?
How much is it per month - is there a discount if I pay annually?
Is setup included?
I don't have a domain name; can you recommend one and register it for me? How much will it be?
Will the domain be registered in my name? (Insist on this!) How is that billed? How can I register the domain name myself?
How do you like to communicate? By e-mail, phone or in person?
What can I expect in the design process?
How many designs and revisions are allowed for?
How long will all of this take?
What are your terms?
What happens if the scope of the project changes?
What happens if we cannot seem to work together?
At what point is the site considered "done"?
What happens when the work is completed?
Do you have a guarantee?
How will the site be maintained? Do you have a service contract? What is included?
Will there be a construction page posted while the site is being built?
What do you need from me?
How should the content be delivered (via email, disk, hard copy)?
Do you take credit cards?

Get your answers in writing
Ask for and check client references

Programmers are not always people friendly, don't let that deter you from hiring one, just keep it in the back of your mind while going through the interview process.