Websites

Website Launch: Brunswick Downtown Association

Website Launch: Brunswick Downtown Association Tour from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

What would you do if you had a website software you loved but it wasn’t mobile friendly and didn’t seem like it was going to become so anytime soon?

The Brunswick Downtown Association was faced with this very dilemma. They loved the Wild Apricot system for the reports it generated and the time it saved tracking members but the design was limiting and cumbersome.

The BDA wanted to appeal to an increasing population of mobile users… and this system they were paying $100/month to use was beginning to seem outdated. Deborah, Patti, and Alexis were ready to make a move to open source software and we were ready to help.

First off, we wanted to keep what they loved so we took Wordpress and made a Wild Apricot style dashboard in the backend. Sure it was some custom programming but it performs the needed functions so the switch was less painful. Alexis can now easily generate reports and track membership with numbers that match up from previous years’ data generated by Wild Apricot.

Patti wanted a way for members to submit events and all she’d have to do was click ‘approve’. We ‘hid’ the event submission under a login (members only!) and now, Patti gets an email when a member wants to post an event, saving her hours of data entry.

For the website visitors, we made a responsive layout using a modern color scheme; showcasing photos; and using buttons to get visitors to highly trafficked areas on the site. Visitors can find content by clicking on anything in the menu, slideshow items, buttons, hot links, or by typing what they are looking for in the ‘search’ box, which appears on every page.

For the members, we have a responsive business directory with customizable listings. Refreshing the page puts different members on top, making sure everyone has an equal shot of being seen. Instead of the business name clicking on a detailed listing, the BDA wanted the click to take website visitors directly to member websites (or in some cases, Facebook pages or other online properties). This makes sure members get the most bang for their buck, getting users to websites sooner rather than later. We also made easy to see/use buttons to get users to ‘Contact’ (to email the business owner) and ‘Website’ (in case they don’t know to click on the business name to get to the business website).

As a member upsell, we also have custom ad space on the sidebar of the desktop and tablet version of the business directory pages, allowing members who want more visibility to purchase advertising and further support the BDA.

Special thanks to Alice, Matt, and Ashley who made very significant contributions to this project, pleasure to have you on the team!

And congratulations to Brunswick Downtown Association who has been using their website the past two months and helped us work out the bugs post launch. You’ve got a great organization and we’re excited to come visit this summer and see some of the fun events you have planned.

 

 

Website Launch: Seaside Cottages

When Jay and Kathy asked us to redesign their site, we took a look at the site they had going. The Seaside Cottages homepage has great, relevant information, but the images were not a prominent feature. We came in to give the page a bit of a virtual facelift, and design it to work harder for Jay and Kathy.

"Before"

“Before”

One of our goals was to give users powerful visuals to correspond with the information on the website. Visitors usually want to get a lay of the land before spending a vacation anywhere, and the new Seaside Cottages website delivers. The majority of content is now images, which are large and high quality. Users can also now “pin” images they like, since we integrated Pinterest on the site. Due to the emphasis on imagery, Pinterest made the most sense as a social media choice. (Just because Jay and Kathy don’t use social media themselves, doesn’t mean their target demographic isn’t using social media to plan their next Maine vacation!)

Images that are easy to pin.

Images that are easy to pin.

We put a lot of time into generating the footer, which is a hard working tool. For instance, the Seaside Spring icon leads visitors to a page that features spring-related content. Maine is blessed with four distinct seasons, and we thought it would be nice to share images of this with potential customers. We also wrote all original content for these seasonal pages.         

 

The hard working footer.

The hard working footer.

 

Like any business, Seaside Cottages relies on customer satisfaction, so the footer also features a “visual guestbook.” This particular page is a source of pride for Kathy and Jay, as it uses notes people have left them on scraps of paper after a stay in one of the cottages. This is a creative way to incorporate testimonials into the website, and allows Seaside Cottages to showcase their reviews. It also acts as a ‘trust’ symbol- potential customers can view these notes and know that they are in good hands at Seaside Cottages.

seasidevisualguestbook

In terms of the more nitty-gritty technical changes, the new Seaside Cottages site has a responsive design, which is great in terms of accessibility and functionality. Responsive design means no matter what type of device people are using (phone, tablet, PC, etc.), the site automatically adjusts so that they can view and access all the features.

The new site also has custom forms for each rental. This form does the heavy lifting in terms of booking, and makes it easier for Kathy to follow up with people. A form makes the booking process easier for customers as well- rather than sending an open-ended e-mail, they can now simply fill in the information requested on the form and feel that they’ve taken action towards booking that vacation.

Best of luck to Jay and Kathy with their new site, and we hope that they get a record number of bookings in the upcoming season!

"After"!

“After”!

 

Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) Website Launch

We recently launched the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA for short) new website. This group preserves the basketmaking traditions of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. They not only ensure the tradition continues through teaching basketmaking, they also provide economic opportunities for artists helping them market their products, supporting work being sold in galleries, and holding several annual markets that gather the artists together.

Their old website was three basic HTML pages that were difficult to make changes to. In order to best support MIBA, the website was reconstructed with a few things in mind.

First, the custom directory of artists allows visitors to either search for a specific artist (by name, location, basket style, and more), or browse artists by scrolling through the list. Each artist has a headshot and a biography, including their basketmaking techniques and artistic preference.  To avoid prioritizing one artist over another, the list automatically randomizes when the artist directory loads, giving equal exposure to all.

In addition to the directory, there is a more personal-get to ‘know’ the artist/who you’re supporting experience. This is done several ways including large format photos on information pages and a link to artist videos in the sidebar, where users can browse a collection of artist videos curated by the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine.

Artist_Directory

Like any non-profit organization, MIBA depends on donations from outside sources, so we added a feature that allows the site to accept donations via credit card. The donation page is a simple, straightforward form. In general, this makes the process easier for the donor (and hopefully, leads to more donations!). 

Navigating the MIBA site has become simple with the new layout. There are multiple ways to reach the various content on the site. For instance, the Markets page can be reached through the menu, the search bar, and in the featured section. Why is this important? By giving people multiple ways to get to MIBA’s most important information, people will easily find the information they’re looking for. When people have to jump through hoops to get the information they want from a site, they’ll most likely get frustrated and leave.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.40.45 AM

 

Another trick that helps direct navigation is the three buttons on the sidebar of the website. These buttons have a couple benefits. First, since there are only three buttons to choose from, visitors aren’t overwhelmed with too many choices. Second, the images are small enough not to distract from the main page, but large enough for attention. These buttons, including ‘Where to Buy Baskets’ and ‘Donate’ direct website visitors to these important resources in a visual way.

And lastly, the entire site is designed responsively, meaning it looks great on any device, and loads in a little over 2 seconds. Through Google Analytics, we see over 140 people visited the new site the first day and we got this email from Theresa Secord, the executive director of the organization, the day after launch:

We are getting great reviews on our website and the announcement of the launch went viral on our FaceBook page…was viewed 5,802 times, shared 77 times!! and we gained nearly 100 new likes, putting us well over 1,000 friends for the MIBA FB page, from all over the world.

We congratulate Theresa, Jennifer, and all the MIBA board and artists on their new site!

Tech Thursday: Why is My Website So Slow?

Wonder why your website is loading slower than Nicole runs? (That’s slow by the way.) Here are a few ideas. Bonus is Kassie has come out from behind the camera for this video!

Remember, don’t settle for anything longer than 3 seconds. If it’s taking longer than that, you may want to check out what’s going on behind the scenes.

Tech Thursday: How Much Should I Pay for Web Hosting?

Have you ever wondered what you are paying for with a web host? It can be a confusing area to navigate, especially if you have nothing to compare it to. Here are some things you should keep in mind!

(P.S. This is Kassie’s first video editing job. Give her some props because, while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty darn good for a first project!)

Tech Thursday: What’s Wrong with My Website?

Website not loading and getting you down? Let’s rule out some ‘easy’ things and help your web person get to the solution faster!

This video is all about troubleshooting (and as a bonus, you don’t have to be super “tech-y” to do this!)

Have a question for a Tech Thursday? Go to www.breakingeveninc.com/contact or leave a comment on this video!

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