Bar Harbor

Website Launch: Mount Desert Island Historical Society

The MDI Historical Society has been an important part of our island for decades. Their website has a lot of interesting archival information, everything from listings of who is buried in different cemeteries to historical documents about Acadia National Park’s formation.

When you have this much information collected in one place, getting it all organized in a way that’s also user friendly can be a daunting task.

With some information archived in Past Perfect (a database for historical catalogs), some on external websites, and some on the MDI History website itself, we took on the task of getting people to the information they need while also giving them a pleasing design that matches their branding.

Branding That Is Clear

When you go to the homepage of the new site, one of the first things you see is their branding (with the Selectman’s Building and the Somesville Bridge outlined in a way that’s a bit more engaging). It also helps with user-friendliness in terms of orienting people to the site upon arrival.

The older version displayed a slideshow of the “Acadia Then and Now” photo series from the Acadia National Park Centennial celebration (photo composites were done by Anthony Palumbo, with support from Bar Harbor Historical Society & MDI Historical Society). This is a really cool photo series, and you can read more about the project here. It’s a bit more difficult to find what your options are as far as getting information.

A Research Page To Get Visitors Started

Speaking of finding things, another thing the new website offers is a “Research” page that serves as the focal point for the different types of offerings on the website. Before, it was not so clear to the average person where they should go to find Census Records or peruse the Champlain Society Collection. The Research Page is the ultimate navigation point- no matter what you’re looking for, this page is the compass to point you in the right direction.

The page itself describes what content you’ll find in Collections, Catalog, and Historical Resources (which is helpful if you’re not necessarily familiar with how historical records are archived). The menu on the right side of the page further helps with navigation and gives a clearer understanding of where to go for specific information (there’s also a “Search” bar at the very top of the page if someone gets truly stumped).

Accepting Donations, Selling Publications, And Otherwise Monetizing Unique Offerings

Another thing that’s available on the new website is the ability to accept credit cards for various things like memberships (which are given with anyone giving a donation of $20.00 or more annually), dual memberships with Seal Cove Auto Museum, event tickets, and purchasing publications. As you might imagine, a lot of these publications are niche and not necessarily wide-spread, which can make them difficult to find but having them available to purchase right on the site means more exposure and a greater chance of selling.

Utilizing Volunteers With On Demand Video Training

Although people looking at the site “from the outside” can’t see this, the new site is set up to make it easier to have website volunteers get set up. Some projects, like writing unique page titles and descriptions for each page on the site to improve SEO, are something that an intern can tackle. There’s a list of future projects, along with training videos, for reference, so it’s a lot easier for people to volunteer. We made MDI Historical Society a video collection for easy volunteer training.

Fun, Accessible Information For All With Internet Access

Other cool things to check out on this site include the Genealogy Project, which is an effort to share the genealogy of families on Mount Desert Island. Check out the list of last names, you never know if a good chunk of your family history is on there!

Another thing that I didn’t know about before delving into the MDI Historical Society’s site is that there’s actually a documented list of all the “named” cottages on MDI. Not only do you see the names and when they were purchased, but anytime the ownership changed hands (it’s a neat history lesson, from back in the days when people gave their home a name). Here’s an example of one I found particularly interesting:

If you have something you want to add to any of the archives, each page has information on “How to Contribute” (meaning you don’t have to remember the page you saw that thing on).

Check out the new website here, and if you’re so inclined, signing up for a membership is easy to do from the comfort of your home!

Congratulations to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society on their new site and all the great work they are doing to preserve the history of a very special place. 

Marketing Super Niche Services With Carla Tanguay

What if your customers were both individuals and companies?
What if your service was something not a lot of people understood, let alone realized they needed?
What if you were one of seven people in your whole state who did what you did-so basically any and all local awareness about your profession was up to you?

We talked to Carla Tanguay of Modulations Therapies, a music therapist who makes her home in Bar Harbor, about her industry, how she established credibility, and why, despite the fact she’s been only doing this for a couple years on her own, Nicole kept hearing her name everywhere.

She also dispels some music therapy myths (ex: it is prohibitively expensive, it is only for sick or old people, etc.)

To learn more about Carla and her work:
https://www.modulationstherapies.com
https://www.modulationstherapies.com/blog
www.facebook.com/modulationstherapies
www.twitter.com/ModulationsMT

Marketing Monday: The 1932 Criterion Theatre

Bar Harbor is a town with a lot of history. The 1932 Criterion Theatre lives in a building with a particularly rich history, which it manages to preserve while also putting on programming for modern times.

Admittedly, I have a special place in my heart reserved for The Criterion after they hosted one of my all-time favorites, Brett Dennen, this past August (it was a really big deal in terms of nostalgia and one of the only things that would have lured me out of the house in the first week after giving birth), but this post goes beyond my own reasons for loving the Criterion.

Community Involvement. It’s always nice to see businesses and nonprofits in the community banding together to create something that we can all enjoy. This winter alone, The Criterion has joined forces with other local businesses to put on various events, such as a Star Wars Costume Parade with Atlantic Brewing during the opening week of The Last Jedi. They’ve also created a Christmas movie series, where local businesses can sponsor a Christmas movie of their choice. And then there’s the upcoming Spectacular New Year’s Eve Carnival with The Barn Arts Collective, an event for the whole family from 2-4 p.m.

Mix of Live Events and Movies. In addition to blending past and present, the Criterion also blends live events with film (not at the same time, of course). These events are separated out on their website. Live events include concerts by local favorites and well-known celebs (Clint Black and David Crosby, for instance), performances (like the Acadia Community Theater’s Christmas in Oz earlier this month), and the occasional visit from the ballet. A list of upcoming movies is also available both on the website and Facebook. It never hurts to have this information in more than one place!

All the information you need, in an easy-to-find layout.

Marketing with a Smile. When it comes to marketing, finding a blend of informative and humorous can be a delicate balance. They aren’t afraid to show their goofy side (see below) which makes for interesting content. After all, you might as well have a little fun with your marketing!

Online Purchasing. This past summer, I went to see two concerts at the Criterion with my mom. For both of them, we were able to buy our tickets in advance online, which made the process super easy. If you want to secure seats ahead of time, make a gift of tickets to a show (or their ticket booklet), or become a member, you can do it all from the convenience of your home (which is especially appealing during the winter months).

A clever thing in their checkout process also allows you to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar to make a donation or give a donation as a separate line item as you check out.

In terms of event marketing online and offline, The Criterion is a nonprofit to take notes from.

 

Alternative Workplaces for the Freelancer/Entrepreneur

Working from home is tougher than one might realize. For one thing, there’s a bevy of distractions and temptations (I’m looking at you, Netflix) that makes it difficult to be productive. For those of us who need a work environment geared toward discipline and efficiency, working out of the home lacks structure that is critical to productivity.

I learned this the hard way when I worked for two years without an office, when I was writing for hyperlocal websites. I had to get creative about where I worked, especially in light of having a toddler in the house (try explaining the concept of “telecommuting” to a 3-year-old — can’t be done).

With that in mind, here’s a list of alternative to working from home for freelancers/entrepreneurs:

Coworking space

The coworking concept is a shared space where one can rent a desk, usually by the day, the week or the month. Coworking, it turns out, is more than a trend. It’s a movement that is actually growing.

The drawback is that it’s not free — there’s the cost of rent. The pluses, however, to having an actual, professional workspace without the cost of leasing a full-blown office are innumerable.

If you’re in Mount Desert Island area, I actually recommend checking out BEC’s sister company, Anchorspace. Make a reservation, rent a desk for a day or longer. If you need to meet with clients, there’s a conference room. Arguably most important: There are a number of good places to eat nearby in downtown Bar Harbor (Hello, Jalapenos).

Public libraries

Libraries are a wonderful community resource. Most offer free internet and a quiet environment.

The disadvantages are limited hours and a lack of privacy. Unless your library has a cafe, it’s difficult to hold conversations with clients or interview subjects, and even then, the environment may not be ideal. Libraries often have limited bandwidth or place a limit on the amount of time you are allowed online.

I’m actually writing the first draft of this post at a public library now, where, I just overheard someone explaining how they got fired from KFC for hiding dirty cookware under the kitchen sink. That’s a little distracting.



Cafes/Restaurants

McDonald’s, Starbucks Panera and other quick-serve joints usually have free wifi and will do in a pinch, that is if you can avoid spilling ketchup on your laptop. I’ve worked at coffee shops, but those get noisy real quick, especially when the blender is activated to whip up someone’s frozen soy macchiato latte whatever.

Seating is often at a premium, especially during lunch. Your wifi access will often be limited, especially during peak hours. And, because you’re not a jerk, you’ll have to buy something to justify using their wifi.

Your car

Probably the least comfortable office I ever worked at was in the passenger seat of my old Mustang. (Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful car that I miss dearly, but I promised myself that once I hit 40 I wouldn’t be one of “those guys” with a gut tooling around in a young man’s car.) I invested in a hotspot for my phone and wrote wherever I had signal. The advantage is that there’s privacy for making phone calls and you are completely mobile. The disadvantages are numerous. Cars, when they’re not running, get cold or hot pretty quick. Besides, explaining to a client that you live out of your car for 8 cramped hours a day makes you sound like Gil Gunderson.

Recommendation: Coworking Space

Having experienced all the above, I say make the investment and rent a desk. The payback is in more productivity. Do more, make more.

Coworking spaces are also more secure than the alternatives. You can go to the bathroom without having to pack up your laptop and mouse and charger, and your seat will still be there when you get back. You have a dedicated spot where you can work for eight hours. In other words, you’ll look like a professional.



Marketing Monday: MDI Ice Cream

It’s that time of year again- ice cream season! We’re lucky enough to be right down the road from one of the best ice cream joints in town, MDI Ice Cream. They have two locations in Bar Harbor and one in Portland, and all are now open for the summer. Here are some reasons why MDI is worth checking out this summer, wherever you are in the world:

They Care. There’s a lot of work that goes into each batch of ice cream here. A couple years ago, we had the opportunity of helping load up the trucks with gallons of ice cream from Bar Harbor to Portland, and got a taste of the labor intensive end of the ice cream industry. And that was just scratching the surface of what goes on behind the scenes. First, their ice cream contains at least 16% butterfat (most ice creams start around 14%), based on owner Linda Parker’s assessment that it “is the precisely right amount of butterfat.” Based on what we’ve seen and tasted, Linda knows her stuff! They also make their own flavors, rather than relying on commercial mixes, which a) makes the ice cream taste WAY better, and b) takes WAY more time to make. Even after years of business, they’ve held on to their belief in quality over quantity (be it of ice cream or extra time).

The Location. Both locations in Bar Harbor are in easily accessible places along the street, perfect for foot traffic. Besides this, both locations offer a couple different seating options for the people who want to sit down and enjoy their ice cream in the shade/under cover or those who prefer outside seating (pictured below is the infamous blue bench outside the Firefly Lane location). My personal favorite is heading to the Village Green- there’s nothing better than ice cream and people watching on a summer afternoon.

The blue bench outside Firefly Lane

The blue bench outside Firefly Lane is prime seating.

Social Media. MDI Ice Cream is pretty great at keeping their Facebook and Instagram (@mdiicream) presences up-to-date with openings and new flavors. They also have some fun with their street signs (which you can see below). Following their social media helps you keep tabs on all their locations, and usually includes a scoop of humor as well!

Fearless Flavor. Besides the classic standbys (looking at you, Sea Salt Caramel), there’s always room for innovation at MDI Ice Cream which is a great business model in general and even better when it comes to ice cream.  As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing artificial about their flavors or coloring. Some of their flavors include Beet Ginger Sorbet, The Dude, Thai Chili Coconut, Butterbeer, Bay of Figs, and many more. Plus, you can probably tell from the sign, but innovation is included as part of the business. New flavors can be found on deck (after rigorous rounds of testing, of course) every year, and Cookie Dough is new for this season.



Another thing- you won’t get ice cream drowned in sprinkles or other sugary, candy toppings. This is ice cream in it’s best, raw, natural state- I’m hamming it up a bit here, but honestly, it’s another way MDI Ice Cream stands by their product and stands out from the crowd.

flava

Flavor list in Portland

When it comes to a local business with great marketing and a quality product, the proof is in…the ice cream. Thanks for feeding our summer appetites, MDI Ice Cream!

P.S. if you ever need opinions via taste testing, we have your back 🙂

New Site Launch: Abbe Museum

abbehomepageThe Abbe Museum contacted us about a year after their new website had been designed. They realized their website also needed a mobile counterpart in an increasingly online and on the go culture.

They were thrilled of the work of their web designer but the firm didn’t do mobile work, so we stepped in to help.

Since the Abbe Museum had a style guide we could work from, the work went more smoothly then it would have otherwise.

A style guide is document showing how logos, fonts, colors, and other design elements should be treated in all communications. If you don’t have one, you should consider making one for your business or organization because it means anyone producing communications for your organization will create something that is consistent and branded well- anything from a company event flyer to your website redesign two years from now. (I have seen these guides be anywhere from 4 to 25 pages- get as detailed about what you want but it is worth having a conversation about with your team!)

A style guide saved a lot of back and forth and meant we only had to do two design drafts to get the look and feel of the mobile site right.

Because the Abbe Museum’s website is coded in HTML, that meant we had to chose which pages would be mobile friendly since they would have to be individually coded. Based on the amount of web traffic they got and the importance of the information, the following pages were coded for mobile friendliness:

  • Home page (obviously)
  • Visitor information
  • Calendar
  • Current and Future Exhibits
  • About
  • Donate (just linking to their Paypal donate page)

In case users wanted to see one of the other 80ish pages on the site, we also have a clear link on the bottom of each of these pages to the full (not mobile friendly) website.

Besides creating and linking to the most important pages on the mobile site, we also made sure the most important marketing messages were front and center. The Abbe Museum’s marketing is driven by a strong email list as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Making anything we wanted users to click look like buttons was one way to achieve a simple streamlined page while creating some visual interest with colors.

If you want to check out this site, go to www.abbemuseum.org on your mobile phone or you can go to www.abbemuseum.org/mobile on any device. (When you access the Abbe Museum’s site from a device, it’ll automatically redirect you to the mobile link.)

Since the mobile site files are on the server (in a different folder), the Abbe Museum can update the information in them like they are updating their regular website.

We thank Cinnamon and Julia for being super easy to work with and hope the mobile site brings even more visitors to downtown Bar Harbor to the museum.

 

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