I am thrilled to announce the recent release of our latest project, a birding tour website for High Lonesome BirdTours.
The challenge was to transition the owner’s website from a poorly organized, visually ineffective website built on an open source framework called CMS Made Simple to an organized, visually appealing site with high search engine value. Most of all, the owner wanted his customers to easily find his site when searching for birding tours on Google, and easily navigate to make a purchase. Our previous work on a different birding tour site had impressed our client enough to make an inquiry. Our “professionalism” during the proposal process impressed sealed the deal, even though our price was “a bit higher” than other quotes.
We implemented a customized WordPress solution utilizing custom post types to design each custom tour detail page. A great deal of content strategy went into the information layout. We did our best to interpret a typical customer’s mindset as he/she lands on the home page and tries to find an ideal destination to travel to. We took into account that a motivated customer may wish to find a specific tour by region (e.g. “I’m seeking a tour to Alaska!”) or find a tour during a specific time span (“I need a birding tour in April of next year!”). But we also tried to appeal to the casual dreamer who stumbles upon the site and surfs from region to region until his/her interest is sparked (note to self: visuals matter a lot to dreamers).
We took into account that some users are visual learners while others ignore images to read only text. Because I’ve done quite a bit of birding travel myself, I realize how information hungry birders are. So it was just as important to provide quick overviews as it was to provide easy access to detailed itineraries and trip planning information.
Each tour page provides an overview, details, full itinerary, downloadable itinerary, info on accommodations, top birds and mammals lists, habitats covered, as well as trip reports and travel planning suggestions (recommended readings, clothing and gear, and other attractions). Luckily, most of this information was available in some form or another on the former website, though it took considerable effort to move it over into its new format.
Another notable addition is a shopping cart that keeps track of the number of spaces left on each tour – to avoid booking too many people on these small-group tours. Custom forms were built to court the user through the booking process, culminating in a Make Payment page that lets the user make a deposit either via check or online via Paypal.
We are thrilled with the results but even more so, the process of working with our client, who allowed us to “get into his business” and solve problems unique to his company and the tour shopping process.
Nothing interests us more than solving problems – and we never lose sight of the fact that every problem we solve must have positive implications for the client’s business (or it’s not worth solving) and have respect for his work flow.
Better yet, our client seems happy, too:
“I asked Laura Kammermeier and her group, My Digital Nature, to help me build a new website after mine became outdated. We started working together in August and, this month, we were able to launch the new site. I’m extremely happy with the results. The site is professional and user-friendly, exactly what I wanted. Laura was highly responsive and helpful. She was always available to answer questions and work through problems. I can highly recommend Laura and her group, without reservations.” — Forrest Davis, owner, High Lonesome BirdTours.
BUT DID THE SITE IMPROVE BUSINESS? Time will tell but here’s a good indicator: within one week the site crawled up in the Google search engine results from oblivion (not within the first 20 pages of search results) to page 2, #7. Impressive what a SEO-friendly platform, sound content strategy, and smart implementation will do.
P.S. Special and abiding thanks to those that helped make this project possible: Bill Klingensmith (mydarndest.com) for custom design and coding; Sean Koch for content entry; Stina Kennedy for logo and design work.