Navigating a New Web Site
Since we are playing a waiting game with the Zoning Process, Brett and I are trying to get things done that we can do now. Besides finding vendors that we want to work with, we also need to start thinking about a website for the Bed and Breakfast.
I don’t know about you, but this is all new to me. I thought I was doing really well just managing a blog! So I knew that I was going to need to find someone that I could work with and that would have the patience to explain that different parts to me. I also wanted to find someone that I could trust. Someone that could see our vision for this Historic Plantation and would be able to help me convey it our visitors.
Thankfully I didn’t have to go far. We have someone that we have known for years. His name is Adam. We have known him since he was just a teenager. So when I went to him and asked for help, he was onboard with us.
Adam works with a company called “Bull & Company MediaWorks”.
From Bull & Company Media Works:
“The Internet has forever changed the world of media. Recognizing this fact, Bull & Company MediaWorks is positioned to maximize your company’s potential with our expertise in Internet marketing. We true full-service Internet marketing under one roof, designing and executing Internet marketing plans that leverage all forms of media.”
Adam started his career in the flooring business as a Project Manager / Sales Associate / “Do whatever needs to be done” Person. He gained a lot of experience mostly as a Project Manager. Knowing nothing about web design, he started working for a company called Bullaka Productions (a full service web marketing company) as a part time project manager. Through the years, he gained the knowledge on how to build websites (imagine that) using the most up to date technologies. He has worked for companies such as Bull and Crowley MediaWorks, Regent University and Dominion Enterprises doing Web Design and Development. One of the things he really loves about this field is it combines his love for technology and his heart to serve others. Learning how he can serve others is a true joy! On a more personal side of things, Adam’s family is one of the most important things to him. For Adam, there’s nothing better than to be a father and a husband! For us, family is very important and having it be a big part of his life speaks volumes to us.
To contact Adam please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call him at 757-621-9194.
Please let him know that Michelle and Brett sent you!
So we have a web designer, now we need to put together the information they will need to build our website. Have you ever thought about all the information you need to put together a website? It’s almost mind blowing! So as I am sure you have figured out from my past postings, the first thing I did was research.
I started by looking at lots and lots and lots and lots of website. I didn’t just look at website that had to do with bed and breakfasts, though they were the most that I looked at. I wanted to get a good idea of what I liked and what I thought would work well for us. So I wrote down the web addresses of those that I want Adam to look at and what about them I liked.
Then I had to figure out how someone would navigate our website and what information I want our visitor to see. Talk about endless possibilities! I have seen all kinds of tabs and links in other websites. One thing I don’t want is for it to be too much information. I have seen websites that try to give you too many choices and you end up lost. I don’t want that.
The last thing we talked about is pictures. Adam tells me that it is generally this that holds up a website from being launched. He has suggested that we get someone professional to take them. While I have tons of pictures of the plantation and Mansion, they aren’t what I would want on the website. So now we have to find a professional photographer. Any Suggestions?
One of the things I have been thinking about doing to help me “see” our website is to make a mockup of the website using sheets of paper. This way I can see and adjust that I want. I am a simple person sometimes and need to use simple processes.
Now here is your chance to help us!
Tell me what you like or don’t like about websites for bed and breakfasts.
What do you feel is most important to you when you look at the website?
What could you do without?
Your opinion and advice will help us build an awesome website
that will serve this Historic Plantation for years to come!
See more pictures of this Historic Plantation
on our Facebook Page!
I can highly recommend Eric Kelley. He is based out of Charlottesville and is a good friend. Check out his website here:
Thank you! I will check it out!
I can’t advise because I see nothing wrong with anything about your site. I sure wish I could find a reasonable web designer. I have wanted someone to build me a simple web site for over two years so I can sell my antiques and collectibles
You should call Adam! He is really good and not that expensive! If you want the number, I can give it to you!
I am so far away, would that matter? If not, please let me have his phone number
Distance isn’t anything when it comes to building a site. I put his contact info on the posting so you can find it there. 😉
thank you so much!!!!!
The main thing I do not like about some sites is music! It’s annoying and pops up at the worst times, like when you’re surfing at work 🙂 Simple is good, main info and a few photos on home page with links to rooms, rates and local attractions, etc.. For the room detail pages, I like slide shows with various views of rooms and amenities. Don’t need a lot of photos but I like to see at least 2 angles, the bathroom and if there is a window, the view out of it. Hope this helps! Sounds like you’ve got someone good working on it.
I agree about the music. It is annoying!
No worries I hate music on websites too!
I am so with you about the music! I had not planned any for our website so don’t worry on that point. Thank you for the suggestions! They will be really helpful!
Great news, I hope the new site goes together smoothly for you. Sorry, I can’t offer any help in that regard.
Thank you John! Your support is enough! 😉
Have you check out http://www.pioneerwoman.com ? This is her personal blog, she home schools her kids, lives on a ranch, also has a Food Network television show. The woman is like you – fingers in lots of pots. She has contributing bloggers so she is not tied every minute to the website. You might want to have a page showcasing your B&B, another page with Events you can host, another page for your historical musings. Your vendors can be listed on the sidebar as Ree Drummond has done. Her website it based on a WordPress set up so you might not have to learn a whole new thing to make you crazy.
How totally exciting, and scary, for you. I hope you enjoy working with your friend, Adam, and he does a fantastic job for you. Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂
Hugs to you – Leslie
Thank you Leslie! I have seen her on the Food Network but have never seen her blog or website. I will check it out!
A couple of things hit me right off the bat. First, make sure you have a map page that can be printed out showing your exact location and all major roads leading to it. Not everyone is into GPS. Color Photographs are very important particularly of your guest rooms, your Dining Room, Kitchen and pictures and bios of the major players at your Inn. It’s nice to see who’s running the show. I’d also make it a point to have sample menus available online and pictures of your entrees etc,, . A page detailing the history of your facility would be a nice touch and in the case of your Inn, a major attraction I would think. Another page might detail nearby historical sites, restaurants, and places of interest. I recently read a piece in the NY Times about a writer who stayed at an Inn in the Northern Neck and his description of it and a nearby hole in the wall eatery made me want to book a room on the spot. Point being, you never know exactly what will push someone’s button to make a reservation. Be sure to ask guests for testimonials and permission to post them on your site. Whether you publish them or not, feedback – favorable or critical – will prove to be invaluable in fine tuning your operation. Final suggestion, do a dry run or two. Invite friends for an overnight stay on the house to shake down your operation. You never get a second chance at a first impression. Good luck. If your web site is anywhere near the quality of your blog, The “No Vacancy” sign will be lit up quite a bit.
Thank you so much John. You have given us a great deal of ideas and we really appreciate you input!
I have a website now that I am not happy with. My contract expires in April and I have been activity searching for something different. One thing that is on my list is load-ability. So many people use their phones now days for their Internet access. Not only on the go but many use them as their only Internet source. When a page is slow to load people get frustrated and move on.
You should get in touch with Adam! They are really good! He has helped me before and I know our website is going to be wonderful once he finishes with it! He has also offered suggestions that I would have never thought of! I am going to update this post with his contact information for everyone! Thank you!
Was that one of the things he talked about? The trend these days if so many people using their phones to navigate the web?
Yes, he has told us a lot about making our site easy to use on mobile devices. You should call him!
When I am ready I just might!
Having booked a ton of places for our trips, a few features about websites I love: ability to book online without having to make phone calls; a calendar to view availability; easy access to pricing & views of the various rooms; quality images of the rooms and the B&B; LOVE customer testimonials; maps & directions; things to do near the B&B. If there is anything special about the bedding/beds, such as mattress quality, I enjoy knowing that. If I think of more, I’ll come back and share again. Exciting to watch your progress!!
Thank you so much for your suggestions! They are going to really help us make this a wonderful site!
First, the website needs to convey personality. Is this a rustic cabin in the woods or a luxurious fantasy come true? And it needs tell who they are, not who they’re trying to be. Nothing is more disappointing than arriving at a rustic cabin, when you’re all geared up for luxury. Pictures are great, especially of the actual bedrooms, but the pictures should be representative of what’s there. This summer I was at a B&B who had posted 10 year old pictures and a LOT had changed. That being said, some hosts get carried away and there are so many pictures that you could just stay home and still know exactly where everything is. Discovery is part of the fun after you arrive. One thing that should not be a mystery is the price. If I can’t establish price pretty quickly from the website, I will assume it’s too expensive and move on. I also want to know availability immediately – not wait for a call back or an email.
Thank you Jane. You have made some really good points! They will be very helpful!
My husband and I have stayed in numerous B&B’s and what I remember is the first picture of the outside…this draws me in. Then organization shows, if you care about it then I might care about it to. Authenticity speaks a lot and food. The food has got to be good! We thought we were in heaven at a place in New Hamphshire with their cooking! Good Luck. I’m doing a website too so I’ll be checking you out. Happy New Year!
Happy New Year and thank you for your suggestions! They are really helpful!
I like your web page, but you could probably write shorter posts and that would give you time to cook scruptious meals. Happy New Year. Dianne
Thank you Dianne. I will try and remember to keep the post shorter. Sometimes it is just really hard when you have some much to say. 🙂 But our blog won’t be our website for the plantation. It is just a place to talk about what we are doing and the history. There will be another site for reservations and all.
Having read all the various comments and reflecting on my personal experience with hotel websites and bookings, I think it comes down to this: (1) The first page should let folks know (in words and pictures) what you’re offering and what’s special about it; (2) there ought to be a simple online booking process with lots of good photos & info to show exactly what’s being booked; (3) detailed information on your dining room, it’s menu (and prices), and any special offerings/options (e.g. Romantic champagne breakfast in bed); and (4) info on special events, tours, packages, and local attractions.
I wish you all the very best and can’t wait to see your dream become reality in 2013!
Thank you so much! This information is going to be really helpful! We wish you and your family a wonderful New Years and hope that 2013 will be just as good for you as we know it will be for us!
Main thing is easy navigability! k.
Thank you! I think that is one of the top things on our list!
I am excited to see what you come up with. I, too, am websiting this year. I am going to publish a novel, and my techy son has promised me a simple website to go with it. It does take a lot of planning doesn’t it? So glad to see you all continuing to move forward!
Thank you! I know you are so excited about your novel and website too! I can’t wait to see yours! Yes it takes a lot of planning.
I was about to make an offer for free web design services but then I read the bit on you having found one already. I need work to put in my portfolio. Let me know if any needs arise and I’ll gladly throw some freebies your way. Again, just need samples for the portfolio. Best of luck with the Bed & Breakfast. The house looks like a great place for a writer to stay. 🙂
Thank you! If you have some suggestions on things you might be able to help us with, let me know. Websites are all new to us so I wouldn’t know where to start without someone. By the way, we are going to be hosting writers retreats at the plantation someday soon. Maybe you could come and enjoy yourself!
Now that, is quite tempting. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for that upcoming event. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂
I’m not a professional photographer but would love to take photographs of your B&B. ncrossphotography.wordpress.com
Thank you! Are you far from the plantation?
The plantation is in the Port Royal/Fort AP Hill area? If so I am not all that far away. I live in Annapolis MD (2 hours or so away) but I work near LaPlata, which is less than an hour from Port Royal.
Wonderful! Yes we are just across the river from Port Royal. If you go down to Port Royal and visit the Riverhaven restaurant, you can see Belle Grove from their back window. The plantation isn’t open to the public yet so if you would like to see it, we would have to meet you there. We are currently in Chesapeake, Virginia so it would have to be a Saturday or Sunday. When is good for you?
I wouldn’t want you to drive all the way up there just to meet us. Let me know when you guys are going to be there on a weekend and I’ll drive down. January is mostly filled on the weekends for us, as is the first weekend of February. After that, we’re wide open. Let us know.
We should be up there most weekends in February as we are going to be getting things ready to open. Have your “Liked” our Facebook page? We put updates on when we are going to be there on that page.
Yes, just “liked” the page yesterday afternoon. Looking forward to the updates.
Wonderful! I will let you know as soon as I can.
I don’t like lots of huge pictures, one large photo of a highlight is wonderful then small thumbnails for other features is best. Some of us are still on dial-up so the big photos take forever or time out to an icon. I appreciate some background on the locale and local festivals/activities. A map or link to a map of the area is helpful if the b & b is in a non-metro area that might be unfamiliar to most visitors.
Thank you for your suggestions! They are going to really help us make this website great!
I like your page. The pictures are beautiful. They make me want to visit you, now! I nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award because I remember what it was like when my mom died. Feel free to click here and read more about it. http://mydailyminefield.com/2012/12/29/very-inspiring-blogger/
Thank you! We hope you will come see us once we open! Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers! It really means a lot to us!
Personally for me, when I look for a place to stay I like pictures of the rooms and the property it is on. Most sites as you know have links to places to visit and dine and suggestions on what to do. But that said, you have done a remarkable job so far, so however you design your page I am sure will it speak of the elegance and beauty of the plantation and all that you have to offer. This has been a neat experience for me to watch your progress. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. And I want to tell you my husband really liked the Harper’s Weekly magazine (silent auction) and the idea that the proceeds helped preserve history. Blessings – Patty
Thank you for your suggestions! They are going to really help us make this website great! I am so glad he liked the magazine. This drawings in it were so good! We wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and many blessings!
New Year’s Resolutions and Congratulations for 2013 Projects at the Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast!
The most important thing I can think of for any website is make sure it loads fast. If it takes too long to load people get tired of waiting and go away before they even see it. You can accomplish this with an attractive, yet simple quick loading home page that people can click onto other specific things from.
Thank you so much for your suggestion. It is really going to help us make this website really great!
I prefer lack of clutter on a website. Too many options and I’m lost. Then along that line of thought, then I do have options (e.g. photo gallery, room specifications, rates, calendar, contact information, map…), I want to easily get back to the main website. Once I make the decision to put in a reservation, I want to easily see which button to click on. Data for the extra curious, such as your blog, can be linked. There you go.
Thank you Oscar! Your suggestions will be a big help!
A word about photos. When I’m looking for a place to stay I want to know what it looks like. If I’ve never been there I would like to see photos of the common areas as well as the rooms. I can’t speak for everyone but is something I do whether I’m staying at a well known chain of hotels or a bed and breakfast. I hope this helps.
Thank you Doug, it does help a lot. Your suggestions will help us make it a great website!
Fascinating. I carried myself here from your “like” on a poem I had posted up. I am interested to find this here because I worked on a part of your house with the bricking and chimney facade with Barry Kiracofe in the early summer of 2010. Your friend Adam is right and your historic setting deserves a good photographer! Did you know that Barry is also an architectural photographer? So am I, specialties including interior and furniture, but I am in Sweden. I have been to a few very nice bed and breakfasts in the States and one in particular that gave a lasting impression in terms of their presentation was the Mountain Magnolia Inn at Hot Springs, NC. I stayed in their cliffside suite with a view of the river. Here is their link. http://www.mountainmagnoliainn.com/index.html Also, I was so impressed by their location that I snapped a few impromptu photos of the place when I first arrived. Here is a link to those pictures. Best of luck! http://edoak.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/photos-of-mountain-magnolia-inn-in-hot-springs-nc/
Oh, this is not the same building I was helping to restore, though it is similar and also a childhood home of President Madison! It was located closer to Charlottesville, VA. Sorry for my mistake! Anyhow, here is a link to Barry Kiracofe’s website – his photography is some of the best I know in his field. http://interamericaninstitute.org/index.html However his website is a bit difficult to navigate so allow me to direct you to his work on Arabic architecture which I find especially fascinating. http://interamericaninstitute.org/new_page_10.htm
Oh ok thank you.
Thank you so much! I will take a look at them. Wow what a small world! So what did you do to the bricking and chimney at Belle Grove? I would love to know if you have any pictures of the plantation during your time there!
Michelle, I’m delighted that you will be working with Adam and Bull & Company! When I first saw that you were looking for web design help, I started to write immediately to strongly suggest them!
Thank you Glenda. We have been talking to Adam since almost the beginning. So he has been on stand by for us for quite awhile. By the way, we need to get together so I can give you your items! I haven’t been going to church in December because it is too hard to face with mom’s death being so fresh.
For a Bed and Breakfast, I would want to see the rooms, with the prices, and what my experience would be like. Maybe a little bit of history and character on the room. Basic stuff like the price of breakfast, what kind of food.
From a more marketing perspective. People like to go to a place that’s popular, or that other people are going to where the service and experience are “guaranteed” or established. They want to feel like it’s a good value for the price, either because it’s a really desirable place, or because they’re getting a good value.
What’s nearby? Day trips? What do other people do? Stuff for the kids? Is it easy?
Great photos and keep going!
Thank you so much for all your suggestions! It will really help us create a wonderful website!
Hi Michelle it’s been awhile and I’m so glad you’re stopping in at my place from time to time. Good to see the wheels still rolling here! When I visit a web site,first I want to see what I’m looking for,and you’re right to much will get you lost and moving on to the next sight. So keep it simple but beautiful,here is a lady Sarah and she does beautiful work http://www.godsnotfinishedwithusyet.com/ you will of course know which to use,following that gut is right,because that is the spirit.
Love you 😀
Thank you Pat! We have miss seeing you “around”. Your thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated and we will use them as we build the site. We love you too! Many Blessings in the Year to come!