The Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau won the “Stars of the Industry Award” for Best Website at the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
Stonewall Marketing Group coded the new website, but the staff at the Convention and Visitors Bureau handled the content and organization. “We sat down with them, and we took a lot of time designing and figuring out what we wanted from the website,” Executive Director Jessica Waldo said. “It was a lot of pre-work, even before we saw the first creative product.”
“What we really wanted to focus on was photography and really letting the photography speak for the area,” she said.
This focus put the work of Marketing Manager Brian Sarfino in the frame. “I saw it as a way for me to become a better asset,” Sarfino said. Instead of paying photographers, Sarfino operated as the CVB’s in-house photographer.
In addition to providing the majority of the site’s photography, Sarfino wrote the content that informs the users. “What he really excelled at and did really well with was the actual content and then figuring out the flow of the website,” Waldo said.
The work on the website began right after Leaf Peepers ended in 2017. The website went live this spring.
The website pops with streaming videos and stunning imagery of the area, all on a seamless format. Recreation and lodging options guide the navigation of the site, making the visit on the site easy and interesting.
Sarfino began his work organizing all the content at the literal drawing board. With all the tourism content available for Tucker County, he began to physically assemble the information. “I started writing it all down and mocking stuff up,” he said.
From there the content went virtual, and through trial and error he found what worked best for the website. “It was just a process of you’d put something out there, and you work with that, and then you’d whittle it down, whittle it down,” Sarfino said.
“What feels right, what flows right, you’re in the confines of the website, so you have to work within their limitations and adjust to that.”
Nuanced changes help increase the accessibility to serve the main objective of the website: help visitors plan their trip. One change was administered in the way rental options are organized. Instead of organizing options by location, website users can view rentals by their type, such as cabin, lodge, or vacation rentals.
Another improved aspect of the website allows local entities to submit their own events, streamlining the process of assimilating information on the upcoming events page.
This resulting ease of access for the user was not an easy task to orchestrate. “The hardest part is that we have so much information. It was hard to take all that broad information and make it specific. That was my goal: to be specific and accurate,” Sarfino said.
“There are so many aspects. Take boating for example, what kind of boating: canoes, paddleboards, whitewater kayaking? Where? Moving water, flat water, lakes?” Sarfino said. In order to improve the user experience, Sarfino explored all those different elements, and then boiled it down to a refined, informative website.
Sarfino continues to update the website, including upcoming events, pictures that reflect the season, and lodging listings.
“This summer was the time for me to fill in all the details. It’s ever evolving and revolving all the time,” Sarfino said.
As for the award, “I think it’s a feather in the cap. It shows that we’re doing something right,” Waldo said. “The goal is to portray the place properly and accurately,” Sarfino said.
To view all the new aspects of the website, visit http://canaanva