Building the Perfect Web Beast

We’re re-building the Bureau website here in Norman, OK. At the DMAI Conference in Atlanta I saw a LOT of cool new tools – or ‘widgets’ as I’ve learned. Plus the staff has been asking a lot of questions mainly like “Shouldn’t our website be able to do (insert task here)?”

Some might say I’m helping my competition by sharing all of this, but most of you know by now, sharing is what this email is all about! So with all due respect to Don Henley, here’s Part 1 of ‘Building the Perfect Web Beast’ – this month’s Five @ 5.

1. Content Management System. CMS or related to your website – Web Content Managment – is designed to allow you to edit your website without knowing HTML or uploading files. We all know our websites should be able to be changed almost daily as needed, a good CMS will allow you to do so. Oh, and if it is web based, you’ll be able to do it from anywhere!

2. Customer Relationship Management. Or ‘database’. Forget Excel! There are CRM systems that track every time you call or email that conference you’re trying to attract, store your leisure leads, and tally every time you refer someone to one of your attractions or hotels. And it should be integrated with your website! When Joe Visitor completes your form for a visitors guide, it should go into your database – without you typing in the data!

3. Analytics Software. Used to collect and display data about visiting website users, analytics software is FAR beyond the little counter at the bottom of websites! Yes, you’ll see how many ‘hits’ your website is getting, but you’ll also see from which websites or ads your visitors are coming from, which pages they are viewing the most and for how long, and a whole bunch of other ‘dashboard’ type stuff I’m sure will impress your board!

4. Mobile Websites. Visitors aren’t just learning about Your-ville via the web on their PC. They may be searching via their smart phone. Two camps: have a separate site specific for mobile phones. The other suggests coding your website to determine whether or not Jane Visitor is accessing via a PC or a smart phone. I like option two. Especially if I forget to update the mobile site regarding the board members’ change in menu!

5. Booking Engine. Number two thing being done over mobile phones? Hotel reservations. Booking engines aren’t just for Expedia, Priceline and your hotels any more. There are numerous options for a booking ‘widget’ to be on your website. No longer do you need to link to your hotel websites any longer. Oh, and who wouldn’t like a little coinage from every room booked through your site!?

Next month, Part II. We’ll explore five other tools to truly beef up your website. If you have a tip, let me know. I’ll share it!

(Originally posted February 2010)

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