Economic Development, Tourism, Website Development
Questions DMOs Need to Ask Before Building Their Website
by Nuno Faustino
Part Two Expert Q&A
In this interview, the second installment in our Expert Q&A, we sat down with our lead web developer, Nuno Faustino, to talk about the questions he gets asked most often when working with DMOs on their websites. From his past experience as a scriptwriter in his home country of Portugal, Nuno brings a sense of storytelling to web design, and that’s one of the reasons why working with DMOs has been so rewarding. Every DMO has a story to tell, and his mindset approaching each project is to reflect that unique narrative through clean aesthetics and layouts, clear messages and logical navigation structures.
As a web designer and developer, Nuno has done work for multinational businesses and institutions like Getty Images, Doctors Without Borders and Dazed Media, but his true passion (besides being a great dad for his six-year-old twin sons) is to create websites that can improve communities and people’s lives in real ways. From freelancer contractor to lead web developer, Nuno’s work with Bull Moose Marketing on heritage tourism and economic development web projects has proven to be the ideal medium to put that passion into practice. Bringing visitors to destinations has a direct impact on local economies and that translates into individual wellbeing.
Nuno believes that website development doesn’t need to be stressful or intimidating. Instead, it should be a fun process that allows clients to dig deep and reveal a better understanding of themselves and their goals.
Where Should I Start When Making a Website for My Destination?
Before any line of code is written or a mockup is created, the process needs to start with finding the answers to these central three questions:
- Who are you as a destination?
- Who are your visitors?
- What do you want to tell people about your destination?
After working on different web development projects with DMOs, one of the biggest mistakes I see them make is jumping too quickly into discussions about layout and design. These decisions should not be random or based on personal preference. They should be a reflection of what the DMO needs to communicate. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a website that might look sleek, but is not what you really need. By establishing answers to these three questions from the get-go, DMOs not only lay the groundwork to creating a meaningful website but also discover and solidify their destination’s brand. This will be helpful in all aspects of their marketing strategy and will promote trust, validation and consistency throughout their mediums and platforms.
What Is the Best Way to Organize All the Information on My Site?
It can be overwhelming to prioritize all of the information about your destination, but if you answer those questions we just mentioned, this process suddenly gets much simpler. Knowing who you are, who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to say will help you inform your content priorities. With that sorted out, structuring a sitemap and building navigation menus becomes way easier. It should come naturally.
Websites reflect content priorities by how easily users can find information, and that can be measured by how many clicks they need to access it. This might mean putting the most important information right on the home page, making it at a top-level navigation menu item or even creating dedicated landing pages that share this information. Information architecture is so important that, here at Bull Moose Marketing, we view sitemap creation and menu navigation structure as one of our main responsibilities when developing websites for DMOs. This website is a good example of how we worked with a DMO to organize their content in a way that was easy for visitors to navigate.
Is Your Website Giving Visitors Trust Issues?
Join Bull Moose Marketing’s Director of Digital Strategy & Brand Development, Megan McDonnell, and Lead Web Designer, Nuno Faustino, to learn about the principles and functionality your website needs in order to lay the groundwork for a high-performing, standout DMO website.
What Are the Must-have Elements of a DMO Website?
As much as every DMO website is unique, there are some elements that are important for all of them:
Good photography. Never underestimate the power of photography. It instantly adds credibility to a DMO website and has a huge influence on a user’s first impression of a destination.
Special interest landing pages. These pages will speak to specific audiences you want to attract, whether this audience is foodies, outdoor enthusiasts or other demographics who will enjoy your region.
Interactive maps with listings. This is an engaging way to show visitors what amenities your destination has to offer. It is important that these listings are accurate and categorized in ways that allow users to filter them depending on what they’re looking for.
Events calendar. Your visitors want to know what’s happening in your destination Make sure this page stays updated so your visitors can plan their getaways accordingly.
Itineraries. This will make it easier for visitors to plan their getaways. Create itineraries that are based on interest, duration of the trip, the type of demographic or even the proximity of attractions to each other.
A blog. Publishing blogs will keep your website’s content fresh and add seasonality. Just make sure you are consistent with your publishing schedule.
Access to a digital visitors guide. Visitors guides are the second most-referenced DMO materials after the website, so it’s important to make sure this is accessible for your visitors.
Am I Going to be Able to Manage My Website After Launch?
Whoever builds your website should train you on how to manage it. At Bull Moose Marketing, we allocate time to train our clients on website management so they can make updates and changes after the initial launch. We are also mindful about which platforms we use to build clients’ websites. We typically use WordPress for DMOs because of its flexibility, available plugins and scalability.
While there will be a learning curve, proper training can make it easy to learn how to manage your website, even without website-building experience. Since we create our websites from scratch, without using pre-made templates, we can tailor the site’s functionality and operation to the client’s needs.
How Do I Make My Website Appear on the First Page of Search Results?
While there are things that web developers can do, in the end, search engines need to be able to trust your website. This trust is built on reputation, high-quality content and length of operation. Make sure you’re managing your expectations when it comes to your website’s ranking on search results. Trust takes time to build.
That being said, there are steps you can take to improve your ranking, specifically in what is referred to as on-page search engine optimization (SEO). When we build websites for our clients, we make sure proper SEO elements, like SEO titles, meta descriptions and image optimization, are in place. Factors like site loading speed and mobile optimization also play a role in ranking better in internet searches.
How Do I Know that My Website Is Bringing People to My Destination?
This is, perhaps, one of the most important questions, but it’s ultimately the hardest one to answer. Some measuring methods can tell a part of the story, but it’s hard to have a concrete idea of the relationships between the website and visitors. There are some things we can refer to gauge impact, including:
- Website analytics. This will give you useful data points such as how many people are visiting the site, what pages they’re looking at and how many times they return to the site. While this doesn’t tell you how many are visiting your destination, it can help you understand the level of engagement visitors have within the site, which can indicate their level of interest in visiting your region.
- Special offers or downloadable materials. You can, for example, create a page where people can download vouchers that can be used at your destination. Since people will most likely download before visiting, this can give you a good idea of how your website is converting visitors.
- “Game-ified” challenges. Uploading an itinerary or passport where visitors can get a stamp or sticker after visiting certain attractions or amenities can also be a good tactic to track site users that end up visiting the destination.
- App integrations. Typically people will not download a destination’s app unless they are planning on visiting that destination. Tracking users’ actions here can also give you an idea of how many people are being converted.
It’s helpful to have measurable data to know if your website is bringing people to your destination. But, I would suggest that if you’re following the guidelines and best practices I’ve highlighted, then you can be confident you’ve done all you can to achieve the best results.
Good Websites Establish Trust With Their Visitors
Every DMO’s website will need a unique approach to communicate its message effectively, but by following these guidelines, you lay the groundwork for a website that visitors can rely on. And, if visitors can rely on you, then you’ve earned their trust, leading to a strong relationship for many trips to come.
Check out the first part of the expert Q&A here or view this example of a trustworthy DMO website.
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