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Big Budget, Low Quality… Why?

I am not that creative…
I don’t use Photoshop well…
I rarely create something with gloss…

But I don’t have a HUGE budget, either!

So tell me this…

With large hotel tax budgets, why are so many of the websites for official cities, counties and states just not up to step with current trends or even visual appeal?

When I want to redesign a website and I can’t hire a professional to do it for me, I search for similar websites to find trends and examples.   Note: I work better in the backend of a website than the front.

Just now, I got tired of searching through official state/city/county websites around the US for nice examples of design – rated for 2010!

Maybe I am wrong about all states and localities getting revenue from taxes (like the 4% hotel tax in PA that specifically goes to tourism related organizations).  Maybe they don’t have the budget.

What is so bad about the sites?

I see too many examples of crammed design – small, narrow websites, with small text and no spacing for the copy.  Images that are small and boxed in.  Hard to read, too much going on.  Maybe there is just that much to tell.

How often should sites be updated or redesigned?  Is that the budget restraint?

Why Am I Ranting?

Yeah, why am I ranting?  Well, I get slightly jealous when I see these designs that I know I can’t even come close to duplicating.  I tear my hair out (ok, the hair has been gone for years) trying to replicate something even close!

I am ranting because I know the budgets of these organizations.  I know the prices that some of these design firms are charging.  And I think that the touring, visiting, hungry citizens (that pay for this) are getting shortchanged.

They are not all bad…

True – I am really looking for cutting edge design in these sites, or at least an update.  I guess the toughest part for most sites that I visited – is that I started with the site I feel sets the best example:  Visit Philly.com

Q: Am I setting my expectations too high? Let me know in the comments below…

Your Business on Google Maps

Google Maps introduced a new feature a while back that now shows the names of businesses, right on the map, no charge, one postcard.

Try This

(As of 02/22/2010) go to:  maps.google.com, type “Boiling Springs, PA”  into the search box.  No big deal, right – you get a map centered on Boiling Springs.

Ok, so on the left hand side, right below the orange man – there is a plus sign, to zoom in the map.  Click that once.   Now you can see the High School, Gelinas Bed & Breakfast, and Allenberry ‘listings’.  Click the plus sign again and you see the Boiling Springs Tavern, Boiling Springs Pool, Village Artisans Gallery, Mateya Law Firm, the Boiling Springs, PA Post Office and more.   Another click shows a few more businesses.

I am not sure what rankings determine at what zoom level your business shows up, but it should be clear that your business NEEDS to be here.  Look closer at the listings.  The pool shows a swimmer, using the normal signage icons that you see on the highway.  The tavern shows a martini glass.  Gelinas shows a lodging icon.

Your Business

Check out your own town.  Is your business there?  Can someone stop by your business because they saw you on the map?

If your business is not there, or if you have not taken ‘ownership’ of your business in Google’s directory, you need to do that.  Once you have control of your listing, you can add hours, services, special information and even coupons.  If you work at all on improving your businesses relevance on the internet, this is one thing you need to address.

Get Listed

So – how to get your business listed, if it is not there already?  Go here: Google Local Business Center and follow the instructions.