By Kara Albrecht
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer
LANSING, MI. – Old Town is in the process of transforming their lackluster website into a technological tool for generating business.The Old Town Economic Restoration Committee met on Oct. 9, 2012 to discuss how to keep people interested in the neighborhood. By updating the current website, the committee hopes to create a better showcase of their businesses in order to keep up visitor interest.
“We need to showcase the businesses and festivals better,” said Old Town Economic Restoration Committee Member Andy Hannum.
The Association’s number one priority on the website is updating the business listing. The current listing needs new categories for more efficient searching.
“Right now if you want to find retail, you have to keep clicking next for six pages to get there and that is not a fun way to search for something,” said Old Town Commercial Association Communications Director Danielle Cooke.
“You would only go to the Old Town website if you already knew what you were looking for,” said Old Town resident Ryan Hodges. “It doesn’t invite you to branch out to new businesses and it provides little information on what they have.”
CiesaDesign is a design firm located on Grand River Ave. in Lansing that has been in charge of the website for a few years.
“When CiesaDesign first created our website they did it probono, which was really nice of them to do,” said Cooke. “They will most likely be the ones to do all of the upcoming refurbishing of our website.”
The Committee is also looking into using Google Business Photos in order to provide a virtual tour of all of the businesses.
Google Business Photos uses street view photography from local photographers with whom they contract to show the inside of businesses.
“We do not know a cost on this addition yet, but I am assuming it would be a couple hundred dollars,” said Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Louise Gradwohl. “We would find out how much the cost would be per business and then ask the businesses if they would want to do it.”
If the businesses choose to do it, there would be a hyperlink under the business’ thumbnail on our website that would take people through the virtual tour.
One Old Town resident disagrees with the Old Town Commercial Association of the benefit of the virtual tour. Ryan Hodges thinks it would be better to not use the virtual tour for security reasons.
“I personally do not think the virtual tour is a good idea,” said Hodges. “Does the business owner want their inventory stolen?”
“You know, after a few years of using the same website, there’s always things that you want to do to it and add to it,” said Gradwohl.
In order for the website to be redone, it must be passed by the board. The current quote for the project is $630.
“All of the money to be spent on these type of projects is submitted to the board and they have the final say on whether it is necessary for the future of Old Town or not,” said Cooke. “Having to wait for the board means that this project may not begin until January.”
“Having better descriptions on the local businesses would definitely generate more interest in checking out Old Town,” said Hodges.
Contact Kara Albrecht: firstname.lastname@example.org