TACO Taps 23-Year-Old Web Designer for New Look
TexasCampgrounds.com has made the task of finding a campground faster and easier for thousands of camping enthusiasts in Texas and across the country with the help of a 23-year-old website designer from Texas Wesleyan University.
Matt Taylor of Texas Advertising spent the past eight months working on a major redesign of TexasCampgrounds.com, which was already drawing 13,000 to 15,000 unique visitors each month before the upgrades were completed last week, according to a news release.
“Matt supervised the entire project and did an outstanding job,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). “Working with an outside programmer, he made TexasCampgrounds.com very sleek and easy to navigate.”
The most obvious change is a noticeable increase in the use of photos and tabs, which make the website more visually appealing while minimizing the need for scrolling. “These changes and enhancements make the information easier to digest,” Schaeffer said.
The redesign, which coincides with the introduction of a new TexasCampgrounds logo, includes a new search function that shows listings of parks based on their distance from specific cities or points of interest. Photos are also included with each listing, if available, which can help consumers decide which parks they want to click on to learn more about their amenities, activities and surroundings.
“More information is given to the consumer faster with this redesign,” Schaeffer said, adding that parks that do a good job of providing photos to the website have an immediate marketing advantage over those that do not.
“You can’t ever lose sight of the fact that it’s a competitive world,” Schaeffer said. “I think the traveler is becoming more sophisticated. We compete for tourism money. People have choices. If they go to hotel websites or other travel venue websites, we want to be able to stack up against those sites.”
Taylor, for his part, said photos and YouTube clips are increasingly sought after by young and more mature campers alike. “I don’t want to go somewhere where I don’t know what I’m going to get,” Taylor said, adding that if a park says it has a swimming pool, it’s nice for the consumer to be able to see what that pool looks like before making a reservation.
"If you're looking at a list and see parks with photos of a swimming pool or a nice club house, versus those that don't, you'll be drawn to those that have photos first."
The redesigned TexasCampgrounds.com is compatible with third-party online reservation systems, and roughly half of the website’s 360 listed parks offer instant online reservations.
The redesign was completed using a Joomla content management system, a relatively new technology that has enabled the campground association to continually update the TexasCampgrounds.com website without having to use an outside website management firm.
TexasCampgrounds.com has been gaining traction with consumers, drawing 28.5% more online reservations from 2008 to 2009. That number should grow even more in 2010 since it had been about six years since TexasCampgrounds.com was significantly renovated and a redesign was urgently needed. “Five or six years is a lifetime in Internet time,” Taylor added