Because we rural people like to stay connected, local community websites are common projects. But how do you make a good one?
That’s what your fellow reader Sean wants to know:
I am looking into creating a web site for our small town. My goal is to have a central place to highlight the local business, have a central calendar of events and other related news and information. I was wondering if you could recommend an existing platform or examples of other successful small town web sites.
Do you know of a great small town website? I just ran across this good-looking site, The Winterset Citizen by Julie Freirer.
Do you have ideas of what you’d like to see, if your town had a community site? How do you make it pay for itself? Please, share your thoughts in the comments, or by hitting reply if you’re reading this in your email.
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Thanks for this post!
I started my site, finditinfondren.com, three years ago about the arts district of Jackson, Mississippi, as a way to connect readers to the people, places and events of the neighborhood. While we have morphed over time from a visitor guide to more of a magazine format (and we do publish a quarterly magazine), we still maintain the charm of Fondren by providing a hyper local “good news” and information based site.
Small Biz Survival says
A couple of readers replied by email:
I use the Google calendar imbedded on our website. I set up a specific Google email account not linked to anything else and have distributed that and the password to some of the people in town that are in charge of lots of activities. For example, the library staff, the secretary for the Masons, etc. That way, they can update the calendar with their events and I won’t be inundated with added tasks for other organizations’ events. Anything that they add is automatically propagated into the community calendar on our website. Also, if anyone else wants to put that same calendar on their website, I encourage them to do so. The more people that find it, the more useful it becomes. My biggest challenge has been getting the community in the habit of notifying me that something needs to be added to the calendar. I plan to create an email distribution list of the people that are most involved in creating events in our community and then I can send out periodic reminders to let me know if they have things to add.
Watonga Chamber of Commerce
http://www.cubamomurals.com is our website, which is connected to our Facebook page. It is run by volunteers of the Viva Cuba Community Betterment/Beautification group. Good photos are important as is a sense of history and place. It needs to go beyond just an events page and should show a town that you would like to visit and do business in.
Raymond Seth says
Instead of distributing the account passwords for your google account to work on this calendar you should just share you calendar with others. They can create there own google accounts and when you share you can specify who has rights to edit or add things to the calender. This way You also know who actually posted the event to the calendar. You have more control over the calendar this way.
Becky McCray says
Raymond, that’s a great idea for sharing. Thanks.
Barry meadows says
We’re working with the myhigh.st team to develop a high street centric view of the town, giving the small independent shops a low cost, low risk way to sell online, while selling the town together. By forming a community we’re also improving digital skills and sharing experiences. We’ve just launched the new look and feel at http://cromer.myhigh.st/
Becky McCray says
Thanks for sharing your platform choice, Barry. It’s a good-looking site, and gives the shopper a feel for your town.
Julie Feirer says
My goodness! For some reason I didn’t see this post until today, though I’ve been a fan of yours for some time and a subscriber to your newsletter. Thanks so much for the mention and the link! I am now at the six month with my small town site and I find that the more I write about it, the more I love it. Thank you for the ongoing inspiration.
Becky McCray says
Congratulations on reaching six months, Julie. Here’s to many more anniversaries and successes!
Becky McCray says
Angel Jepsen sent this comment in via the contact form:
Hi Becky! I just came across your site while looking for information on Small Town city websites. I live in Charter Oak, Iowa, and am on the city council, my family also owns a repair shop in town. Our city council had been debating for years about getting a website for our community. They couldn’t decide what type of site to go with, who to have build it, what type of information to share, etc. After lots of research and communicating with website providers I found one that worked perfectly for our community and was affordable for a small town, the city commercial club agreed to pay for half of the site. We have been able to promote the businesses numerous ways on our site. We try to keep the community calendar up to date to help keep people informed of local events and the first 6 months has been great.
Thanks for sharing, Angel. Always great to hear examples that work in the real world.
Becky McCray says
Longtime reader Jane S. Reed sent this comment:
Our Viva Cuba website started as information for our murals wwwcubamomurals.com. Then it expanded to many blog entries about the people, places, and activities of Cuba, MO-population 3500. It has a lot of photos-old and new-and local history. It is a customized site on a WordPress page and contains no advertising. Then we began the FB page Cuba MO Murals and More (linked to Twitter) and developed 8 Pinterest Boards under Cuba, Missouri. We deal with some annual events, but don’t keep an up-to-date list on our website. Through the website and Facebook page, we wanted to show a personal look at our small town that would attract folks to visit and do business. We also wanted to make it an attractive source for our own people. We do not have ads on our website, so it does not pay for itself. But we do get a lot of support from citizens, donors, and businesses of the area.