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  • Writer's pictureLori Gagen

Creating a digital image that matches the quality of reality

What a joy it was to meet the proprietors of Shipshewana North Park, offering Amish log cabin lodging, camping cabins, campground, and more in Northeast Indiana!


I was elated to receive a "cold call" from Uma and even more happy to hear she learned about me from a Google search for website designers in the area. She shared with me that she had experienced more than one website consultant who, like so many do, left them hanging as their website design began to degrade.


There are so many web editing tools out there, and it is no doubt difficult to know where to turn for most small businesses. This is exactly why I founded Catchy Creations!


The first step was, of course, to meet with Uma and her husband, Sam. Together, we looked over the "old site" and uncovered the plan for a new one. Upon my arrival at the property, I knew right away this was going to be a great opportunity to transform the perceptions anyone might gain from only seeing the current website. The grounds are beautifully wooded with mature pines and green lawns, not the image that immediately came to my mind when I first explored online.


"Before" home page, constructed on a platform with extremely limited user engagement options. The site suffered from some overlapping elements as well.
"Before" home page, scrolled down to the footer, shows a lot of text and tiny images.

The scope of this project was well defined. The proprietors wanted to see a "modern" design with some movement, larger images to represent what they have to offer, and the ability to download the park map. I also noted opportunities to embed TripAdvisor reviews, to better highlight their excellence, and enhance the engagement of visitors looking to visit one of Northeast Indiana's most popular tourism destinations in the heart of Amish country.


"Before" content included a section about area attractions, but without any imagery.

I almost immediately got to work preparing three different design styles from which to choose. The client selected a mix of full-width elements and page-centered elements to allow for some blank space, while still highlighting images to promote the property and many amenities offered. As soon as I got started on the design phase, I realized I needed some inspiration - a logo! So, I offered up a few designs for consideration.


I found inspiration for the logo design from the white silhouette on the park's existing site. The first iteration of the new logo was a little "monotone" and the client, who has a great eye for design, suggested we colorize it. The result is as seen on the new site:


"After" - the new site landing page is bold and bright, featuring the new logo and slideshow of images in the header. The park's excellent TripAdvisor reviews are also front and center.
"After" utilizes Dynamic Data to enable the proprietors to make essential content updates without risk of affecting design elements. For example, they can swap out these images quickly and easily in the site's "back end" on Wix.com.

New decor, a price change, a new in-room amenity, these things are all likely to happen after the website goes live. Rather than expecting the property's proprietors to be confident about editing web pages, Wix.com provides a user interface in which elements can be changed without entering the page design at all. I choose Wix more often than not for small business projects because it is affordable, user friendly, and pretty darned amazing in terms of features included in base hosting packages.


Though the client does not have rights or an archive of photos from neighbors around the region, they nonetheless want to help encourage their visitors to explore and stay as long as possible. We amped up the graphic design of the Area Attractions page, also using Dynamic Data content, to encourage more engagement on the site.


"After" design features include a more intriguing and interactive page to explore other area attractions. Links connect directly to property websites and landing pages.

"After" displays the Dynamic Data the site owner can easily update on the back end of Wix. A floating side menu helps ensure the user doesn't miss any critical information provided.

This project was fun, allowing me the freedom to create from scratch in many ways, with the opportunity to continuously improve as a new camping season comes in the months ahead. Uma and Sam plan to keep making this site better and better, with higher quality images that we can also make "clickable" to enlarge, leaving site visitors with the impression intended - high quality and affordable lodging options in Shipshewana!


From beginning to end, the project took just six weeks (and was completed over Christmas and the holiday season). If you are a camper and/or love nature and cabins, you must check out Shipshewana North Park!


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