GoToStCroix has entered its 20th year!
It is with great pride and (yes) some shock to think that GoToStCroix began in November of 1999. I was dependent on a laptop that weighed about 20 pounds, a work space the size of a broom closet, and dial-up internet connection (the horror!). I did not realize then that what I had set out to do would challenge me every day on the job. I quickly realized that this work would never be considered ‘done’ thanks to the challenges of:
- The rapid pace that digital technology changes – the learning curve is steep, fast, and constant.
- The ever changing skill-set required to succeed in marketing, especially destination marketing.
- The focus of my efforts on St. Croix – a place with it’s own defiant personality and identity.
- The ups and downs of being a small business owner and entrepreneur, in a remote place.
Fast forward to now… I am pleased to announce that GoToStCroix has a new website! It’s exciting not only because it looks great, but because the investment made has taught us a lot about ourselves and where we need to improve.
The Team…I knew it was a job bigger than our local team alone could manage so Wendy (owner), Jennie (editor), Meredith (media coordinator) worked in collaboration with a contracted team of digital specialists including web designers, a user experience expert, a WordPress developer, and a search engine strategist. We had a pretty bad-ass team that worked really hard to make this happen. By far, this was the biggest investment made to date on GoToStCroix.com.
The Process…Consolidate. Archive. Replace. Update. Move. Remove. Redirect. Revisit. Oh, and my least favorite: MIGRATE. There’s 20 years worth of ‘stuff’ on GoToStCroix.com, and it took time (a LOT of time) to review and give a good cleaning to what had been done leading up to that point.
The Devil is in the Details…There were literally thousands of pages to scrutinize. More than 3,000 images have been resized and replaced. Fact checking along the way was tedious, but had to be done. Not sure? Better ask. Ask again. Double check. Better call to see. Better find out! Find a replacement. Add it to the list. Not this list, that one. All guts and no glory. We divided to conquer and put in the long hours to confirm the site is as accurate as possible.
The Pain…Did we finish on time? On budget? Did we get enough sleep or exercise – taking great care along the way? Hell, no. There was too much coffee, too little sleep, too much to do, and it took much longer than we imagined. We were about 50% done when 2 category 5 hurricanes set us back. We had to shift focus to survive, and the aftermath of months with no electricity, internet or phone definitely made things challenging – but we persevered.
The Gain…Our site is responsive, reflects our enhanced brand, packs an SEO punch, is visually awesome, easy to use, easy to update, strongly showcases our style and personality as GoToStCroix, as well as the ‘feeling’ we want to evoke for those using our site as a portal for St. Croix.
Here’s are just a few highlights of what we’ve accomplished:
- New design – visually stunning, up-to-date and very user-friendly
- Mobile friendly – the new site looks and works great on mobile devices
- New landing pages for improving user experiences
- More options for businesses to be listed on GoToStCroix
- New guides – we are so excited to continue working on these! St. Croix guides by area (C’sted, F’sted, North Shore) and by interests (Adventure, History, Fitness) allow us to give each user exactly what they want
- New Events Calendar that includes google map location, searchable by date. Easily download single events to your phone.
- New e-commerce store – we’ve never had one, can you believe it?! Shop for Vacation and Relocation packages, our vintage poster collection, and plenty of room to grow.
Behind the scenes we have made changes that make our service better:
- Upgraded to a new billing system
- Now offering annual or quarterly payment options to our advertisers
- Revamped our advertising packages and sales kit
- Updated our customer and email marketing lists
And so here we are…. ready to roll out our new site to the world, fully understanding that the job is never really done. The site will always need work, technology has changed since I began writing this, and the St Croix continues to evolve. Thank you to all of our advertisers (past and present), website visitors, and webcam enthusiasts for all your support. We invite you all to join us as we enter our 20th year better than ever and eager to serve our St. Croix community!
– Wendy Solomon, Owner