New Website from Long Time Lurker

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10/24/2012

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to announce our new website here. I think this is probably my first post but I'm reading up on here and lurking all of the time! We decided to break away from the well known bed and breakfast website designers and marketers and go it alone using SquareSpace and little background HTML and CSS knowledge I have picked up over the years. We are very pleased with the results so far and as long as we didn't blow up our SEO and Google placement, it will be a big cost savings for us!

The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm

I'd like to know what you think! There are some design elements that I don't have complete control of unless I dive deep into the CSS underneath but overall  I'm pleased with this result, especially how the blogging and event calendar is working out.

 

Arks's picture
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A+

And the availability search on the homepage works for me now.

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Joey Camb's picture
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availability on home page and each bedroom page - excellent! only thing I would say is there any way to make the one on the home page just a scrap bigger? I have 20/20 vision but might be just a bit small to read comfortably for someone else.

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10/24/2012

Final thanks to everyone for the suggestions and comments! 

  • Fixed the font rainbow - settled on open sans almost everywhere.
  • Eliminated the daffodil background, due to popular demand.
  • Eliminated the related youtube videos after my video plays.
  • Learned how to add/remove sections based on screen size for that slick responsive effect. Squeeze your browser down to mobile size for a surprise offer!
  • Made room pricing more transparent across the site.
  • Breakfast pictures may be coming soon, we are bartering with a semi-pro photographer, at minimum we are working on some more artistic and interesting pictures of our rooms.

http://www.sugarhollow.com

Thanks again!

If you are interested in taking on a project like this, I would recommend my new host, Squarespace.com - with one caveat -  you'll need to be willing to learn some HTML and CSS to take full advantage of your options (or hire a friend to do so!)

Sugaholler

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Looks great Suga!

seashanty's picture
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 just took a quick second look ... so much better without the daffodils but if you love them i hope you have a big beautiful picture on your site somewhere.

i love love love the mug picture with the blurred background ... and the autumn colors. makes me want to go there!

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10/07/2008

Holler, I was going to suggest something, but I have no room to talk. I was going to ask if you are trying to appeal to a younger crowd as you have hiking and more right there. So I was going to say...perhaps a little more personality, for the younger mindset on the site. BUT, and that is a BIG BUT, I clicked on the TA link and saw your quirky comment (which I love). But then I was ON TA and about fell over with those reviews! 

THAT NEEDS TO BE UP THERE! I mean, if you aren't full and want to bring in more business, BRAG, DANG IT, BRAG! 

May I walk in your shadow?...845 Excellent Reviews...good golly miss mollyyesyes

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Thanks! My dad has been on the TA bandwagon since forever. His personal strategy is to make TA work for the business and not the other way around, drown out any negative reviews with reviews from happy customers. At the same time, they are kind of uncomfortable with self-promotion on the web and even advertising about great reviews, awards, etc... I'm working on helping them toot their own horn a little more.

Country Girl's picture
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02/20/2009

Hi. I think your website looks great! The only thing I would suggest would be to add photos of your breakfasts. 

My youngest son went to UVA. I love Charlottesville.

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Thanks Country Girl - our food photography is definitely lacking. Thus, no good pictures to post! All of the pictures of the breakfasts look, well, unappetizing... but guests go away happy. 

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Sugaholler wrote:

Thanks Country Girl - our food photography is definitely lacking. Thus, no good pictures to post! All of the pictures of the breakfasts look, well, unappetizing... but guests go away happy. 

Like EmptyNest says...we took a day to just make every dish we like to cook, plated it on a white plate (often decorative dishes don't photo well), laid out a place setting and cooked and shot. One photo was so well-liked it ended up on the cover of a cookbook! If you have a north facing window you can get good light from that.

Some of the secret is in cooking for the camera. Some foods look awful when they are cooked for eating vs photographing. Sausage is a good example. A lot of sausages in photos look greasy or uncooked. They have to have a bit of brown to them but not blackened. If it's common to serve a 'Southern' meal of grits, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy that is just going to look like a mess of brown and white on a plate. So even if it tastes great it doesn't photo well.

Eggs have to be brilliantly yellow. And if it's an omelet it has to be browned. We can't use our omelet pix because it looks like a dead chicken on the plate! A little more browning and it would have been fine. As is? Dead chicken.

Another option is creative cropping. Cut out the parts that look bad. Focus on what came out well in the photo. You don't have to show the whole plate or the whole table.

I have a photo I love of french toast. There is a big 'snot' of egg white on the side of the bread. Crop crop! It's gone, the photo looks great now.

Don't take all the photos looking straight down at the plate. Shoot from the angle of the diner. Pull all of your serving pieces in close to the plate.

Stuff like that.

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05/22/2008

You all do everything so well. Why not just set aside some time to do a breakfast photo shoot?  Even if it is not professionally done, you can set it up to look good. Others here have.

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10/07/2008

All NEW innkeepers think maroon is the color for a B&B website and marketing. Every time. Smiling

Arks's picture
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Joey Bloggs wrote:

All NEW innkeepers think maroon is the color for a B&B website and marketing. Every time. Smiling

Not me. I went with black...because it was the default in the theme I bought, and I didn't know how to change it!

Plus, I'm color blind so don't do colors.

But since then, I've read that black if the color of "classy" and "top of the line", so I decided to keep it!

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the website we inherited here was black. it did look sharp!

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Arks wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

All NEW innkeepers think maroon is the color for a B&B website and marketing. Every time. Smiling

Not me. I went with black...because it was the default in the theme I bought, and I didn't know how to change it!

Plus, I'm color blind so don't do colors.

But since then, I've read that black if the color of "classy" and "top of the line", so I decided to keep it!


This is true, but you also are not a typical B&B. 

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05/22/2008

Yeah the daffodils are gone Smiling  But the background is too flat. why not try something like this for a bit of texture.

dumitru's picture
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Hi,

Leaving design preferences aside, my only two suggestions would be

1. Optimize the amount of custom fonts that are loaded, especially if not used.

For example, from what I can spot, here are the fonts that your website loads:
Google Webfonts: 
Actor:normal;
Open Sans:300,300italic,400,400italic,600,600italic,700,700italic,800,800italic;
Coustard;
Calluna Sans;
Felt Tip Roman;

I'm pretty sure that you don't need to load all available weights of Open Sans, as each takes some loading time and memory.

2. Avoid the fonts rainbow on your website.

a. The navigation uses Trebuchet MS;
b. The "Stay with us for a romantic..." uses Calluna Sans;
c. The main copy uses Verdana (why not use Open Sans instead?)
d. The blockquote element uses Felt Tip Roman (it makes the text less readable by the way);

The best practice is to use a combination of max 2 fonts on the same page, not 4.
Additionally, using fonts like Trebuchet and Verdana take your website back by at least 10 years.

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https://www.hermesthemes.com/ - WordPress Themes for Independent Hotels, Inns and B&Bs

 

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10/24/2012

Thanks for the advice on the fonts. I worked with Open Sans for a while and didn't like it maybe I'll go back and give it another try.

seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

 i agree about the daffodils. i'd get a neutral color on the sides in place of the daffodils. i love the main background color and all your pictures, and the daffodils are distracting. i also love the name.

 

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Thanks for the notes. Maybe I can keep the daffs in a more subdued way so as not to blind anybody.

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Just to emphasize EmptyNest's suggestion about getting rid of the daffodil background, here's what happened yesterday. I had a window open on my computer with your site. My husband sat down and went to your site. He said wow, this place looks great...those daffodils are driving me crazy.

He didn't know anything about the discussion here! So I thought I would let you know what a typical guy on the street (he's not the one that does anything to do with websites here) thought about it.

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Ok the daffodils are over the top! This is why I needed to ask the question on this forum. The people who know me personally wouldn't be so honest. haha.

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05/22/2008

Oh yes they would because I do know you personallysurprise and I say lose the daffodils all together.

Joey Camb's picture
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My only point would be - your video is good clear and the right speed - however I wouldn't put that sound on, this is because if people are having a crafty look at work it will hold them back, yes they can turn it off but if they don't know to in advance it will be playing before they can stop it. Music is fine but there must be a quick easy way to turn it off or choose to have it on.

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Thanks its just a youtube embedded video so the mute button is in the usual youtube place there at the bottom of the video? I hope.

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I just took a look at the video. You need to set it so that "related" videos don't show up at the end. You want it to stay with yours.

Another question. IS THIS SITE RESPONSIVE? I am pinching and squeezing on my screen and that really shouldn't happen if it is really responsive. Just curious?

Arks's picture
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EmptyNest wrote:

IS THIS SITE RESPONSIVE? I am pinching and squeezing on my screen and that really shouldn't happen if it is really responsive. Just curious?

On my laptop when I grab the window with the mouse and resize it, the website automatically resizes/reformats like a good responsive site. Haven't tried it on a smaller screen but yes, responsive sites generally don't respond to pinching.

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Great website!  And welcome!

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Gorgeous place you have!!

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05/22/2008

Hi Good Friends!

Haven't see you in ages!!! Miss all our chats.

Only thing I will say right now..is those daffodils no matter how pretty they are..do not go with the page and make it look so OLD SCHOOL web.

Also, the gold text on the burgundy background is a bit hard to read.

All my best!!!

Just so you know...your EX PREZ from long ago Smiling

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10/24/2012

Ok the votes are in and the daffodils are going out soon. I tried turning down the brightness on the text to help with the readability. I'll keep playing with that.

BTW this is your friends' son, now on board with the business.

Thanks for the help!

Smiling

 

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10/07/2008

Sugaholler wrote:

Ok the votes are in and the daffodils are going out soon. I tried turning down the brightness on the text to help with the readability. I'll keep playing with that.

If you want, you can always post a question as a poll! You can get a ton of feedback in one fell swoop:

Daffies as our website background:

  1. Love them
  2. Hate them
  3. Maybe subdued
  4. Other

My vote - OTHER: with your rates, you need to up the ante on your website and give it a more elegant feel, in other words 86 the daffies. 

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05/22/2008

angelyes i know

 

say hi to dad and mom for me!

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02/18/2012

Those were my top two comments as well, to a nice looking website!  I noticed the prices, and man, those daffodils don't inspire the feeling of a $200 experience for me (suggestion, don't know the area, but a beautiful area nature view...waterfall, etc..might be nice- just one picture...don't repeat over the page).  And the contrast between the text and background made it hard for me to scan / read. 

 

I really liked the top navigation bar and drop down options. I liked that you had the contact info there as well.

 

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10/24/2012

Lots of wild daffodils every here this time of year, just popping up now,  kind of memorable theme for our guests starting about now as part of early spring, but everyone seems to hate them so I'm moving onto to summer straight away. I tried the one picture thing but I ran into challenges with balancing page speed. I'll look into it again!

egoodell's picture
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06/01/2008

Hi neighbor!

LOVE the website. I love large photos like you have since I don't think people read. At all. 

Riki

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Riki Goodell
Arcady Vineyard Bed & Breakfast
Arcady Vineyard Wine Tours
www.arcadyvineyard.com
Come! Let us show you the beautiful Monticello Appellation!

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Ahhh the location of the mysteries of the Hunting community of Mrs. Murphy by Rita Mae. Welcome

Madeleine's picture
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Fussy user here...I would rather not have to click the calendar to see the prices. I have a chart on each room page that shows the range of prices for a given month/season. Then the guest can click thru to the calendar to see the exact rate for the date.

Never mind. I just saw the 'compare' page. Now I'm going to copy that for my site! Great idea!

Maybe you need a couple of rate range columns to show seasonality. If there is a difference.

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10/24/2012

You are right. I'm going to put the prices more up front. Meant to do that already but forgot!

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10/07/2008

Just opening the site comparing rooms chart, why is there such a huge gap in room prices within each room? Midweek to weekend, or off season to peak? I ask, as you will have many guests ask this as well.  Not sure you want to explain each one in the chart or not, just wondering.

I look forward to sharing your blog online.

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10/24/2012

Exactly, we decided to lower our rates during Dec - Feb this year, and we lower our rates on weekdays so that's the variability. The jury is out regarding that strategy. This "yield management" thing is still a new concept to us even though we are about to start our 20th year in business!

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10/07/2008

Hey Virginia neighbor!

Question: Are you hosting elopements as well or only larger weddings, if you are hosting elopements, let me know and I can add you to this blog article I wrote just today!

Glad to see you and get to know you! yes

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10/24/2012

We host small weddings, but we don't offer anything as a package. We just provide suggestions for who to call for catering, who to call for an officiant... and try to steer clear of getting too involved!

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Nice looking place! Website is good but I know some will offer good suggestions.

I did have a problem making my reservation, though, using the box near the bottom of the home page:

Sorry, this URL is invalid. Some parameters required for processing the online reservation are missing.

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10/24/2012

I've heard that this box wasn't working before, but I have been unable to replicate the issue. Might have to remove it as to not turn off any customers. hmm....

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