New Web site proves to be a hit for VCDC By David Lias
Plain Talk A new Web site for the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company has only been live since late Monday, and it's already proving to be a hit among VCDC members and others who have viewed it. "So far the feedback has been really positive," said Steve Howe, the VCDC executive director. "Within an hour of it being up, somebody called and said 'it looks great,' so the feedback has been really good so far. It's fresher looking and more up to date, which is exciting for us." Anyone with Internet access and a computer can view the site by logging on to www.vermillionchamber.com. The site provides plenty of detailed information about the local Chamber of Commerce, economic development and visitor/tourism activities. The site's home page contains tabs that allow easy viewing of long lists of items in those three categories, a search engine for members, listings of events and members news, a map of the Vermillion region, and information and Web links related to local businesses and attractions. The site was designed by Jodi Bacorn and Beth Rye, members of the Yankton Press & Dakotan's new media staff, and features photographs taken by the VCDC, the Vermillion Plain Talk, and Bill Willroth Sr. Both the Press & Dakotan and the Plain Talk are locally owned by Yankton Media, Inc. "We are glad to have the Press & Dakotan, which is a Chamber member, provide this service and Jodi and Beth were great to work with," Howe said. The VCDC's former Web site was designed approximately nine years ago, with features that were popular in Internet page design at that time. "It was state-of-the art for that time," Howe said, "but I think with the further development of Web pages over the years, there have been better ways developed to design them. "I think the layout of the new page is a little more modern, and it's more user-friendly," he said. "It's more intuitive, and it gives its users easier ways to find information than in the previous site. The information is easier to get to, which helps anyone using the site quickly discover everything our community has to offer." The site is designed to not only show off Vermillion, but also to serve as a strong boost to members of the VCDC. "We've incorporated a member search that many Chamber Web sites don't have," Howe said. "We have the standard list of members presented alphabetically, and some base categories, but what we've also done is gone out to our members and asked them to provide us with some key words about the products or services that they sell." Users of the new Web site may simply type key words that describe the type of business they are looking for – building contractors, for example – into the site's search engine, and a listing of local businesses that fit that description appears. "It's going to allow people to find the goods and services in Vermillion that they are looking for in a much easier way than in the past," he said. "Our goal is to be the site that people go to when they want information about goods or services in Vermillion. We want to drive people to these businesses using the Web site, because that's the way people are doing their shopping these days. People are looking for stuff online. They want to be three clicks away from information about merchants." Users of the Web site may conduct a member search from any of its many pages. "It's just so much easier to use without having to scroll through lists to try to identify different businesses," he said. "As far as benefits to our members, it's giving them a lot more exposure." The newly-designed Web site also serves as a sales tool for the VCDC. "This is an extra service we can offer to our members," Howe said. "It will help drive people to their businesses, which is our organization's ultimate goal — to promote local businesses, and this will ultimately help us do that."