Digital Journey to Physical Places

A couple weeks ago my wife Marieta and I traveled down to Kansas City for her 30th birthday. The best part about it was she knew we were going on a trip but didn't know where we were headed until the day of and even when she figured it out she didn't know any of our plans.

The fun thing about going to Kansas City was neither of us much history with the city. My family went there a couple times when I was in grade school but I couldn't really remember any of the attractions, same thing for Marieta. So after booking our hotel room I burned up the keyboard searching for things to do.

From my experience websites like Metromix and Citysearch are little help investigating our interests, and TripAdvisor is best used for hotels. For our purposes the KC Visitor Bureau,, website was awesome.

Everything's laid out for easy access, the site is really colorful and fun, you can find things based off your interests, there are little preview pictures and maps all over the place. A great site. (Personally I might include more video and twitter feeds but for a visitors bureau website it's a five star website).
In comparison has a lot of the same features but it is so unfun, unattaractive, and loose with space and features. is lacking in the fun/unique category as well.

It may not seem like much but for a city like Des Moines having an unattractive or "uncool" website is a big deal. I think most people expect Des Moines and Iowa to be boring, having a website in the vicinity of lame just hurts your chances of drawing tourists. A good in state example of a city with a stylish website is Dubuque.

Similar to, Travel Dubuque has really good color contrast, it has animation that isn't glitchy, and the features are laid out nicely. The rotating picture window may have a few professionally stage pictures, but it makes Dubuque look like a town where things are happening, some place you'd want to check out.

For my day job I co-produce an Iowa-based travel show, One Day Getaway, and when we decide to go to a town the first thing we do is look at its tourism site. A year and a half ago when planned to hit up Dubuque we got really excited, they really have their act together online. There are a few things I might change but nothing on this site will stop someone from making the drive.

When I start producing an episode of 1DG I generally follow the MoSCoW method of production, a technique to understand what a product;

  • Must do
  • Should do
  • Could do
  • Won't do
For our purposes its a way to define what is fun in a town that we must show, why people should visit, What's different that we could do there, and what about the town keeps people from visiting. Not exactly what MoSCoW is devised for but that's okay.

In my post "Web Video is King" I was pretty forceful with my opinion that websites need video on their frontpage, tourism sites are the absolute prime example of video being a necessity. Not to be boastful, but what makes an area seem more enticing; Seeing the front page of in all of its white and blue text glory or a colorful frontpage with social integration and an uptempo video that highlights something unique in the area like the 1DG excerpt below.


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