I designed the logo first, then the business cards, then I really started the website. Most importantly, I knew that the photography would have to be the main element to this site. When you have a 10,000 sq. foot Victorian mansion to “sell,” images really do speak louder than words.
The owners, Jan Zimmer and Deanna Gaedcke, really gave us full creative freedom. They had concrete needs (as do all business owners) but when we presented them with our idea to have very bold, unmistakable photography they could tell that we meant to make this site one of a kind in their industry. I didn’t realize that the scrapbooking retreat market was so popular, but apparently it’s one of the few industries left thriving in the mid-west.
I’d spent quite a bit of time on many of their competitors sites, and knowing what I know about small businesses, most of these sites did a fairly good job with what was probably moderate means. Most of them looked as though a friend had done them, or a student. I’m definitely not knocking them, but I knew that Memories Manor’s website would be different — It would knock your socks off. It had to if they were going to compete for business, not just locally, but across states and even into neighboring Canada.
The whole “Modern Victorian” thing is in full swing in places like Los Angeles and Chicago. And I didn’t want to get too entrenched in that. I wanted the design to feel a little more like it belonged with the house, as opposed to an ad for Urban Outfitters. I didn’t want to alienate anyone who might come to the site – scrapbooker or not.
About a week before they officially opened in July of 2008, we traveled to Michigan to photograph the house, and we spent about 5 days taking pictures. I had a very clear image in my head of what the site would contain, and how it would look, so it was a pretty straightforward process. After all was said and done we had roughly 450 images, and that was more than enough to fill up the site with really great imagery.
Memoriesmanor.com is a work in progress (as are all good websites) and we continually strive to make it the best possible marketing tool for Memories Manor.