A website that a big city would be proud of, truly run & owned by the community of a small town.
see the site at: www.hebdenbridge.org
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED…
Hebden Bridge is Special. It constantly sits in many ‘Top Ten Places to…” lists and has been called “Britain’s Funkiest Town’, ‘One of The Best Places to Live in Europe’, and has had many, many more accolades bestowed upon it.
Hebden marches to its own alternative tune, ever since the hippies moved in in the 1970s, and has become a bohemian, independent mecca for visitors and residents alike, as well as being a magnet for foodies, walkers, mountain bikers, fell runners & cyclists. That alternative tune is still hummed by the majority of residents!
But it has never had a visitor facing website – a place you could find out about what was going on, where to stay, what outdoor adventures are on offer, in fact, there was very little.
So when Hebden won The Great British High Street Award for Best Market Town & People’s Choice (more accolades) the town was given some prize money. The Business Forum then called me in, to ask me to come up with an idea for a sustainable website, one that could pay its way, highlight the fantastic independent businesses of the town and one that would be constantly updated without costing the earth. The brief was to let visitors and people who are considering moving to, or investing in the area, get a real sense of the character of the town, whilst helping to promote the many independent businesses.
My plan was to create a dynamic website with beautiful photography, great writing with lots of good information, but most of all to make it ‘owned by the people of Hebden Bridge’.
We built a brand and a beautiful site, then my plan was to go out to businesses and say “This is your site, for you to advertise your business, but it will be much more than that. It will be a slice of Hebden life, with contributions by locals, their recommendations on walks, eating out, shopping and more. So you won’t be advertising, you will be sponsoring something that has a benefit to everyone in Hebden’.
And it will have blogs – lots of blogs! Because Hebden is full of writers who are passionate about all sorts of things. From fell running to art, music to history – in fact, there’s even a blog on the use of cannabis for medical use! It’s basically a Locals’ Guide for Visitors.
We then said to the businesses ‘Would you be prepared to sponsor the site, if we gave you a page for your business, took some great photos of you, and wrote some brilliant copy about what you do?
And loads said yes! So my friends & colleagues Will Lake (copywriter), Sarah Mason (photographer) & Katie Kimber (web person) and Nick from Element Jewellry (as a representative of the Business Forum) worked with me to bring this whole thing together. A dream team as far as I’m concerned.
It took some planning, but we created a beautiful site, that is dynamic and full of information, which is constantly updated.
Fore example: Photo galleries are one of those things that always stagnate on a site like this. So after a bit of fishing, we came up with the idea of creating a gallery page that was a huge Instagram feed. We have around 10 people logged into the @HelloHebden Instagram account, and when they are out and about, they take photos which are automatically uploaded to the site. This has the advantage of being constantly updated, but also having people visit the site through seeing stuff on Instagram!
The blogs are numerous, and on many diverse subjects from many different people. There are walks, downloadable cycling routes, recommendations for food, drink accommdation and more.
The businesses are now in their 2nd year of sponsorship, so the first year (when we paid for photography & copywriting) broke even, this year allows the site to be developed further to create a sustainable and vibrant site for one of the most unique towns in the UK. And I am lucky to have my office there!
So a website that a big city would be proud of, truly run & owned by the community of a small town.