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It’s a long way from a done deal, but the city’s economic development committee is looking at options for a destination marketing website for the Ridgecrest area. The group mulled over a proposal for a sample package, which would cost roughly $18,000. It is not clear where funding for such a project would come from. It is also not yet determined whether the city or some other entity would own the domain.

At the meeting Wednesday, committee member and Councilwoman Lindsey Stephens showed the committee a proposal from Mountain Studio and Nils Davis Design. Committee members and city staff emphasized that the proposal is only an example, since any purchasing decisions would be required to go through a procurement process.

The Mountain Studio and Nils Davis Design proposal goal is for “a comprehensive, informative and accessible website to enhance the image of Ridgecrest to visitors, business prospects and filming clients as well as current chamber members.”
The cost estimate is $18,300, including the first year of $25-a-month for maintenance of the WordPress-based platform. This cost does not include professional search engine optimization and hosting fees are to be determined. The estimate is based on an $100 an hour fee.

The website outline would include areas for main navigation such as lodging, dining and bars, activities, trip planning and events. The top navigation would include a home page, and sections “about Ridgecrest,” contact, meetings, film services, partners and business and a vacation planner.

Stephens said she came up with the idea when she was putting together fliers promoting the city and did not have a website she wanted to list on the flier.

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“There’s not really a good website for us to point to to showcase our city,” she said. Stephens added that the city has a couple of different websites as do other local organizations, but in her opinion “none of us is really hitting it out of the ballpark in being really useful and eye-catching with good information” and links that work.

She said the goal is for an “all encompassing Ridgecrest website” that people could easily find online.

“I think that would be important to have that as a landing page, a jumping off spot,” Planning Commissioner and committee member Bill Farris said.

Councilman and committee member Wallace Martin said he thought the price was not bad and the project is a good idea. Martin suggested a central landing intro page to “manage competing egos” who might want input and links.

“I think it’s great. I think its been needed,” Martin said. “I see no objections.

Martin later added, “I think its a minor investment for a major yahoo.”

“I like the idea,” Farris said, adding that ground rules for construction need to be hammered out.

“I like the idea, I’m just trying to wrap my brain around who’s going to control it, who’s going to pay for it,” Planning Commissioner and committee member Jim Sanders said.

Sanders suggested that the economic development committee or a subcommittee have some input into developing the website.
Martin suggested committee approval be reserved until late in the process with only minor input at from the committee at the end. He used a metaphor to express his point of view that the consultant should do most of the work.

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“Let her [consultant] make the gumbo and all we are fooling with is the parsley and the dressing and a little dessert,” he said.
Sanders summarized what next stops could be: deciding whether or not to purse the project, defining needs and wants and going out to bid.

The committee ultimately decided to do individual research on existing websites and to revisit the topic later.

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