Amana Colonies is a unique German community in the heart of Iowa. Over 90 years, Amana Colonies has grown from a quaint communal town to a destination for food, festivals, and fun.
A Place Like No Other
The Amana Colonies Convention and Business Bureau’s are made up of seven villages built and settled by Germans on 26,000 acres of land. In Iowa County, these colonies are made up of Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, and Homestead. They are a premier destination showcasing a long heritage that still lives through today. The Amana Colonies are known to have become the #1 tourist attraction in Iowa.
Amana Colonies came to us with the issue of having two websites that were competing for the same audience. The previously chosen website platforms were difficult to update and manage without custom code. The looks of the sites were also hard to navigate.
The goals for AmanaColonies.com were to increase digital traffic and reduce administrative costs. We also wanted to ease the navigation throughout the site both for website viewers and backend users. In turn, bringing more in-person visits to the Colonies.
Unique Content is Key
By approaching the challenge based on other tourism sites we’ve done in the past and knowing that visitors are looking for unique information and insight that they can’t necessarily get from other traditional sites (Google and Yelp). Instead of trying to compete with Google on the business directory, we were able to produce quality content valuable to visitors. We wanted to take the existing base directory and build on it — showing how those businesses were intertwined with activities and things to do around the Amana Colonies.
We based our sitemap structure and website design on what users were most interacting with by analyzing past website data. Using data from Google Analytics and social media platforms, and Hotjar, we were able to identify what would be most effective approach.
Be Where the Visitor’s Are
The first decision we made was what directory to use. This was decided by understanding what the Amana Colonies Convention and Business Bureau’s wanted it to accomplish. After a long review process, we selected the Geodirectory V2 plugin.
Next, we wanted to break up the activities offered in each area by separating them into many different filtered blog posts. By doing this, we could ensure that many different personas of the target audiences would find what they were looking for. Another way we broke up the activities was by season. When doing this, we were able to show the main festivals that happen during each of those seasons.
With the many villages and back roads around Amana, we heard that some visitors were not able to navigate to all the points they were looking to see. To further help the visitor experience, we developed native iOS and Android audio tour apps giving visitor’s a simple way to explore the history of Amana on their own through their smartphone. A lot of visitors stop by the Amana Heritage Society to ask for directions or what to do when they first make it to Amana. Instead of having the “take 3 lefts then a right, then another 2 lefts” conversation, they now say “download this app, and go here, here, and here”. The visitors now have the ability to learn more about Amana’s history through the audio tour app. This was a way to encourage visitors to travel through many historic places in the seven villages.
The new website works efficiently to increase Amanas outreach by being more than a “directory” of the businesses. We provided a directory to be flexable and interact with other integrations like booking your stay and including a “tips for locals” blog section of the site. All around, we created digital assets for Amana Colonies’ to be more than a boring directory. These assets form a digital experience for website viewers that converts them into Amana visitors..
Here at Running Robots, we have had the opportunity to work alongside members of the Amana Colonies to…
Develop a member directory website design
Organize event management, QR code ticketing and calendars
Make event registration easier
Sell items via e-commerce cart
Develop website advertisement sales and placements
Develop an event aggregator to other local Amana businesses
Content curation (blog, visitor’s guide, map, and guided tour app)
More Screenshots of Software in Use
Before vs. After
2018 vs. 2019
Our relationship with Amana Colonies has increased throughout the time we worked with them. Our partnership has been dependent on each other to complete several goals including the website redesign, gathering content, and going through the Running Robots’ phase process.
We worked closely with David Rettig, Executive Director of Amana Colonies, and Cassidy Bringle throughout this process and have created a strong, collaborative relationship with each of them.
I have worked closely with Running Robots on a website launch project. First I want to say they are personal and professional. They have the skills and knowledge to complete the project as well as assist & help along the way. They are so responsive and willing to go out of their way to help. Use them! Couldn’t say enough good things.
My experience with Running Robots was fantastic! We hired them to update and redesign the website for the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau and to combine it with our sister non-profit Amana Colonies Festivals Inc. This was a huge task as they both serve the same market but yet different elements of the market.
We Are Most Proud of…
We are most proud of giving Amana Colonies the look and feel that the town deserves. A website that shows off all the great features of the Amana Colonies and gives people insight into the businesses and humans that make it up; all while allowing the Amana Colonies Convention and Business Bureau’s team the ability to update the site in an easy and simple fashion.