First Impressions

By Chris Davis

In the movie Jerry McGuire, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character Rod Tidwell wants Jerry to show him the money! When new families visit a camp website, they want to see the photos!

 Parents want to see kids really looking happy, the facilities, campers interacting with counselors, and action shots of activities and sports.

Here are three important ideas about photos you can use to make a good first impression with new families on a website:

1. Make photos easy to find.
You might not believe it, but I have a difficult time finding a photo gallery on many camp websites. There is either no photo gallery (which is not good), or it’s tough to find it, even though I am specifically looking for it.

You must have a photo gallery on the website. Parents want to see photos, so it’s imperative to include them.

Make the photo gallery easy to find. Put a big, visible button on the home page that links to the photos. Then put a big, visible button for the photos on every interior page as well, or at least provide a prominent link in the header of the website. Create a clear name, like “Photo Gallery” or “View Our Photos.”

2. Select superior photos (and leave the not-so-good ones out).
This sounds like common sense, but it’s not common practice. Many camp websites display photos of kids who look only moderately entertained or even bored, counselors who appear indifferent or detached, photos of mostly girls even though a camp is co-ed, etc.

Take some time to think about which photos best represent the experience of the camp. Ask a few of the campers’ parents:

  • What types of photos do you look for when you visit a camp website?
  • What types of photos make you feel good about a camp?
  • What types make you feel uncomfortable about a camp?

    3. Showcase photos so they emotionally engage new families.
    While some camps do a good job of making it easy for people to find photos on the website, and others do a good job of selecting photos that accurately represent the positive camp experience, they drop the ball when it comes to how those photos are displayed.

There are a number of reasons a photo gallery may not be effective:

  • It looks outdated.
  • It’s confusing or annoying to use.
  • It is so small that even the best photos are difficult to see.
  • It provokes no emotional reaction or engagement from parents.

Use a full-screen photo gallery that makes the pictures larger than life and fully engaging. Here are a few examples to check out:

http://www.campwalt.com/gallery/index.php

http://campmuskoka.com/photo-gallery/

http://www.maplewoodyearround.com/gallery/

Get A Full-Screen Gallery
4. Create a free account on Elance.com (www.elance.com). Post a new project notifying potential developers that you have a camp website and want to add a full-screen photo gallery. Indicate you are looking for a web developer who can find the right full-screen photo gallery plugin and then install it on the website. After posting the project, developers will bid, and you select the one that looks best to you.

5. Search Google for a “full-screen photo gallery.” There are several good plugins to purchase (some are free) and that can be installed on a site. You can either show these links to the developer you selected or have the developer find plugins to show you.

6. Have the web developer provide advice on which full-screen photo gallery plugin is right for the website and then install it, showing you how to change the photos as needed.

However you achieve this, make sure the photos on the website are big, bold, beautiful, and emotionally engaging for new parents and campers. They want to see photos, so do it in a powerful, impactful way. Soon you’ll have more potential parents and campers who have learned great things about your camp!

Chris Davis is the owner of DVS Camp Websites. Download his free report “5 Ways Your Website Is Costing You New Campers” at www.northstarpubs.com/577 or email him at chriscb@dvscampwebsites.com.