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Do you have a zoo, animal collection, botanical garden or natural history museum?
Do you want a website but dont know where to start?
If any of these statements apply here are some idea's you might want to incorporate in your website design.
How to get there
This is an essential section on your website. It tells potential visitors how to visit your zoo. You should include detailed instructions of how to get to your zoo by car, bus and rail. Remember to include details of car parking, bus routes and rail times or a link to a site that provides this information.
Essential section. (can be combined see great idea number 1)
Essential Section. Dont forget to include all facilities that you offer. For instance, toilets, cafe's, kiosk's, gift shops, baby changing facilities, lockers, facilities for children and the disabled. Also include information on restrictions such as no pets allowed no feeding the animals.
Essential section. Include full and up to date information on your admission charges and special deals such as season ticket schemes.
Essential section. You should provide a map of your zoo.
Optional section. Dont forget to use your website to promote any fundraising schemes you offer such as animal adoption.
Optional section. This is an important function of any zoo and good PR. If you have an education policy state it and what what you hope to achieve with it. Include any educational aids available, details for school visit's, whether a speaker is available.
Optional section. Another very important function of any zoo. State your conservation policy. Include any initiatives your zoo is involved in. Give details of the endangered species in your zoo and any breeding successes.
Optional section. If you offer any value added experiences such as sealion shows or the like give full details here. If additional charges apply make sure you give details of these also. (Can be combined see great idea number 1)
Optional Section. If you have specific feeding times for animals give details here. Remember feeding times are very popular with your visitors not just your animals. Let them plan their visit to include feeding times if they wish. Don't let them go home feeling cheated because they missed the chimps at lunch. (can be combined see great idea number 1)
Essential section. You should try to be a relationship with your visitors and try to keep them coming back. Let them know of any new developments in the zoo. Don't forget to include births, new cages, new arrivals and even departures whether by transfer to another zoo or death. Give your visitors the information they need to know to decide if they want to make a return visit.
Optional section. Rather than spending money advertising job vacanicies in your local paper advertise them on your web site. People who would like to work in a zoo will be enthusiasts who will probably be visiting your website anyway. Don't forget to use the free jobs section on this website.
Optional section. All websites should have a links section. Firstly the more sites that link to your site the more free visitors your site will receive and it will increase your ranking with a number of search engines. You are more likely to get sites linking to you if you offer a reciprocal link. Also you want to offer your website visitors a better surfing experience by allowing them to continue browsing related sites without having to re search the web. To boost internet traffic to your site- join the Zoo UK webring. To see the webring navigation bar and sign up check the homepage.
Optional section. If you maintain a free e-mail mailing list you can keep in touch with your visitors and supporters free of charge. This is free advertising. Things you can include in your e-zine are zoo news, details of appeals, changes in prices and special offers. For a more flexible alternative with little effort and a built in member list consider instead joining the already established UK Zoo mailing list and add a box like the one below to your site:
Optional. Guestbooks are used to get feedback on your website. Is it working, what's good about it, what's not working. The best way of improving your website is to listen to the feedback from your visitors and incorporate the best idea's.
Visitors interested in zoos like to see where the money comes and goes. It helps them to appreciate how expensive running a zoo can be and encourages them to support you through fund raising. In many zoos they show this information on boards throughout the zoo and you should show it on your website.
Forum/ Message Board
Optional. Forums can be very useful to get feedback and encourage interest and questions in Zoology matters. They are therefore a good way of educating the public. The prime benefit for Zoos however is that they can reduce the maintenance time associated with running a website. For instance, you could deflect all manner of enquiries to the forum on subjects such as animal welfare, facts about animals etc and this would reduce the amount of time you need to spend answering these enquiries. To get the maximum benefit from a forum however it needs to be on as many sites as possible. Although it is very easy to set up your own forum it is actually more beneficial just to add an existing forum to your site. The following free forum has few restrictions and you can customise your forum however you like. I would therefore recommend that you add it to your site. All you have to do is have a one line link.
Add this free Zoo Forum to your site.
Great Ideas Hints and tips
Daily Recommended times
This is a great idea used on the Banham zoo site. It presents a timetable for you to make the most of your day. You could combine the following sections into one- opening and closing times, shows and feeding. To see how this looks see colchester zoo
2. Amalgamated Forum
Although it is possible to set up your own forum 2 problems you will probably encounter are lack of use and time needed to maintain answers. The best and simplest way is to use the following Zoo forum which can easily be customised to your own requirements and will appear on several other similar sites. Add this free Zoo Forum to your site.
3. Amalgamated Mailing List
Similar to the Forum it can be easier and more flexible to join an existng mailing list. You can then just post messages or reply to questions at your convenience.
Setting up your first website can be quite daunting but is surprisingly easy and all the tools I have mentioned above are available free on the net. For more idea's on building your site, finding out where to get these free tools, free webspace or promoting your website visit my other website computerfacts. Alternatively you can contact me by e-mail.
If you have any good idea's on how to improve zoo websites why not post them in the zoo forum. If any prove particularly popular I will include them on this page under general hints and tips.
Last Updated 07/09/2003
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