Interview: Kate Bortell of KB Website Design
The modern wedding has many moving parts and events!. Instead of sending all of your guests multiple emails, letters, Facebook events and phone calls – you can have all the information readily available on a wedding website.
A wedding website is especially important for destination weddings, when your guests are completely unfamiliar with the area and what there is all to offer! Kate Bortell of KB Website Design is the perfect local source for your wedding website. Not only does she have the skill and knowledge, but she has the local connection to add that extra touch if you are not from the Bayfield area.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and KB Website Design.
I had a 25+ year career in information technology in the Chicago area. I worked on some great projects, but I got tired of the traffic and the noise and the emphasis on getting and possessing. I wanted to be in a place of great natural beauty, and to surround myself with people who are in tune with the spirit of nature.
I have always tried to use my creative talents in business, and I got a wonderful opportunity when luck made it possible for me to help the Madeline Island School of the Arts get started. In that position I learned a lot about this area and its people, and I decided that this was the place I wanted to be. Since then I’ve shared area information with visitors while working at the Madeline Island Ferry Line Information Station and at the Madeline Island Museum.
I was looking for a way to use my creative and business talents, and also make a contribution to this wonderful community. In 2012, the La Pointe Center for the Arts on Madeline Island gave me a grant to study website creation from a design point of view. That opportunity got me back into catching up on the most recent technology, and I realized that I could use my technical skills and my creativity to help people in this community realize their dreams. Voila! This consulting business was born.
When did you begin designing websites for weddings?
I began designing websites in the Chequamegon Bay Region two years ago, when I realized that was the best way I could be helpful in the region while giving clients the benefit of my broad technical and design experience.
What is included in your wedding website service?
I begin my website service with a personal, no-charge, consultation in order to find out exactly what my client is looking for, and to offer suggestions from my experience. I create my proposal to the client from that conversation. I can do anything from setting up the “page framework” and “look and feel” so the somewhat “tech-savvy” client can fill in the content, while still having me do the extras that make sure the website is professional-looking and has the SEO to be “found” in searches — or I can do the whole shebang with the client supplying text and photos, and leaving the rest to me so they can get on with the other wedding plans.
What are some of the key components you like to include in the wedding websites you design?
It’s always fun to start the website with the engagement announcement and/or Save The Date. The website can be short-term, lasting only through the actual wedding, or can be continued any way the client wants with a little foresight — use it as a blog from the honeymoon, keep track of the relationship over time, including jobs, children, lifetime events, etc., or turn it into a business website when that develops along the way…
While planning the wedding, use the website to give guests and other interested parties information about the wedding location, the events along the way like showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal, reception, etc. Include event times, maps, lodging/dining/entertainment possibilities, and other information like the gift registry information, wish list, etc. You can also collect information using forms, and it can even go into special spreadsheets (menu choices? lodging choices? etc.) — or collect emails for people who want to receive an update newsletter!
A wedding website is especially helpful for destination weddings, where there’s lots of info to hand out — my daughter got married in Hawaii, and we spent a lot of time giving her guests all the information they needed to make their attendance/vacation fun for the several days they were there! You can even include an actual calendar (guests can easily click and add events to their Google or Apple online calendar) and a blog, and push calendar/blog entries to Facebook, Twitter and other social media! And if you only want to share information with guests, you can use a cover page with essential information, and give guests a password to enter the site or certain parts of the site. Just think of the possibilities!
What is a common misconception brides make about your service?
Don’t make the mistake of using one of the free website builders — with their tacky advertising and minimal SEO and other services — a beautiful, professional website with all the bells and whistles is not that expensive, and will look so much better to your guests. Monthly hosting fees are possible, so you can drop the site after the wedding if you want. And make sure the website will be mobile and iPad friendly — guests love to be able to do that last-minute address verification via their smartphone. Don’t put it off! It can start small and grow as your plans grow, too, if you want.
How far in advance do you recommend brides hire you to design their website? How long does it typically take to design wedding websites?
I recommend starting the website design at the very beginning. It usually takes only a couple of weeks to get it out there, if all the text and beautiful pictures are on hand, and it can grow as things progress.
Are there any recommendations you have for brides regarding wedding websites?
Be sure your website is just as beautiful as your wedding — use your wedding colors and theme for your website, too. Pictures tell the story better than words — keep the text minimal, clear and concise — use links so you don’t have to repeat info already out there on the web — and include lots of quality, theme-related photos. I have used good iPhone photos on websites, but if you have professional photos done, be sure to use them. It’s the photographer and the camera that make all the difference!