Stand Alone Website or Using the Chamber Website?

When it comes to building a town website, one common question that often arises is, “Do we need a standalone website or can we use the chamber of commerce website?”

While on the surface, using the chamber site for your town website may sound like a good idea –there are a number of reasons that we don’t recommend that you piggyback your town website on the chamber website. These two websites are very different, and are designed for two different types of visitors.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you may want to consider a town website in addition to your chamber site.

  • Different Websites
    Chamber websites are built with a focus on marketing, and designed with the purpose of giving potential visitors information that will encourage them to visit. Municipal sites are built for clerks, and designed to provide town information to town residents.
  • Different Target Audiences
    Chamber websites are for tourists and for promoting local businesses while municipal sites are for residents. Both are marketed to two completely different audiences and are built for different purposes. Because of this, the layout and information contained in the websites will be different.
  • Different Focus
    Municipal sites are focused on content, ordinances, meeting minutes –not things that tourists are generally interested in. The focus of chamber websites though, is to essentially advertise the town, and to provide interesting facts about the town to tourists and potential visitors.

Chamber Site

A chamber site is designed to promote the town and local businesses to out-of-town visitors or tourists. Visitors to a chamber site are primarily tourists who are interested in the area, the local businesses, and other interesting facts about the town or city. Chamber sites are generally packed full of information that many out-of-town visitors will be interested in, but things that most residents are already aware of. This includes facts about the town, highlights, must-sees, and history surrounding the area.

Chamber sites generally include links to local businesses, including maps and other information that out-of-towners might be interested in, and also offer helpful information that can make their stay more enjoyable. One of the goals of a chamber website is also to recruit more paid members from local businesses. This is all great information however, it is not the type information that town residents would be looking for.

In short, a chamber site serves as a promotional website; an informational directory that provides information on local businesses.

Municipal Site

A municipal site is geared towards the local town residents. Its purpose is to provide town residents with relevant information. Its main purpose is to provide more transparency for open government and to facilitate the publication of municipal activities and information.

A municipal site will have relevant official town business such as: meeting minutes, agenda, news, notices, ordinances, voting information, and forms and permits. Again, all of this is great information –for locals, but not something a tourist would be interested in.

It is quite good to have both a municipal site and a chamber site. They can link to each other, but, in fact, they serve two different audiences and provide two different types of content.

To combine the two would make challenging for both the locals and tourists to find relevant information. For example, it would be a challenge for a tourist to sort through information about a local board meeting –and could potentially even turn them away from the idea of visiting the town.

Keeping your chamber site separate enables you to market your website to the right audience, allowing you to keep both tourist and visitor information, and information that’s relevant to town residents separate.

For more information on website design for towns and municipalities, visit Town Web Design today.

Image: Sean MacEntee

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