By Catalina Righter
On Jan. 15, Chestertown launched a revamped website at townofchestertown.com. The website was updated as part of a push by the Chestertown Town Council to bring a large and modern digital presence to the small historic town.
The website features a banner with an aerial view of Chestertown and greets visitors with the phrase, “Welcome to Historic Chestertown. Where arts, education, and the environment meet.” It prominently features a calendar of events and a local business directory.
Sam Shoge, who serves as both assistant director of admissions at Washington College and councilman for the 3rd Ward on the Town Council, made it his priority to see the website through. “Projects like the one I undertook with the website typically take a member on the council to strongly advocate for them before they make any progress moving forward,” he said.
He wrote in his Facebook announcement of the new website, “I campaigned on increasing Chestertown’s exposure in the digital realm and I am pleased to say I delivered on that.”
The new website was created by Moo Productions’ Francoise Sullivan, a local who has designed many other websites for Chestertown organizations such as the Sultana’s website. She received the contract during a Town Council meeting on Monday, July 7, according to an article in The Chestertown Spy. She was chosen over 20 other bids for the contract.
The process of hiring the contractor started with a Request for Proposal (RFP) where the Town Council “defined the general features and functions we wanted from a new website and laid out a vision for how we wanted to utilize those features,” said Shoge. They solicited bids from contractors, and Sullivan’s was chosen.
Shoge said, “Moo Productions was the perfect choice. While they were not the least expensive bid, they did garner the most marks on the list [of criteria in the RFP] by a wide margin.” The Council wanted social media to be integrated into the site and managed by the site’s contractor, so Sullivan’s first-hand experience with local events, like Downrigging Weekend, was a strong mark in her favor. Shoge had also previously admired her design skills and said her design of the Sultana’s website was a model he used when envisioning the new town site.
Since its launch, the Chestertown site has been a source of pride. “I compiled a list of website awards I want to apply for, and that will be a project I work on with Moo Productions so we can be recognized,” said Shoge.
For the future, “We plan on aggressively utilizing Facebook and Instagram and will explore other social media sites such as Pinterest,” he said. “We also want to create deals and packages that visitors can purchase through sites like Groupon and Living Social.”
Keeping Chestertown vital through a social media presence cannot be a project of the municipal government alone. Shoge said, “Ensuring that our popular businesses have Facebook pages and current profiles in Yelp and Trip Advisor will be a main priority in addition to being searchable on Google Maps.”
This is not the extent of Chestertown’s digital perk up. “The new website represents just the beginning,” said Shoge. “I am currently assembling a marketing team that will be tasked with utilizing the webpage to its fullest extent and incorporating other platforms to market this vibrant community.”
“It will be a collaboration between the College, county, and town as the Associate Vice President for College Relations and Marketing Mike O’Conner will be on it in addition to the County Tourism Director Bernadette Bowman and other residents who have marketing and advertising experience.”
“I am beyond excited with the finished product. We have the best website out of any town here on the Eastern Shore and arguably, the entire state of Maryland,” Shoge said.
To contact Councilman Shoge email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.