Web Sites Honored

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

August 29, 1996

UW-RF Web Sites Recognized for Excellence

The cyberspace presence two UW-River Falls projects-the Scenic St. Croix Valley and Falcon Athletics-have been the recent recipient of plaudits and recognition for the value of their information and graphic design.

The St. Croix Valley site is a cooperative project of the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance, which includes 19 communities in the counties of Pierce, Polk and St. Croix in Wisconsin, and Dakota, Washington and Chisago counties in Minnesota.

Chamber and Business Association presidents and executive directors played a critical role in gathering the information listed on the Web site, according to Mark Kinders, SCVRTA marketing chair, and public affairs director at UW-River Falls.

"These community leaders first had the foresight to form what everyone in the tourism and hospitality industry tells us is unique because of its true collaboration between communities and its bi-state approach. And they have been recognized for their continued, remarkable insight in anticipating and widely sharing the kind of information that visitors want to know," added Sheryl E-Marshall, Alliance president.

The web site, which was built and hosted by UW-River Falls, features a searchable index of Valley resources, including lodging, campgrounds, retail establishments, boat and train tours, marinas and boat ramps, and more. It also provides community descriptions, an index of businesses and attractions, including on-line links, and a continuously updated calendar of events.

The directory reached into numerous departments at UW-River Falls, according to Kinders. He noted that information was gathered through a nine-month project initiated by Professor David Trechter and Linda Jacobson of the Cooperative Development Initiative in the Rural Development Institute. The CDI project assisted the tourism alliance in strategic planning and marketing, and provided the funding to print the 120-page "Ask Us" directory.

UW-RF Webmaster Marlys Nelson, with the assistance of student intern Mavis Gustafson, a Dennison, Minn., business administration senior, then translated the "Ask Us" into a searchable index on the Web. It was premiered during a presentation for Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson on July 31.

Those efforts led to the tourism page selection as a "Best of the USA" site by JT Freelancing, a Wisconsin consulting firm. In addition to being carried in its index in the Wisconsin and Minnesota Web Site directories, the Scenic St. Croix Valley page was chosen as one of two "Excellent Site" designees for the state of Minnesota. Just 100 sites from across the United States will be included in that category.

The JT Site describes the "Best in the USA" pages as "a comprehensive, geographic listing of each state's best web pages" that are "chosen based on creative design as well as content benefiting their state."

The site also earned a favorable review from Bill Geist of Zeitgeist Consulting in Wisconsin. Geist, who represented the state of Wisconsin to the White House Conference on Tourism and has twice served as president of the Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau Association, consults widely to the tourism and hospitality industry throughout the Midwest.

The Scenic St. Croix Valley was listed by Geist as one of his nine "fave sites," that includes the sites built by the state tourism offices for Minnesota, Illinois, California, as well as sites for the Florida Keys, Anaheim/Orange County, Door County, and the maps category of the international Web Search Engine, Yahoo!

In his listings, Geist noted that: "Zeitgeist surfs a lot, searching for sites to feature in Bill Geist's presentations on Technology and the Internet. For those of us that are out there a lot, we know that there are a lot of sites that simply exist without a clear purpose. Zeitgeist highlights the sites that 'get it.' From a great raison d'etre to cutting edge visuals and features, here are some of our current faves."

Geist cited the fact that the Scenic St. Croix Valley site is unusual because of its bi-state collaboration and its "good use of search functions to produce information that is customized to (a visitor's) every desire."

The Falcon Athletics page also was selected for a "Best in the USA" award and is indexed in the Wisconsin section. It's rated one of the best sites in Wisconsin, along with Harley-Davidson, the Wisconsin Golf Page, the Green Bay Packers, and Marquette University.

Playing a major role in creating and maintaining that Web site is sports information intern Brett Longdin, a journalism senior from Sussex, Wis.

"Brett Longdin's work on the Falcons athletic department web site was crucial to its success," said Jim Thies, UW-RF sports information director. "He experimented with several formats and observed other sites. With each new try he came up with something better than before. Now it is recognized as one of the best. In all, several students within the sports information office also contributed to the site, which keeps Falcons athletics at the top of cyberspace technology."

The Falcon Athletics page has developed into one of the most popular sites at UW-RF. It features game recaps, features, statistics, team rosters, photos and other information about all varsity teams.

The Best in the USA listings can be found at: http://members.aol.com/jt598/USA/index.html

Zeitgeist's listing can be found at: http://www.zgeist.com/links

The Scenic St. Croix Valley page can be found at: http://www.uwrf.edu/scvrta/

Falcon Athletics can be found at: http://www.uwrf.edu/sports/

The Scenic St. Croix Valley and Falcon Athletics pages also are designated as Web "Hotsites" by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

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