It’s been a busy 6 months here at the ‘Lab: We launched our website, landed our first Fortune 500 client, delivered a half-dozen projects and signed a half-dozen more deals. OA couple of our newest clients – the owners a 70-acre luxury ranch in Montana – flew us out to beautiful Kalispell to work onsite for a week.
We had two major objectives to meet while we were there: to construct a wiki to aid in the ranch’s internal operations and to begin the research and content planning for the ranch’s new website. But first, to give you some perspective on the scope of this project, some key details:
- The ranch sits on almost 70 acres in the foothills of the Swan Mountain Range in northwest Montana.
- The property features a 17,000 square foot main lodge and 4 guest houses, sleeping 34 people total.
- The main lodge has 5 bedrooms, a steam shower, parlor, billiard room, card room, bar, 23-seat home theater, a 27-foot high stone fireplace, 12 person dining room, a library and a carriage house.
- The 4 Alpine-inspired guest houses accommodate another 24 people, and come equipped with full kitchens, satellite tv and WiFi.
- The property also includes horse stables, a duck pond and a closed circuit camera system.
- Google Calendar integration to keep management aware of both scheduled maintenance and upcoming events.
- A “How-To” section, organized by location on the property and including PDFs of manuals.
- A vendor list, sortable by service provided and linkable to each vendor’s profile in Highrise.
- A Routine Maintenance section, sortable by frequency, so that property managers can easily see upcoming required services and check off to-dos as completed.
The bulk of the content planning for the website was in accounting for and researching the many unique facets of the house, including the Norwegian Dragon Style architecture of the main lodge and the specifics of the Theo Kalomirakis-designed home theater. Targeting both large groups and a luxury-minded audience, we were careful to account for various high-end brand names featured around the house as well as the details of each guest house’s accommodations.
Our content gathering included interviewing the ranch owners about nearly every technical and aesthetic aspect of the property, poring through an abundance of secondary source material (the ranch has been featured in numerous publications) and taking dozens of photographs in and around the houses and property. Oh, and to give us the full picture of what life is like on the ranch, our hosts treated us to an incredible night of tobogganing and snowmobiling, followed by a feast of grilled elk, antelope and venison prepared by the ranch’s neighbors. Someone’s gotta do the research, right?
In the end, it was a highly productive, awe-inspiring week. The management wiki is steadily increasing efficiency around the ranch and the content brief and research documents gave us a solid starting point for the site’s design. Now we’re busy at work on avalancheranchestate.com and, um, actively seeking clients in Hawaii.