It’s easy to become so focused on the animals and exhibits at your zoo that you forget they are not the only important part of your business. You need to make sure that you are informing visitors of not only what animals you have on-site, but also how to reach your park, how much it will cost to visit, and what activities you have to participate in. A well built website can provide a place to organize all of that information for visitors to access. Aside from fun graphics and an easy to use interface, here are seven things every best in class zoo website should include.
One of the first things that people will look for on your website are the times and days they can visit the zoo. You can place this information in a sidebar on the Home page, or create a page specifically for it. Include weekday, weekend, and holiday hours (if any). If you have different hours for different seasons, be sure to mention that. You don’t want visitors showing up to find the park closed. They may not be willing to return after that.
Along with the hours you are open for business, you should also list out the admission prices. If rates differ for children, adults, seniors, and students, be sure to explain that. If you offer discounts for military families or for large groups, include that information as well. You can also post information about special admission rates, discount days, and annual passes on the Admission Information page.
Most zoos have hundreds of animals, so no one expects you to include every single one on your website. But you do want to give visitors an idea of what they will see at the park. Divide the animals up by geographical location, species, or location in the zoo. Then feature pictures and information about some of the most popular animals from those areas.
It’s also a good idea to include some of your unique and special animals on this page. If you have some that are critically endangered in the wild and are part of conservation breeding programs, post about them. If you have animals that no other zoo in the world has, include them as well. You want visitors to this page to get excited about coming to see all of the familiar and not-so-familiar animals you have.
Events and Activities
Holding special events throughout the year is a great way to get visitors to your zoo. People who need a specific reason to visit the park will be more likely to do so if they know you are holding an animal birthday party or celebrating a zoo anniversary or having discounted admission days. Create a page on your site that includes the upcoming special events as well as the regular activities.
Having a calendar of events where visitors can see everything upcoming can help them decide if they want to buy annual admission passes. If there are multiple events on the calendar they want to participate in, they’ll consider it a good deal to buy one expensive pass instead of a bunch of cheaper ones (that will certainly add up over time).
Including daily and weekly activities is also a great idea. Some people like to plan out their visits to the zoo. If they know what time animal shows, feeding demonstrations, and animal meet-and-greets are, they can organize their visit around those. They may not be able to do everything on their activity schedule, but they’ll have a place to start off from.
Your site should have a page to introduce the people that make up your zoo workforce. Of course, if you have more than a few dozen employees this could become unwieldy. In such a case you should include all of the top people in the zoo hierarchy, such as the head curators, keepers, and veterinarians. You should also include employees that have been with your zoo for a long period of time, or those that have won zoological awards or special recognition.
Aside from posting an employee picture, name, and job title, you should describe what each position does on a regular basis. Many visitors will have no idea how a zoo functions or what the staff they see on the grounds do. They’ll be interested to find out what kinds of positions there are and how each one serves to keep the zoo operating.
Thank Yous to Sponsors and Donors
It takes a lot of people and a lot of money to keep a zoo operating well. While it would be great if exhibits could be built and animals taken care of on just the sales of admission tickets, that isn’t usually possible. Most zoos rely on donations from visitors and local businesses, as well as sponsorships, to keep the park gates open.
You need to create a page on your website where you thank the people that have helped out with money, supplies, and volunteer work. Express your gratitude for their assistance and show how much you appreciate them. List out regular donors who provide money on a frequent basis or have donated a larger than normal amount. Include logos and links to sponsor businesses. It doesn’t take much to give back to the ones that have given to you and your park.
A zoo needs to do more than just participate in conservation efforts. They need to inform the public on those efforts as well. By educating site visitors on the programs at your zoo, you are giving them a chance to care about the conservation of animals and the world around them.
Create a page where you give the details on the programs that are going on at your zoo. List out why they are necessary and what they are meant to accomplish. Be sure to include stories of your successes as well as overall successes of the program. And then give visitors information on how they can help, such as donating, volunteering, or working to educate others.
Location and Directions
This information can be placed on the same page as Admission Information. You need to make sure your full physical address is easy to find. If you can, include a map of the area or details about what is around the zoo. You want it to be simple to go to your location, so visitors will want to come back again and again.
If you have certain entrances open at certain times of year, or if your parking lot can only accommodate economy size cars, or if there is construction going on in the street leading up to your park, you need to explain that on this page. You don’t want visitors to find unpleasant surprises when they arrive. This could discourage them from coming back. Like everything else included on your website, this information is an important way to communicate with your visitors and help them plan the best trip possible to your zoo.