Toscana Mia

Paola e Simonetta de' Mari are two sisters who have worked in tourism for more than 20 years. They have transformed their family house in Chianti to a cooking schooldesigned for food lovers. People come from all over the world to learn cooking.

Where we started from

The previous website was built in the early 2000s, long before web 2.0 and dynamic content concepts were introduced. It was a showcase website, pages were static and they were not designed to interact with customers.

When internet transformed, our customer decided to go with the new mode of communications to provide more real-time and live communication to the travellers about their venture through new web tools, blogs, and social  networks in particular. So, to recount the daily life of their cooking school, Paola and Simonetta started blogging and asked us to converge these new contents in the website.

Customer requests

Our customer’s request was to redefine the communication channels. One consistent problem was the redundancy of information that developed over the years. The "multichannel" communication had resulted in a proliferation of messages and a considerable dispersion of news. Not all the instruments were linked together and some of them were difficult to integrate within the website.

This lead the potential customers to look for information for a commercial offer and packages from different sources and then understand what one of these packages contained. At the same time, the features of the touristic offer changed. Thus, the Toscana Mia website was not corresponding to their actual offer

We were asked to (re)design asimple website, which would express their identity. In particular, the website has to convey to web surfers the familiar approach used by Paola and Simonetta, in welcoming their guests

Our customers didn't want a product made of complicated features, such as on line booking, because they prefer to interact with their visitors directly via email. Mail has been chosen as primary tool to manage bookings because of its simplicity and ability to communicate directly; through which the services offered are conveyed.

The project, from a graphic point of view, had a certain degree of freedom as the customers were opened to dialogue, discussion and interaction. The only specific requirement was to create a graphic which would convey awarm and reassuring image.

The project we proposed

Thanks to the long relationship with our customers, we already knew what their business consists of. Bearing in mind this insider’s view we were able to create a custom made project which included, besides the website, the creation of an internal blogand a wide range of coaching activities in web marketing and content area.

The fundamental goalwas to create linear navigation paths, in order to help web surfer consult the touristic offer easily. This meant to create a clean andintuitive menu, consisting of few items and “product details” pages, which would describe the features of tourist’s packages.

The internal blogis not a simple adjunct, but it contributes to enhance the website. The tool is useful for different purposes. Through it, in fact, Paola and Simonetta can share information about their commercial offer as well as showcase what visitors could expect in their cooking school.

Moreover, the continuous production of contents facilitates the placement on search engines.

To create the website and the blogwe used Django platform, within which we included specific applications. We used django CMS, which allows to manage easily dynamic contents. To build the blog we employed a specific application created by Nephila that makes part of Komaci package. Django is an agile platform, which provides access to the contents through an intuitive dashboard, which can be used also by non-experts. We provided our customers access keys in order to allow them to change all the contents independently.

What did we do

Before working on the website architecture it was fundamental to organise the existing information about the touristic offer, that which had to be classified using different criteria. We involved Paola and Simonetta in the content creation. We convinced them to classify the themes of the cooking classes. Following this, we urged them to pen down the features of the cooking classes.

The goal was to avoid intermediate pages. When a visitor clicks on the menu item, he/she has to reach the desired cooking class page (or package page). To build the menu required lot of focus, as the whole cooking school offer has to be visible starting from the first click. In some cases this has imposed a compromise (for example, the presentation of similar packages, with different accommodations).

The second fundamental element was the “product detail” page of each class or package that our designer structured like a landing page. When a potential customer accesses the page, he/she would first find a bullet points list which summarizes the features of the offer and then a more detailed description. If the visitor is intrigued, he/she can take a look at the gallery and conclude his/ her navigation with the call to action (ie sending an email to obtain more information).

The website graphics inspired by the old handwritten cookbooks respects the style of the menu: through its neatness it's able to communicate the fresh and lively character of the cooking school. The delicate colour palette, composed by soft colours, reflects the Tuscan landscapes and countryside.

Once the layout, the menu and the sitemap were decided, we planned with the customer a series of skype call conferences in order to teach them how to use the platform. Moreover, we had to decide together a useful editorial plan for the blog. We not only transferred basic technical skills, but we tried to convey important notions of web marketing, such as how to write Google oriented texts and how to use the Web Analysis tools.

Initially, with the help of a native English speaker, we reviewed the contents both by linguistic and expressive points of view. After the first activity, the daily management of on line activity passed to Paola and Simonetta, who could communicate to their public with their style, characterized by natural and spontaneous flavour.