Over our 10+ year journey, we have had the privilege of supporting thousands of online businesses owners and communities get their message out to the world. We discovered that many of our customers had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share that could be of value to our larger audience. We felt compelled to contribute to their journey of growth in some way and that is how the idea for this interview series was born.
Greenbriar Oceanaire by Dave Bonynge (using the Directory theme)
Our guest today has worn many different hats across a professional career of more than 43 years. Dave Bonynge is a former banker, realtor and most recently handled software marketing at Suburban Guides Inc, a company he helped co-found. He is also the author of 4 books on everyday home automation hacks. Dave and his wife Kathy live in the Township of Ocean (Waretown), NJ and have two daughters.
He currently manages www.mygocc.com , an online portal for Greenbriar Oceanaire (GO), a premier lifestyle community where he puts his many skills to good use in helping people discover and participate in events around the neighbourhood.
We talked about:
- Why Dave recommended WordPress when he was approached for advice on a mobile-friendly and scalable solution to manage the GO website
- How town websites play a vital role in promoting local businesses in terms of SEO
- What made Dave choose the theme and plugins that he did
Templatic: With a resume like yours, we’re sure that your community is quite happy with their new website. When did you decide GO needed a new one? What made you choose WordPress?
Dave: Why, thank you! We discovered that the old website had gotten slow with time in terms of page loading speed. It wasn’t mobile-ready either which made for a poor user experience. There was also concern about the site security aspect and since we planned to offer local businesses the opportunity to list on our site, we decided on a new website that had built-in payments functionality.
When we started building the new site in January this year, we felt WordPress with Templatic Directory 2.0 theme would offer the best mix of features and scalability for the investment we were making.
Well, I’ve been using WordPress for about 6 years now and have always been impressed with the breadth of options it makes possible for a marketer.
Templatic: What did you like best about it? Is there something you dislike about WordPress?
Dave: As I said, I’ve used WordPress since my time at SuburbanGuides.com, a business that specialized in building town websites. I think it has a great way of displaying community events, not least because it has a whole business advertising platform built right into the theme. WordPress has some amazing themes and versatile plugins, all of which adds up to give you tremendous flexibility in terms of form and function. To me, that means a much lower probability of getting stuck down the road.
If there’s one thing I dislike about WordPress, it is this: it creates so many potential opportunities that it is easy for me to be side-tracked.
Templatic: That’s interesting! What are 3 good websites/resources you’d recommend for someone to learn how to build websites for WordPress?
Dave: If you’re a beginner, I’d suggest that you go with wpbeginner.com and WordPress.org. If you want to figure out how to use a Templatic theme or plugin, then Templatic.com has all the information you’ll ever need. There are other resources available too that are worth taking a look at. The possibilities are endless.
Templatic: How long does it take you to go from “idea” to “complete website”? Where do you source your graphics from? Have you used or found Gutenberg blocks useful?
Dave: To tell you the truth, time is relative to the project I’m working on at any given point. Efficiency is important to me and with the increasing complexity of websites these days, tools like WordPress plugins allow me to get things done quickly.
For my graphics, I mostly choose local photographers. On occasion, I also use Pixabay.com and try to use free stock images.
On the GO project, I chose to use the “classic” WordPress editor. I thought the project demanded it.
I am working with a “website committee” of about 10 people – who basically report on the clubs and committees of my community – and will be closely involved in adding information in a structured format for this website. Using the Classic Editor as a base (with Templatic’s theme capabilities) is a much better way to ensure ease of use and minimize problems down the line. Personally though, I find Gutenberg block quite easy to work with.
Templatic: What is your current traffic like?
Dave: Well, the current site is quite active as it serves more than 1425 homes around the community, that’s probably about 2500 people. That number goes up considerably when you consider the approximately 75 clubs and committees that are also a part of our community.
We’d like our site to offer business advertising opportunities to local restaurants, retailers and service businesses eventually. Using Templatic’s Directory 2.0 theme made perfect sense to me for this reason. It is tailor-made for advertising – and even has payment support for users.
Our new website will offer a range of capabilities that will help us take our engagement to the next level.
Templatic: How do you promote your website?
Dave: It’s mostly word-of-mouth. We have a very busy schedule with events such as golf, tennis, etc. in our clubhouse and around our property. Our members are very enthusiastic about all types of events and programs. They follow the website for the latest updates too.
Templatic: What about SEO? Do you utilize it?
Dave: Absolutely! Our community supports the idea of local companies advertising on our site and SEO plays a big part in helping them rank better relative to their competition on Google. I have been an advocate of SEO since my time at Suburban Guides where we built and marketed town websites. The rationale is simple: many of the local advertisers don’t have much of an online presence, and we want to partner with them to grow their business.
Templatic: Interesting! What’s the easiest part of SEO for your site? What’s the hardest thing to do?
Dave: Well, as I said, our advertising is for local businesses getting seen by local people.
Templatic’s Directory theme works great for getting our “Directory Listing” advertisers to show up well with Search Engines. It just works great. And when one of our advertisers gets a great position on Google – often other businesses in town show up in one of the top positions, as well. It’s a win-win for all!
If there’s something I dislike about doing SEO, it is having to consistently fill out minor things like “Alt Tags”, etc. It is boring – but it works.
Carefully structured plans for paid & free submissions
Templatic: Do you utilize paid ads?
Dave: No, we don’t.
Templatic: Okay. What type of outreach/brand recognition do you do?
Dave: We’re still figuring that out. I am in the process of beginning to develop an outreach plan for my community site.
Templatic: What are 3 good tools that you use to manage your advertising?
Dave: Kartra.com is one that comes to mind. There are others too.
Templatic: How do you host or manage your website? What do you look for in a webhost?
For me, great support matters a lot when choosing a web hosting service.
Templatic: What tools do you use for making backups of your websites? What other tools do you use with your websites?
Dave: Our Internet Service Provider takes care of the backups but we do use a number of content tools – like iHomefinder.com for the real estate section of the town sites.
Templatic: Do you use WordPress Multisite?
Dave: Yes, of course. SuburbanGuides.com and all related town websites are on one WordPress Multisite application. I think it’s a little hard to get it set up and organized – but it has worked well for years.
Templatic: That sounds great! If someone wanted to build websites like you do, what skills should they have?
Dave: The number one skill is patience. My sites involve a lot of people – and they all don’t work at lightning speed!
Templatic: We agree! What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in themes over the last few years?
Dave: Gutenberg, Elementor…there’s been a bunch of updates lately too.
Templatic: What are your top “go to” plugins?
Dave: Generally, specific content plugins like iHomefinder.com (real estate) and POWr, which is a social feed plugin for automatically gathering local news.
Templatic: What plugins do you wish existed, but don’t?
Dave: That’s a tough one! I am currently studying our needs for a membership plugin but I’m not sure which plugin(s) I will eventually choose.
Templatic: How long have you been a Templatic customer?
Dave: Probably about 5 years.
Templatic: What is the best Templatic theme that you use?
Dave: Directory 2.0. The basic version works best for us!
Templatic: What is something that Templatic does better than anyone else?
Dave: Well, your themes work well and the support from your team has been great so far!
Templatic: Thanks! We’re glad things are working well for you. Where can our readers find you online?
Dave: My website is www.linkedin.com/in/david-bonynge.
Templatic: Thanks, Dave! It was great talking with you! Hope you hit all of your business goals in the time to come!
Directory listing sites are a great way for your community club to create new revenue streams and build brand awareness. Templatic’s Directory 2.0 comes with a host of powerful features in a simple, easy to use interface to help you succeed!