Tour Santa Barbara: Through Our Local Web Design
Local Santa Barbara Spotlight Series Part Two
Some of our clients occupy the nooks and crannies here in town, servicing small niches while others have high visibility. And there are some who are operating online from their headquarters here with no public brick and mortar. But they all have something in common. And that’s the incredible contribution they each make to this amazing city of ours. This is the second in our new series spotlighting local clients to give you a tour of Santa Barbara by getting to know some of its interesting, valuable and influential community members.
Our first in the series was The Santa Barbara Company. For our second story in the series, let’s jump to the historic Santa Barbara landmark house museum and garden, Casa del Herrero House of the Blacksmith, a local non-profit treasure we’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Casa del Herrero
The Casa is run by the non-profit Casa del Herrero Foundation and is the 1920’s estate museum of Carrie Howard and George Fox Steedman in Montecito, CA (next door and considered part of greater Santa Barbara) designed and built by George Washington Smith with a site plan created by Ralph Stevens, Lockwood De Forest and Francis T. Underhill among others. The estate is one of the most lovingly preserved landmarks dating back to the heyday of Montecito estates in the 20’s. It is included in the National Register of Historic places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009. Tours are available by reservation. And I’ll tell you, when we had our private tour during the website development, we were awed by the astounding beauty and fascinating details of both the buildings and the gardens. During our visit, we viewed many of the original furnishings, art, antiques and tiles purchased personally by Steedman on a trip to Spain in 1923. One of the most fascinating parts of the estate is the workshop building, hence the name Blacksmith House. Steedman had an strong interest in silversmithing and studied with George Gebelein, the foremost American silversmith in Boston. The workshop he created allowed him to pursue his interest seriously, an area for estate maintenance projects and also provided his wife, Carrie with a place to work on her prizewinning flower arrangements.
Ironically, the Steedmans moved into their new abode on the very day of the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. The proximity of events connects the estate with important developments in architecture and cultural history of Santa Barbara. It was after the Santa Barbara earthquake that civic leaders proposed that the massive rebuilding required should be consistent architecturally. The style adopted was Spanish Colonial Revival, which continues to this day to contribute to the city’s beauty and dominates its cultural identity.” And so the estate as well -“…The creation of the property reflects a remarkable synthesis of culture, artistic expression, natural environment, and historical antecedents…”
The Website Design
Our first iteration of this website took place a number of years ago when web development was different, the needs simpler and interactivity was less of a factor. The plan for this project was to create a classic brochure site. On the site would live information about the Casa such as tours, history, Board of Trustees, its events and programs, membership signup, volunteer and docent opportunities. The site would also have donation capability and naturally last but not least, the obvious feature which was to include an area to explore the splendor of the estate through their many gorgeous photographs.
This brings me to our main task which was to develop a site that would impart the detail and meticulous beauty of the estate on first glance, within a few seconds of landing on the Home page. The design of the site and its details are built on photographs that we took during for this express purpose. Spending time wandering, exploring, looking and shooting also created a kind of intimacy that was then translated into the design.
After launch, the site functioned terrifically for them for a few years yet recently it became apparent that it is in need of conversion to a more robust content management system and that it could capitalize on the benefits of a WordPress platform for SEO purposes, the installation of a blog and of course capability for the team there to update and make changes to the website themselves. To this end, we are currently in development on converting the site to a WordPress content management system. This involved some design tweaks including a side bar, widgetizing, blog design and blog entry layouts.
We continue to enjoy our relationship and work with the Casa and are proud to have developed their online presence. If you have a chance to visit Casa del Herrero on the ground, we highly recommend it!
To continue your Santa Barbara tour, watch for our next installment in this roundup of our local clients.