Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New website puts downtown at your fingertips

From page OID10 | September 22, 2013 | Leave Comment

A revitalized Davis Downtown website went live last month, part of a plan to promote the retail district and make it easier to visit and shop. A mobile application is set for release very soon.

The URL didn’t change. It’s still, but the look, responsive design, search capabilities, interactive map, business listings and events calendar provide a wealth of information about downtown Davis. It uses social media, and adapts to mobile devices. The forthcoming iPhone app pulls information directly from the new website, and uses GPS information to help users find parking and stores.

Developers demonstrated the new designs at the Davis Downtown brown-bag talk earlier this month at the Varsity Theatre.

“Davis Downtown is very proud of this accomplishment,” said Nina Gatewood, marketing director for Davis Downtown. Attendees included downtown merchants, board members, city and UC Davis employees, and other curious residents.

Davis Downtown shortened its name from Davis Downtown Business Association last year as part of a rebranding campaign. This project continues that momentum. The association is made up of businesses inside the 32-block Business Improvement District, or downtown core. Those merchants pay a fee that, in part, goes to marketing and events advocacy like this.

Website developer Bill Habicht, a pastor at Davis Community Church downtown, explained how the business directory allows merchants to create and edit their own listings and add photos, all for free. To boost their presence, they can pay for ad space. Some 765 businesses are sorted by category, with the ability to search, for example, for those accepting Davis Downtown gift cards.

“The more business owners participate, the higher they’ll appear in a Google search,” Habicht said. Members have access to a tutorial video if they need help editing their listing.

A calendar of events allows community members to post items, which go to an administrator for approval. Users may sort the events to suit their liking.

For the younger crowd, there’s a happy hour search on the home page, with sorting by specialty. Social media is heavily integrated, with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Any photos posted on Instagram and tagged with #downtowndavis will feed onto its Instagram page. A contest will be announced soon to encourage such participation.

A Davis Farmers Market page has information on the schedule each week, and a Flipbook document on the market’s history. There are suggested walking tours, notes on historic properties, hotel information, and guides to the Second Friday ArtAbout. Prospective businesses can use the site to learn about available office and retail space.

App developer Kevin Howe of Three29 Design in Sacramento showed how users can easily access these resources with their phone. The free app will be released in two weeks to time with the return of UC Davis students.

The main dashboard includes icons for Directory, Parking, Second Friday ArtAbout, Calendar, Resources & Unitrans Schedule, and Farmers Market. It offers most of the features accessible on the website, but in a format easier to navigate on an iPhone screen, with the additional assistance of location services (GPS). An Android version is planned for the coming year.

— Wendy Weitzel is a Davis freelance writer and editor. Reach her at

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel is a longtime journalist and Davis resident. She is a former managing editor of The Davis Enterprise, working there from 1998-2008. She has written her Comings & Goings business column since 2001. Today, she does freelance writing, editing, marketing and design.

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