Jim & Alex Hanson are the co-authors of this website. We would like to tell you the story of how this unique Vidia encyclopedia - directory came to be.
The Need for a 1-stop, Comprehensive Encyclopedia - Directory of Everything in Negril
A few years ago, when my wife and I first began to explore the idea of taking a winter vacation in Jamaica, I started searching the internet for information about the island. I did this because I'm a person who finds much comfort in obtaining preliminary information about unknown places to which I am about to travel. This helps me to adequately prepare myself (mentally and physically) for the journey.
So I searched the internet for specific information on the various beach towns in Jamaica and their resorts. I spent many rather frustrating hours over quite a few days doing this, trying to compile the kind of realistic information that I felt I needed in order for me to make good decisions about where to stay in Jamaica and what to do during our trip.
I found a few very salesy websites from medium and large resorts that were a little too costly for us touting paradises found, which I discounted. I also found a few fairly objective reviews about some of Negril's resorts on a couple of the travel websites. But I couldn't find near enough information on Negril's resorts for my taste ( this was in 2000 - before the advent of broadband and You Tube).
My wife is a native Jamaican so she's very knowledgable of her home island. But she'd been away from it for almost 10 years and she felt pretty uninformed about the current state of affairs in Jamaica's resort towns. Therefore, all that she could suggest was that the best place to which we could go was Negril (because of its great beach). She also felt that we should stay at a safe resort hotel in close proximity to the town, not out in some remote, unsecured cottage where we might be vulnerable to the kind of criminals who have been known to prey upon naive tourists.
But at the same time she did not want us to cocoon ourselves in one of Negril's all-inclusive resorts. She wanted to be free to get about and travel around on her own and to interact with her people. She felt that staying in an all-inclusive resort would be a waste of money for us. because of the charges for 24 hour per day food and beverage services included in their fees, of which we would not be much there to take advantage.
So she contacted a friend in Jamaica and had her send a Negril phone book for us to study. But it only had the meager information of just resort names and phone #'s (unlike the USA, there are no street addresses in Negril so I couldn't much tell where any of them were located). So, after a few phone inquiries and then gatherng together everything that we could find on the internet about the non-inclusive resorts in Negril, we were still quite uncertain about which one to choose. All of Negril's resort websites were just too cotton-candy for us (and still are), so we didn't much trust them to guide us to the right place.
Then, one of her relatives in Jamaica suggested the Tree House Hotel Beach Resort because she knew a lot of native Jamaicans who had spent their vacations there in the wintertime and were happy with their stays there. So that's where we finally decided to go and we have both ended up being very pleased with its accomodations and with its people (we've been back there three times now).
But ever since my first search for information on Negril its been in the back of my mind that there was a real need for some good, objective, reilable information about everything in Negril......ALL IN ONE PLACE.
To accomplish this goal is one of the the main reasons that this encyclopedic photo and video website (Vidia) has been developed.
The Authors of this Website
My partner Alex Hanson and I are not blood-brothers as you might assume since we share the same last name. We consider our coincidental same names to be a bonding omen sent from God to encourage us to become e-brothers, joined within Dreamweaver until the death of us or our websites.
So we work together on our projects with me (Jim), doing the front end work for our team and Alex digging in technically to accomplish all of the backend work that is so necessary to a good succeessful website. We've worked together in this e-brotherly way for about 1 year to compile this entire website.
The two of us started our partnership together by first creating learntomove.com - another internet encyclopedia. This site is an inexpensive subscription website ($10 - 90 days) wherein we teach people great DIY moving techniques as well as packing, storing and trucking techniques for relocating their household goods. It uses a text and photo sequence format to teach people each aspect of DIY moving. This is top quality moving information that cannot be found in books or anywhere else, especially in any other one-stop website on the internet. It is true however, that moving information and packing tips are scattered around the internet (just like Negril Jamaica's information is also scattered around there), but it is not top quality moving info and its not found in one place (just as is the case for full information about Negril).
learntomove.com has been successful and chugs right along with very little maintenance. But unfortunately, because it competes with so much free but poor DIY moving information on the internet, it does not generate much revenue. So, having the experience of building an encyclopedic website under our belts from creating learntomove.com, we began to look around for some other encyclopic subject with a large potential audience. Only this time we wanted a subject that did not require us to spend years compiling its textual content and posing pertinent picture sequences for it as did learntomove.com.
We wanted a subject that would enable us to cull and curate information that others could contribute.
Selecting Negril Jamaica as a Large Niche Subject
So, since I had visited Jamaica with my wife and loved Negril so much, and since we knew that Negril's information was so sparse and scattered on the internet, we decided to try to do a comprehensive video encyclopedic website about it. However, for this particular subject we felt that modern day videos and good resolution photos were a much better venue than text as being the best means to encyclopedically convey Negril's true atmosphere and ambiance. Now, after having gathered so many photos and videos over the past year, we are fully convinced that they convey much more real-life information to the viewer than any text presentation could ever possibly do.
However, text with some photographs present still has a lot of value when it comes to travel information, so rather than carry text here, in many places on this site we link to other websites which have it (i.e. Virtourist.com - a very good photo and text tour site of Negril and Negril.com - with its very active message board and frequent blog stories and videos of places and people in Negril, etc.).
To begin with, we decided to first create a blog about the Tree House Hotel Beach Resort, where my wife and I had stayed. Blogging was a new venue for us to explore and blogs are freely hosted and they support embedded videos. So we thought that it might be a good free venue to learn and earn some ad revenue from some ambiance videos that I took and we put up on it.
Visually Conveying Negril's Ambiance
We created a one-entry blog about the tranquil pleasure that we, as satisfied customers of the Tree House Hotel in Negril, enjoyed while staying there. On it we placed a small amount of introductory text in front of about a dozen of our ambiance videos. Through these we learned how to visually convey this resort's tranquility. Now, you might ask - just what are ambiance videos?
First of all - what they are not are recordings of news stories or major events of any kind. Second - they do not have any drama or plot. Third - they have no professional or amateur actors, although people, all going about their business, frequently show up in the shots.
So then, what are ambiance videos? In a nutshell, they are just simple, extended length video shots using a tripod that steadily record (with audio) the tranquil atmosphere of the scene at which the camera is facing. They are meant to be very relaxing to view and in that fashion they are designed to inspire a desire within a person to visit the place whose restful ambiance they visually and audibly capture and portray.
By uploading them into the Revver.com monetized video player and then embedding Revver's video code onto our blog + adding Google ads, we hoped to generate a few bucks from its expected traffic.
Unfortunately, as good as we felt it was as a conveyer of the Tree House Resort's ambiance - it bombed as a revenue producer!
It failed because small free internet video players like Revver.com are very faulty and rarely play right and because it generated very little traffic at all. So we analyzed our failure and determined that it failed because we were using the wrong internet venue for its content.
A blog must be continually updated with articles, then promoted and well cross-linked for it to get enough traffic to generate any ad revenue. Neither of us were in circumstances in which we could dedicate the time and effort necessary to frequently create more and more videos and content and to carry on such a treadmill task. Besides, Negril.com already does that much better through its message board.
So we have just left our little blog in place as it is and now we merely link to it from here and there as opportunities to do so present themselves.
But on Revver.com itself (our blog's video host and monetized player), in spite of its flaws, we found that 12 of our videos tallied up a few thousand views over just a couple of months and our viewers clicks on their embedded ads generated a few bucks to us for our efforts! This wasn't big money by any means, but it told us that our idea of videos of scenes in Negril could tempt an audience that would click on related, embedded Google ads.
But it also told us that the big traffic needed which would pay off for us would only happen if there were a lot more of them and if they were placed onto a much better venue than our blog or than Revver.com offers. So we sat back and pondered whether or not to go to the bother and expense of creating and promoting a full blown Negril themed website upon which to place them. After all, a blog is easy to start and free of operational costs whereas a website requires tons of work to set up correctly (as is well evidenced by all that you can now see on this website) and it has a number of ongoing costs, especially if we had to go to Negril frequently to create more videos.
Creating this Video - Photo Encyclopedia Website on Negril
One day, as we were browsing around on the internet looking for the resorts in Negril, we began to notice that most resort websites (if they even had one) were out of date in structure (some of them even being quite internet archaic). Many had splash pages and tiny, old style low bandwidth, low resolution pictures and none of them had videos, just some of the old 360 degree room views.
When we inspected their source code we noticed that even the big all-inclusive resort's websites were not Search Engine Optimized (SEO'd) well. Most didn't even have decent HTML titles or descriptions and they didn't have good phrases in their keywords and within their page's text (things which are basic to SEO)!
These deficiencies led us to realize that in organic search, the big resort's websites were probably coming up with 1st page Search Engine Result Placements (SERP's) of their few key phrases because of their many inbound links. We then decided that if we created a modern modular website with content that was legitimitely worthwhile for tourism to Negril, that we could get some good organic traffic to come to it. Also, we noticed that they were all pay-advertising heavily, so we surmised that more than likely, that's how they get most of their business, not from organic search.
As a result of this analysis, we concluded that we might be able to succeed in organic search on many, many key phrases which is what we'd need to accomplish in order to draw decent traffic to a free website which could not pay to advertise itself because it would only be supported by low paying Google ads.
Therefore, we decided to take a risk and invest the time and the money necessary to create this comprehensive video and photo website dedicated to Negril. We felt that if we SEO'd it right, it would probably rise right up over time onto the first page of each of its key phrase organic SERP's and from there we would obtain some decent Negril and Jamaica search traffic.
We felt that Negril and Jamaica are both subjects with huge audience appeal (as has been ascertained by comments on negril.com about 85% of millions of tourists using the internet to research their trips). So we felt that if our site had good video and photo content and was well SEO'd, it would pull enough traffic into it to generate adequate ad revenue to pay us to perpetuate the site.
We could tell by the condition of most of Negril's websites, that they have been around since the late 1990's, therefore they have had years of tenure with the search engines (SE's), a fact that could work against our efforts. But we felt that by properly structuring and SEO'ing our new site, we could eventually displace the top page leaders, pushing them down a notch or we could at least slip up right behind them onto the 1st or 2nd page SERP's for most of our key-phrases!
Using Embedded Videos of Negril from User-Generated Video Hosts
So, we invested a few weeks of our spare time beginning the development of this site and embedding most of my videos of Negril into it. But as it progressed we saw the need to expand its narrow scope by also tapping all of the good quality videos that we could find on the major host of user-generated videos - You Tube. This site has a huge number of videos of Negril and Jamaica. which fill in a lot of Negril's information that it would be difficult and / or impossibly costly for us to video ourselves.
Our website has Google ads on every page so You Tube's videos end up helping us to gain ad revenue on our pages. Consequently, we now have hundreds of You Tube's videos on this website and we will be continuously searching there for more of them that are of good quality (and also in the future, maybe on other such hosts of user-generated video).
Because our videos are mostly code embeds from You Tube, this website, for its size, is very band-width efficient (since the videos do not actually reside on nor play off of our site). The only drawback to embedded videos is that they do not reliably play at times, especially during times of high trafffic on the internet. But we expect Adobe Flash, You Tube and the broadband pipeline to improve over time to correct this deficiancy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
We have SEO'd this website by utilizing individual site pages that are modular and specific to each of Negril's many, many subjects. With this uncomplicated site structure we can focus each page's subject to its pertinent search key-phrases. This should bring each page on the site up into a top SERP for most of the keyphrase permutations that it employs that people might use when searching for information about that particular subject in Negril or Jamaica.
By modularizing each of our subjects onto individual pages we take advantage of every possible key-phrase permutation on that particular subject (i.e. any of the resorts in the left side menu - if you'll look at each of their source code's keywords you'll see a good example of this)
It soon became our desire for our site's photo and video content to be considered (worldwide) as being so fully comprehensive that little else would need to be searched for information about Negril Jamaica. Because our photos and You Tube's pertinent videos have been here humanly sorted and categorized, our Vidia will truly become a reliable visual encyclopedia and thus a major source for information that people might desire regarding tourism in Negril Jamaica.
We are making it so complete that even the smallest enterprises in Negril each have their own page. Jerk stands, arts & crafts vendors, T shirt shops, trinket vendors, etc. all may have a page (and therefore an internet presence) in our encyclopedia. We also provide a page for the library, the post office, churches, associations, charitable institutions, etc. on this website. So we have scoured every internet resource to find and include all of these little guys, so to speak, within this encyclopedia. In fact, we look to the popularity of Negril's main enterprises within our data bases on this website as a means to draw internet traffic to these kinds of small enterprises that could never afford to advertise themselves with a website of their own.
In our efforts to be such a major Negril information source, we request that the owners, managers or patrons & friends of each of the enterprises in Negril take their own photos and videos of their places and e-mail them to us. Then we will put them up on You Tube and then embed them into their particular page or into any other pertinent pages on our site. This is the best way for us to keep this website up to date. We would also like each enterprise owner or manager to make a short video of themselves being interviewed and / or welcoming tourists to their resort or restaurant, shop, bar, club or roadside stand.
During our future trips to Negril, we will take videos of Negril's residences in the poorer areas where so many of Negril's service personnel reside. By showing the difficult conditions that some live in, we hope to encourage affluent tourists to generously tip the help at Negril's resorts, restaurants, clubs, bars and services because good tipping should be considered as being an undercover form of charity. In seeing the living conditions that some of these hard working Jamaicans (especially the older Jamaicans) are forced into by their low wages, it might help to inspire some tourists to help them by more generously tipping them
Cross Linking to other Negril Promotional Websites
We will also be reaching out to every decently maintained Negril oriented website's webmasters for cross-links back to our site after we have first finished cross-linking ours to theirs. If we get the good traffic that we expect, cross-linking will be advantageous to them because a link from here will improve their own search status. We do not wish to compete with any of these websites since there is a lot of good textual and pictorial information on their sites that we feel we should also make available to our audience through links.
One important thing that should be mentioned here is that whenever one website provides its viewers with links to other websites, it opens itself up to loss of ad revenue because its viewers going off site to those linked sites may not return. If the website's primary motive is to optimize its ad income it will avoid all such traffic leaks. But if its primary reason for existence is to well-serve its viewers and its subject enterprises (as is our motivation), it will magnanimously link elsewhere whenever it is warranted (as we are more and more doing as the site is further developing).
We feel that our motive of achieving ad revenue must always take a secondary place to our primary motive of helping tourists and Negril's enterprises. Therefore, we don't need to clutch onto every viewer by not doing our best to provide each of them with as much information as possible.
Our desire is to inform people all over the world about the wonderful town of Negril in order to increase the town's tourism, not to gain kudos for photographing and videographing everything ourselves. That's one of the reasons that you will find photos and videos from many other sources along with our own and many links to other Negril oriented websites within this website. It is our hope to in this way succeed in bringing everyone who considers visiting Negril into awareness of and familiarity with everything that Negril has to offer. Then hopefully, more people will decide to come here for a visit.
Negril truly is a grand Jamaican tourist town, a paradise finally found, just as those salesy resort websites which we discounted years ago, promised it to be!
Jim and Alex Hanson (age before beauty!)
Courtesy of Negril.com:
Negril.com's message board and Trip Advisor's Negril Forum have many daily threads that provide travelers with much up-to-date tourist information.
Owners, Managers and Patrons of All of Negril's Enterprises
All encyclopedias rely upon experts to provide them with authoritative and true articles about their subjects and this video encyclopedia is no exception. However, the articles that we use here are in photo and video form, so the experts whom we must rely upon to produce them are Negril's enterprise owners, managers and their patrons. After all, who is better quailfied to provide good visual information than these folks who have valid, first-hand knowledge about each of Negril's resorts, restaurants, clubs, shops, road stands, attractions and activities?
Therefore, we here request Negril's enterprise owners to record for us a brief digital video welcoming people to their enterprise and describing its attributes (preferably with them and some of their staff and / or their patrons in it). This will humanize their enterprise to the public by being a very friendly and inviting way of encouraging people to come to Negril for their vacations.
Other Videos and Photos
Enterprise owners (and their patrons) may also provide us with separate additional videos of some of the unique, interesting things that occur within their enterprises.
Contributors of More & Better Information to this Vidia
If anyone finds that any of the information we have gathered on Negril on this website needs correction, modification or improvement - please tell us about it by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Promote Negril's Mini & Micro Businesses
If you own a smaller Negril enterprise or micro-business and you are without a website of your own, you may use your page here for a starter website until you are ready to create one of your own. Just e-mail us at email@example.com to obtain our help in quickly customizing your page for you at no charge whatsoever.
Get the Word Out!
Any loyal patrons of any enterprise in Negril which has not yet taken advantage of our offer to build, improve and / or customize their page at no charge, should pass this offer along to those enterprise owners whom they know well enough to suggest it.
Videos Humanize Each Enterprise
All videos and photos of Negril's enterprises will greatly humanize and express the true ambiance of each of them. This can help allay potential visitor's fears of the unknown and increase each enterprise's chance of obtaining their patronage.
E-mail or Snail-mail Visual Data to Us
Just upload their video(s) onto You Tube and then e-mail us their link(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll then approriately categorize and embed these You Tube'd video(s) onto their page and onto any other appropriate pages within this website.
If the video(s) can't be uploaded to You Tube, then just e-mail them to us as a file attachment. Send these also to email@example.com.
Alternatively, people may snail-mail cd-rom(s) of their video(s) to Alex Hanson at 6542 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL 60626. When we receive these videos, we will check them for quality and then load them right onto You Tube and embed them onto all of the appropriate pages within this Vidia to which they might apply.
Each digital video embedded on this Vidia is also shown on You Tube, so it becomes a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, goodwill ambassador that will promote that particular Negril enterprise - world-wide!