Although the digital age may seem in its infancy, many Vermont small business owners are learning that they have already had to update their online presence to adapt to the evolving expectations of modern customers.

In the Bee's Knees KitchenOne such Vermont company that recognized a need to update its website and other online resources is Morrisville’s popular eatery The Bees Knees.

This company tapped e-Vermont partner Patrick Ripley, who works advising small businesses on how to better leverage online resources. “The Bees Knees had taken steps early on to maintain an online presence, but its website had gotten older and was not meeting modern customer expectations,” Ripley said. “The owners recognized this, and took steps to remedy the problem.”

The Bees Knees owner and operator Sharon Deitz Caroli worked with e-Vermont to find a suitable web designer, get cost estimates and revamp her online presence. “Though our restaurant has maintained a fairly strong web presence and we are active with social media sites … (e-Vermont) really raised my awareness of how important technology has become in not just advertising but managing public perception of what and how well we are doing,” Deitz Caroli said.

Bees Knees interiorDeitz Caroli’s initial website design was done in house, which is common among Vermont small business owners, but as her business grew, it became clear it was time for a more professional online presence. “You really want your website to reflect the status of your physical business because most people research online before purchasing,” Ripley said. Deitz Caroli said she was very pleased with the results. “I’ve had the same site since I opened almost 9 years ago. My father put it together for me and though functional, had quite a few limitations. I’ve known for a few years that it was time to re-do the website,” Deitz Caroli said.

“I started getting a lot of emails from customers asking me to update the site — it made me realize just how many people go to the web for information about my business. I had often taken the philosophy that I am a restaurant, not a website, and thus the site was not really a reflection of what we are doing. But, now I realize just how much the website has become not only a source of information for our customers but a first impression for new customers to decide if they are even going to walk through the door.”

Before (left) and after redesign pictures of the Bees Knees website:

Bees Knees website before redesign Bees Knees new website design