localmouth

Listier is not the only new creation here at mulogy headquarters. localmouth is a new site I’ve set up over the last week which provides a local community homepage for every village, town and suburb in the UK. The residents of each place can use it to share local information such as details of local clubs and things to do in the area. I’m trying to make it as user-friendly as possible so that as many local people as possible are able to contribute information.

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Listier

A new site has recently joined the mulogy stable. Listier is a bit of a toy thing for the moment, but it does already do something useful. You can create online lists that are visible to everyone. Other people can then contribute to your lists. This could be useful for collaboration between friends or to get extra ideas related to your personal jottings. As a bonus feature, you can vote any item on a list up or down. Lists are automatically ordered based on votes received. The voting system is crude for now but could easily be enhanced if people find this useful.

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Every settlement in the UK

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so there’s a fair bit to catch up on. I’ll start with what’s been going on with VillageRatings.

I spent a while grappling with adding a large database of UK placenames and locations to VillageRatings. This turned out to be quite involved, mainly because the dataset I used needed a lot of cleaning-up and tweaking. Issues included converting between grid references and longitude and latitude and spreadsheet software creaking under the strain of a database with tens of thousands of entries. The biggest challenge, though, was dealing with multiple entries for the same place but with slight variations in spelling. Unfortunately, map locations were not unique to a place, so the removal of the duplicates was not easy to automate. Ultimately it taught me the importance of getting good quality input data if you’re dealing with large datasets.

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Usability advice for VillageRatings

At Internet World, the affable and knowledgeable Simon and Alex (I hope I have the names right) from Nomensa and a very nice chap from Cyber-Duck gave me some great advice for VillageRatings (much of which will be generally applicable) that I hope to put to good use in the months to come.

Here’s the site as they saw it:

Some of the suggestions they had were:

  • Make it clearer why people should want to rate their village, e.g. talk about being proud of their village, sharing their expert knowledge (for ideas, see what TripAdvisor, etc. do to encourage users to write reviews)
  • Perhaps add a “Why rate a village” tab?
  • Make site appear to be flourishing (e.g. get more friends to write reviews)
  • See travelintelligence.net for ideas
  • Make navigation tabs react to roll-over
  • Don’t make site logo link to the homepage if the user is already on the homepage
  • Consider automatic completion of village names
  • Improve village search so that it does substring matching, e.g. a search for “Llantwit” would bring up the entry for “Llantwit Major”
  • Make things more visual and friendly with, for example, mini avatar pictures alongside users’ comments, and allow users to upload photos of the villages (but allow flagging of photos by users in case people upload anything offensive!)
  • Extend homepage with more content (to help search engine rankings?)
  • Consider making “Rate” button larger
  • Change “see more” to something more specific, e.g. “see more top villages”
  • Add a “Resources” page with links to other related sites in exchange for links back from them

Helpful stuff. It was worth attending Internet World for this feedback alone!

[Incidentally, as well as all this, the guy from Cyber-Duck suggested moving away from Google Maps at some point as apparently Google are going to be putting advertising on their maps sometime soon. He’d got this information second-hand. I rather hope it’s wrong as it’s going to mean revisiting a lot of work. One to check into.]

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