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 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.]

Maps galore

I’ve just finished adding mapping features to the VillageRatings site. It turns out that displaying maps is relatively easy, thanks to the wonderful Google Maps API. What is tricky (in the UK at least) is computing the right longitude and latitude values for the things you want to display on the map (in this case villages). Hopefully this will change some time soon when Google starts offering a UK geocoding service. Anyway, it was more of a fight than I’d anticipated, but it’s now up and running.


How long could I live in Peckham without creating a Peckham-centric web site? Not very long.

OK, so PeckhamLive is never going to be big. And it’s not the prettiest site to see the light of day. But it could be useful if you happen to live in Peckham and are looking for local information.

Talking of Peckham, I just discovered that it was chosen as Britain’s top “creative hotspot” by communications agency The Fish Can Sing (cute name!) You can read the article here. And that was back in 2005, before mulogy set up here ;-)

And in case you thought Peckham was still the grim urban area of its Only Fools and Horses days, check out the local palm trees.