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    WordMouth.com - UK Local Recommendations


    Hi all,

    Where to start? Firstly please bere in mind I have never built a site before and have only been learning for a few months.

    http://www.wordmouth.com
    UK Word Of Mouth Business Recommendation and Review Service.


    I came up with the idea for WordMouth last December. I am a programmer and long-time web user, but not a designer. I approached a friend to help build the site.. but by July he hadn't delivered, so I attempted to do it myself.

    The concept is simple. I want a place where the general public can discuss and recommend the businesses, services, events, clubs and news in their local area. The Yellow Pages in great, but how do you know who is going to provide a good service?

    In addition to this I wanted a place where companies could advertise for very low cost. Yellow Pages allows you to list a name, number and address for a lot of money. I thought it would be good to add images, weblinks etc etc to build a graphical billboard.

    Essentially what I am trying to build is an "Amazon" for local business.

    I chose phpBB because it is free and easy to install. You will see that I have used a large category hierarchy.. and ratings modifications. I have bolted in a payment system so that companies can add themselves to the directory. I have tried to strip out a lot of the forum elements that are unneccesary to streamline the display. The whole site only shows what it needs to.. no clutter.

    The home page is simple too.. adopting the Google concept of minimalism! I am assuming that less clutter will make it easier to use.

    Anyway I am open to any suggestions for design, content and SEO. I am listed on Google (pagerank 4 already.... not sure how!!), and have an Adwords campaign running from many keywords. I have attempted to optimise my homepage for "consumer reviews" with additional "local" and "UK" elements. You will also see that the titles of all my pages are dynamically generated

    How do I get onto MSN... I can't find any way of submitting.

    I think my concept is unique in the UK... (I am worried that Yahoo Local is catching me up rapidly!!).

    Also check out the examples (linked from the header) for more idea about what I am trying to do. You can see the rating system, customer feedback, images etc etc.

    This is all a protoytype... and I hope to pay someone to improve it once things start rolling faster. I have 100 members, but few post... and 9 paying customers so far

    Please help me make my site better. I am finding marketing my idea very difficult.. and getting users to stick. After all, what is the incentive for them to post apart fromfeeling that they have helped others. ... and what is the incentive for a company to create a billboard - when there are so few posts!! Grr... chicken and egg!!!

    Many thanks,

    Al.
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    To be perfectly honest I think that you need to make the site more appealing from the start. Simplify things a bit - perhaps use some clear, obvious icons rather than lots of text. Make it easier for the visitor. One idea might be to put a clickable map of the UK on the homepage rather than a list of counties. Also make the directory listings easier to read and more compact. This would make navigating it more of a pleasure. Right now it's a very cold look - doesn't really draw you in. Try and approach it as a visitor looking at the site (and be brutally honest with yourself). That way you'll see what's wrong and enable you to improve the site.

    Hope this helps.
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    The map idea would be a good idea, however, i did use that idea of the counties for a site i done a while back and it took me ages to find an half decent picture of the UK so i can image map it to the different counties.
    woah, i impatiently waited so long for a signature and now i got one i dont know what to add in here!
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    Hi,

    Thanks for your feedback. I thought of having a map, but personally I have seen so many shoddy, slow and unresponsive examples that I wish to stay clear of them.

    I am not sure my level of design ability would enable me to draw an effective one. I also think that by having a "zooming" map, it would mean more clicks for the user between the homepage and the forums.

    I have cleaned things up and it is now a little better I hope. What do you think?

    I hoped that the concept of the site would be attractive enough to not require a huge amount of design. I need to climb the Google rankings and get more inbound links, and that should hopefully be enough to get the ball rolling. Online marketing and optimisation is certainly better for websites than standard methods. I have had articles in magazines and local newspapers and they have brought nearly 0 traffic... where a small article online brings lots.

    Any other suggestions would be most appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Al.

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