A little while ago, I put an obscene amount of time into creating a community aspect to the site. Being my first venture into such things, I didn’t know if it would take off or not but wanted to launch it nonetheless as I truly believed there was still a place for it.
If I was just able to transpose the initial concept from my head onto a rather large pile of A4 paper and then onto the internet then I may just have something here, I thought.
Despite the hard work and late nights (poor me), initially take up seemed a bit slow. But now, pleasingly, it’s beginning to take shape as more and more people are joining and making it into exactly what it says on the tin i.e. a real budget travellers community. We now have the makings of a superb little community, and I’m pleased to say that it’s here to stay. Forever.
I want to thank all those so far who have invested the time to sign up, share with everyone a little about himself or herself and, of course, upload their funky profile pictures. It’s the little things that make it so much more friendly, personal, and a better place to be. Without question, it’d be a pretty sh*t community if the first few people hadn’t taken the time to sign up, post mugshots, and see if it would go anywhere.
So thank you all once again, and the cheques are in the post. Honest.
Although I haven’t really had much time to post of late, I can assure you that my commitment to Ubertramp.com remains absolute. As time marches onward and beans from the ad revenue slowly accumulate, I continue putting it back into the site to help it grow. From time to time (read: when funds allow), I pay very clever people to add more stuff and iron out the few remaining bugs. Which reminds me, apologies to all those who are still plotted on the profile maps in Nebraska (not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with Nebraska) – I’m still working on that one…
Anyhow, I just thought it fair to write a quick post to say thank you to my readers and sponsors for sticking with and supporting the Ubertramp and, of course, to each and every one of you who have helped make the new Budget Travellers Community a great place to be. You’re all smashing.
Chin Chin, Ho Chi Minh.
Ps. If you’re not in the gang yet, you can join in a jiffy by clicking on the guy with the poodle haircut.
The words ‘streamlining’, ‘cutbacks’ and ‘reorganisation’ are all too common these days, and despite sitting here gaily tapping away – my workstation a laptop on a pair of sweaty legs, my suit and tie a pair of sunbleched pants with the ass hanging out – Ubertramp.com will also soon succumb to a vicious round of ‘fat trimming’.
But it’s not as quite as severe as it first may sound.
One thing I’ve noticed since being away (in this case, away from home and the usual 8 hajillion zilla-bit broadband connection) is how slow Ubertramp.com loads from an internet cafe. And for a site aimed at budget travellers, where time IS money in internet cafes, that’s not a good thing.
I need to sharpen the mouse and ruthlessly hack away at the nice looking (read: slow loading) stuff. I need to cut the current Java eye candy in favour of good, wholesome, budget friendly HTML. Ideally, I’d like to do this via a wifi connection from my laptop laden with geeky but timesaving tools – but in reality I’ll probably have to do it from an internet cafe. Its going to be interesting, that for sure.
Over the next however long I’m going to be analysing, stripping back and re-testing the site and slowly converting it into a more streamlined beast built for speed and accessibility over looks and shiny bits. Though, over the next however long, I’m also going to be spending a healthy percentage of my time in a hammock.
The more important shiny travel gadgets, such as the interactive maps, will stay (although they’ll only be accessible to registered users to reduce database load and overall site load times) and many of the tabbed bits will be changed instead into lists. Registered users will still have normal functionality on the community side (and be able to search for other users, message them, link to their own travel sites, write travelogue entries, upload unlimited photos, find people near them on the maps etc) as these are all things that’ll help build a better, more helpful, friendly and useful budget travel community. If you’ve not yet registered, you can do so for free here.
Graphics will get compressed where possible, and non-essential icons and other eye candy will be ditched in favour of more basic methods of getting the point across. Sure it may look a little uglier, but ugly and useful has to be better than pretty and useless (or as it is currently from internet cafes: pretty useless.)
What the site will lose in looks I hope to gain in efficiency. Well, that’s the general plan, anyway.
I’ll have plenty of time to start planning the changes on the 12 hour journey to Surat Thani this evening, and when I next get a cheap and half decent internet connection I’ll put the plan into action.
In the meantime, enjoy the non-essential shiny stuff as its days are numbered!
Any feedback you have on this – such any comments or suggestions on what you should think should stay, go, or be introduced in the future – would be greatly appreciated. Ta.
See you at the beach.
Adding new community features has again kept me busy this week, and I’m pleased to announce the latest addition to everyone’s user profiles: Countries Visited. Travellers can now update countries visited from their profile dashboard (the tabbed menu in sidebar on the profile pages). Click ‘Edit Profile’, then go to the ‘Countries Visited’ tab to start selecting your countries.
No, I know, you’re not braggers and box tickers and the kind of folks who whip a fully stamped passport out at the first whiff of a showcase opportunity – which is why it’s there for a far more philanthropic reason for it! The countries visited section forms part of the search set up now – so if, for example, you’re heading to a new country and have a few specific questions you’d like answers to, what better person could you ask than (a) someone who lives there or (b) someone who’s passed through there recently?
Obviously, only folks who’ve updated this section will appear in searches though (which is my way of asking you all very nicely to get clicking – thanks!)
To ask a question, just click the advanced search page (in the drop down header menu under ‘Community/Search Community’ and tick the desired country box to bring up a list of community members who’ve been there and/or live there. It’s as easy as visiting their profile and sending them an email or Private message. (Nb the two above links work when you sign in)
Also, there a few more funky things I’m working on at the moment too – but more about them shortly!
If you fancy becoming part of this growing community – a community being built solely as a means for travellers to find and assist each other on the road – by all means sign up here. Adios!
I know it’s been a while since my last post, so here’s a quick update on the latest happenings within the ubertramp.com world of webgeekery.
In short, ubertramp is finally going great guns again and is all systems go – and, right now, I must thank all the readers who’ve been popping back from time to time to check for updates and see how things are panning out. All the kind comments and emails have encouraged me and spurred me on to keep me at it until the wee hours on many an occasion. Thank you.
So, what’s been going on, then? What have I been up to geek-wise? Well, the biggest change on ubertramp has to be the addition of the ubertramper community. It’s taken much tweaking and head scratching but we’re getting there slowly but surely.
I must thank everyone who’s become part of this so far and, of course, our ubertramp advertisers and sponsors who’ve made it possible for me to hire coders and purchase various utilities that’ve transform the site from what it was into what it has become. And the best news of all is that there’s even greater functionality and travel friendly gadgets on the way!
Of course, all this change has regrettably made for a few short term casualties. Although search engine results, visitor numbers and page views took a big hit initially, thankfully they are now back on track!
Of greater concern, however, was the loss of comments from several posts as part of the migration to the new CMS. To make up for this I invite everyone who has been kind enough to take the time to comment on articles in the past to place a link to their site (and a quick overview of it, if they want) on the new dedicated links page. I’ve kept the registration and subsequent link submission process painfully simple and quick. Hopefully, these links will get those Google-juices flowing again. So far there are only a handful of links up there.
Also, travel webmasters who register (all free, still) can take advantage of another link offer from the site by way of their new dedicated profile page. The more active a member is, the more they will benefit from a link placed here since almost all onsite activity (comments, messages, emails, article submissions etc) point back to your member profile – and more profile visits mean more visits to your own site!
The next few posts I’ll be explaining some of the new features within the community to give you all a better understanding of what it’s all about, and to share with you a few of the nifty little travel gadgets I’ve got going on there.
If you can’t wait until the next post to find out what I mean, follow this link and become an ubertramper today!
Due to our current host awardspace.com offering such a poor value package and being populated by the most obnoxious, unhelpful ’support’ team on the face of the planet, we are delighted to be parting company and moving to another host. Unfortunately, due to my rather miniscule knowledge of how all this works, I’m sure it’ll take longer that I would like.
Over the next few days I’m sure the site will vanish then reappear at will, but please bear with me as all will be back to nomal as soon as humanly possible.