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Thread: A New Look and Direction for MB411

  1. #21
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Hey everybody, the new layout is up! Sorry for running a few hours late.

    A big thanks to Mike and Atiosis for getting the layout done so quickly, and to Jess, Doug, Christy and Matt for writing the new travel tips and helping us edit the new sections.

    We still have a lot of pages with the old layout, but the main sections of the site should be working correctly, with the new style.

    I'm going to get a few hours sleep. I'll reply back in the morning with more info and some links to the main sections.

    As always, your feedback is welcome.
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  2. #22
    Travel Advisor fredgarvin's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Lots of Good Luck!

  3. #23
    Administrator Michelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    I think we are having some log-in issues; we working to fix it as fast as we can!

  4. #24
    Michael Miller
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    ^ All fixed Michelle .
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  5. #25
    Senior Member GandJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    The new site looks great!


    Glenn

  6. #26
    rk
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    OK, I managed to log in. About and hour ago I could not, so things are in the right direction. The site seems usable though quite a few formatting type errors hopefully obvious to everyone so they'll be fixed in due course. Will check in tomorrow and report any that seem to have been missed. Thanks for all the work in getting the new-look site up.

    PS: One quick thing I noticed - the site looks considerably worse in IE than in Firefox. Whoever is doing the checking should try it both ways.

  7. #27
    Member Mario's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    The website looks great!! The new colors are far more pleasant as Christy had mentioned.

  8. #28
    Michael Miller
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Quote Originally Posted by rk View Post
    OK, I managed to log in. About and hour ago I could not, so things are in the right direction. The site seems usable though quite a few formatting type errors hopefully obvious to everyone so they'll be fixed in due course. Will check in tomorrow and report any that seem to have been missed. Thanks for all the work in getting the new-look site up.

    PS: One quick thing I noticed - the site looks considerably worse in IE than in Firefox. Whoever is doing the checking should try it both ways.
    Rofl... everything looks worse in IE (imo lol :p) however I did (IE9 using both 64bit and regular browser both version 9.0.8112.16421 on Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit) check and didn't notice any major issues, if you have some to share please do so and I'll see about sorting them promptly .

  9. #29
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Mike, Just a quick note.

    In addition to the other notes I emailed, please add one thing to the list...

    On the forum homepage, please move the "Last Post" column a little to the left. It's driving me crazy seeing the the "Last Post" Titles scrunched over so far to the right.

    In a perfect world, I would like the "Last Post" column Titles to display on one line.

    I have a few more notes I will send you in the morning.

    And disregard my note about reducing the size of the breadcrumb trail. With there being no link to the forum in the main naviagation, it's good to keep the breadcrumb trail links a little big.

  10. #30
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Mike, in case you're working tonight, can you also move the sub menu links two or three space to the right.

    For an example of the placement, see the sub menu links on the "Plan Your Trip" page.

    And make all the sub menu links bold, like I mentioned in the email.

  11. #31
    Moderator Jess's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Are you guys trying to give me a breakdown last night?! I waited like 4 hours, refreshing my beloved 411 and when it finally went live I COULD NOT LOG IN! But now all is back to normal I see, phew.

    Website looks AWESOME guys!!! CONGRATS!!!

  12. #32
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Sorry, Jess. As you found out, some issues still need to be fixed.

    I started a bug report. If you find any problems with the forum, or the main website, post your bugs here.

    We'll keep this thread focused on Miami Beach 411's new direction, how the new changes affect the big picture, and how I confused Google and messed up our rankings, and what we can do it get them back.

  13. #33
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Quote Originally Posted by rk View Post
    ... I think redesigning the front page is a great idea and long overdue. The old front page was way too complicated, and I like the fact that the new front page seems to fit on the screen without scrolling. In my view even the new front page is a bit too complicated but let's wait and see, sometimes too hard to judge from a screen capture. The items in the left column are easy to follow, i.e. easy to tell the difference between Miami, Key West, Orlando etc. The entries in the middle column seem confusing and repetitious. Helpline, Travel Tips, Guidebooks, Need Help and Helpful websites all sound the same without conveying any useful information. They could be merged into one or two entries very easily.
    Thank you for being patient. You've been politely urging us to simplify the homepage for quite a while, and I appreciate you sticking with us while we got some other areas of the company up and running. 2010 was a crazy year. Miami Tour Company built 7 new websites in 7 different languages, and added 4 new languages to the tour.

    I dropped the ball at Miami Beach 411, but I'm back and ready to play.

    I hear what you're saying about the center column links looking repititous, but they are all very different. I am counting on that people will quickly get accustomed to the new names and what they mean. Let me give everyone a rundown of the center column links that we are talking about on the "Plan Your Trip" page:

    Traveler's Helpline goes to the forum, and is the first link listed in the column.

    Travel Tips is a collection of articles, answering some of the most frequently asked questions we get asked in the forum.

    411 Guidebooks goes to a collection of local guidebooks for sale.

    Helpful Links is a page with a bunch of links to other websites that we use in the office, and that make our jobs easier.

    Need Help Planning goes to a page where people can contact us by phone, or online and get free vacation planning advice.

    We'll keep revising the descriptions to make them as easy to understand as possible. If anyone has some suggestions, please let us know.

    I am very surprised to read your comment that the forum is too popular in search engines so you are trying to relegate it to a sub-menu. This seems both counter-productive and ineffective at the same time. Ineffective, because (I assume) people who visit the forum rarely do so by following links from the front page, rather they get to the forum by following links from a search engine like Google or Bing. This will not change no matter how you re-arrange links. Counter-productive, because it seems you are trying to hide the most useful part of your website. The reason Google is the most popular search engine is that they don't clutter their front page with things that make it harder to do a search. This is a mistake that Netscape and later Yahoo never quite recovered from. Interactive websites where users provide the content (and are in control) are the future. Static sites where information flows one way are like TV stations of old. The most valuable asset of this website is the people who write in with questions. You want to do everything possible to encourage that.
    With the old navigation and the old content on the homepage, I confused Google to think that the forum was Miami Beach 411's main focus. I should never have listed the "Forum" link, first, before the "Top Stories" or added so much forum content on the homepage. I was directing our users and the Google bot back to the forum, and not really giving them an option to discover the other sections of the website. We had so many people and search engine bots hanging out on the forum pages for such a long time, it created a very strong signal to Google that our site was only a forum.

    I hope re-arranging the links will make it easier for people to find the other sections, and in doing so, send a better signal to Google about the full scope of Miami Beach 411. Some search engine folks refer to this technique as funneling, or sculpting. Only time will tell if my theory works. I'll keep an eye on the rankings and report back if I see any positive or negative changes.

    We're going to get Miami Beach 411 back on track (or die trying).
    Christy likes this.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Hey Gus and all the others!

    "plastic sugery"
    for Miami 411 ---- WELL DONE
    looks great!

    iŽll recommend this site to some friends, if they are interested on holiday in miami/florida...

    thx again for all ur efforts also in my thread on General Travel and Recreation!

    All the Best 4 u Guys... Keep it up!

    Greets from Germany

    Vivi
    Last edited by SunnyCoast; 03-26-2012 at 06:20 PM.
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  15. #35
    Editor Christy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    I am loving the new site!!!

    I think I would re-name Traveler's Helpline to Traveler's Forum & Advice, just because helpline conjures up an image of a 1800 number.
    rk and Matt Meltzer like this.

  16. #36
    rk
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Miller View Post
    Rofl... everything looks worse in IE (imo lol :p) however I did (IE9 using both 64bit and regular browser both version 9.0.8112.16421 on Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit) check and didn't notice any major issues, if you have some to share please do so and I'll see about sorting them promptly .
    OK, I will follow up in the new bug reporting thread that Gus started. The main problem yesterday was that (in IE and Chrome, but not in Firefox) many small spacer type images were showing up as small boxes with a red X through them, as if the file was not found. This seems to have resolved itself today.

  17. #37
    rk
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Quote Originally Posted by Christy View Post
    I am loving the new site!!!

    I think I would re-name Traveler's Helpline to Traveler's Forum & Advice, just because helpline conjures up an image of a 1800 number.
    Or really, just Travel Forum.
    Christy likes this.

  18. #38
    Editor Matt Meltzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Well at that point, it'd be basically back to "Forums', right?

    Also, aren't we a resource for relocators as well? Like that's a BIG part of the questions I find myself answering. And limiting it to Travel Helpline seems to me that it would detract from people who come here lookign for relocation advice. And how many forum members do we have now who contribute to and inadvertantly promote our site because they came to our site looking for relocation advice? Now obviosuly I'm biased as that's the area of MB411 I've focused on, but it seems a valuable resource for those people and one we shouldn't negelect.

    I like the new layout and colors a lot, though. Much simpler and user-friendly.
    rk and Christy like this.

  19. #39
    rk
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Exactly, Forum is even better than Travel Forum. It conveys what it really is, a forum for advice about things relating to travel and more, such as relocation. Somehow the new design forgot to include relocation advice as one of the things to highlight. Maybe that can be rectified later?

  20. #40
    Gus
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    Default Re: A New Look and Direction for MB411

    Matt,

    I'm happy you brought this up about the relocators. The change isn't meant to neglect the people who use Miami Beach 411 for relocation advice. I feel that most of those types of users are in the travel planning stages before moving here, so it makes sense for them to use a travel planning site like Miami Beach 411 for answers. We'll try to do something extra to make them feel welcome.

    I don't want you to feel that you have to limit yourself.

    But I feel that renaming the forum will help us to better frame for users what we do in this section of the site.

    Everyone is still welcome to hang out and talk about living here.

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