Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bham Central Two Years Later

It was a fun experiment to see what could be accomplished in one week with creating Bham Central (a listing site targeted at Birmingham, AL).  I learned several things with launching this site in such a short time:

1) First and foremost, the feature set needed to be smaller.  While I was able to implement the features I outlined, the final product was fairly crude and buggy.  In particular the Events feature was difficult to use and did not work unless just the right data and formatting was used.  Without some validation and better usability work this feature should not have been released.

2) When building a site like this you initially need to focus on areas where content creation is easy.  It is difficult to get people to start listing houses and jobs when there is no traffic on a site.  So after releasing the "1.0 feature set", I eventually turned several sections of the site to focus on areas where I could easily create good content:  restaurants in Birmingham, AL and social events in Birmingham, AL.

3) Marketing is hard.  After building the site I became busy with my full-time job and was not able to devote much time to the site.  To try to keep the ball rolling I hired a summer intern to help with marketing in order to build traffic.  He did some good work and we eventually became a top listing for the Gian Marco's Italian restaurant here in Birmingham.  This page has been the major source of traffic for the site.

4) Building up a site requires consistent energy.  Because of some health trouble I had, all work on the site stopped in 2010.  I kept the site up and running, but didn't do anything with it.  Content was stagnant and there was no marketing being done.  This is bad.

Where are we now?  Now I am focusing on making sure the Restaurants and Events sections are done really well and trying to market the site more.  As these areas of the site mature I will then begin to add back features in order to realize the full vision of the the site.

No comments: