Just a short update on some of the web projects currently being trialed by everyone here.
The main Midnight Oil Books website. This is our multi-function engine room. If folks like our policies, service and descriptions, and particularly the speed of delivery, then they can buy directly from us with all the usual Amazon safeguards. It is not an ideal world from the commercial point of view, for as far as most people are concerned there really is little point searching a directory of 5,000 books when you could be looking at the complete range on Amazon; and, most people will want to compare prices anyway. We do aim to consistently undercut our competitors, and as a reputation thing, once news spreads perhaps it will be used more.
Other features of the website include our specialist linguistics pages, complete with YaBB, journals, newsletters, shop description, and directions to it. There is more to business, particularly a bookselling business than raising revenue, however, and I would love to be able to provide a local history forum of sorts and a pile of articles online. At the moment there is only the one, but this will be expanded in time.
The newest of our sites: just a bit of fun really. Perhaps a good way to kill time more than anything else, although I've already been cautioned that the Falling Sand recommendation is likely to render you economically unproductive inperpetuity, or something like that.
Speak to me if you know of any other links worth adding.
I have a lot of hope for the wayo listing. Its big, yellow, online rival has two shortcomings in my eyes. Firstly, there are no opening hours. When you search for a business online, my guess is that 30% of the time, people are looking to find out when it opens or close, hence, 'wayo' or 'when are you open?'. There are three technical hurdles that I am trying to overcome: the data structure, forms and data storage using MySql, and displaying the output. I would love to be able to do things like produce maps showing what stores within 3 miles, say, of a particular location are open at any particular time. Could be challenging.
Basic data for the Commercial Street area is already available online and it is worthwhile checking out a sample individual record, in this case for Gibb's Florist. Opening hours will ultimately be displayed on each individual card, but I sure there will be opportunities to have fun and - not be bored - playing around with the maps and running stats searches etc for your area. One example could be: which area has the hardest work business in Scotland, and which has the laziest.
International Travel Baggage Advice: possibly one of the duller topics of non-interest online, but this one does fit in well with the whole Ask Jeeves 'the internet can answer any question' philosophy. Hopefully, it will become a well-linked, few hundred hits a day site; maybe the odd travel agent will keep it open on their desk: just a case of keeping the data accurate and the graphics straightforward.