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It’s hard to believe Semester One is all over bar the assessment. In the last week or so, we’ve been busy tweaking the web site design and trying to link in with other book lovers and relevant organisations and companies.

Our starting point was giving our family and friends with the URL and pleas to visit the site and provide feedback. I’ve also emailed the Society of Editors about letting members know about the site and asked  the course co-ordinator for Publishing and Editing to email the relevant students and lecturers. There’s a few industry organisations that we could contact as well – Vic Writers Centre, Australian Society of Authors, Wheeler Centre, to name a few.

Social media newtorking sites have been very useful for letting people know the site exists and what it offers. We’ve had a Facebook page for a few weeks and gained about 17 fans. So, I set up a  ‘friend’ account and have acquired 98 ‘friends’ in just over 24 hours. Not bad going, if I do say so! The majority of these are people who I have assumed are in our demographic as Melburnians interested in books – from fan pages for the Melb Writers Festival, the Wheeler Centre etc. Need to be very careful not to contravene spamming protocol though – I guess if people don’t want to accept the friend request, they can ignore it. Hmmm…

We also have a Twitter account which has a decent-sized following and it’s really only taken a week to gain 73 followers but it’s harder to find people and organisations on Twitter. Time for further investigation of Tweet Deck I guess.

Pretty good results, all told. Most of our traffic is coming from the social media sites at this point. The URL has been submitted to several search engines but that will take a while to come into effect.

I’m also focussing on improving the presentation of the events posts so they’re easier to read and not just a mass of text on the page.

We’re still a work-in-progress and that’s the beauty of having a website – it’s easy to change and build on the foundations in the early stages.

Number 41?

It was hard to miss WordPress (via the home page) patting four of its bloggers on the back for getting the thumbs-up in The Times’ ‘Bloggers Who Count’ article.

Four out of 40 blogs named ain’t bad and now I’m wondering if our uni. group blog has the potential to capture the world’s, or even just a Melbourne suburb’s, attention.

There’s no real indication (aside from popularity in part) how The Times decided these blogs counted but it’s worth noting most of them were about fashion, food and celebrity gossip. Only one blog was about books – Maud Newton -and this blog has been around for seven years. Not really a fan of Maud’s writing style – it’s a bit clumsy and hard to follow on first read. Mind you, I could have a case of the-pot-calling-the-kettle-black because, when it comes down to time limits, my writing isn’t always clear. Kudos to Maud for the hard work and staying power though – it’s not easy for mere mortals to make their mark on the net.

I’m not interested in chasing accolades but I think a close examination of the blogs discussed in the article will be necessary in the very near future.

In the meantime, our website has been ‘live’ for nearly two weeks and everyone in the group has continued coming up with content for the site. I’ve been doing the events section, and in the last five days, also focussing on getting traffic to the site. I’ve spread the word to friends, family and professional contacts in order to get people on the site and provide feedback.

I’m also trying to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter and Brizzly to raise traffic and awareness. The results so far haven’t been overwhelming but that only means looking at our strategy and being patient. A bucketload of money thrown into it wouldn’t hurt but that’s not something our group has the ability to do. That said, if we want to commercialise the site, then an advertising strategy would be essential.

I’ve also set up a free web analysis widget on the site StatsCounter which has lots of stats available that aren’t supplied in WordPress blogs. It’s an alternative to Google Analytics, at least.

Open Book Melbourne is almost ready to launch and the group is feverishly working on creating content for the site. We still have plenty to incorporate into the site but we have the foundations of the end product set in stone. It’s helped that we have completed our second assignment – commissioned feature articles – and received some feedback from our lecturer.

PROTOTYPE!! This is a very exciting milestone and I must take my hat off to Briony who took wordpress by the horns and created the prototype for the site. She’s done a great job and it’s fantastic to see our group’s ‘brainstorming’ come to fruition on the screen. We’ve set our launch date for Monday 10th May so we’ve also delegated and organised who will be writing what for the first four weeks from the launch. In the meantime, we’re all beavering away on our second assignments as well which is to commission a feature article, and be commissioned to write a feature article, for our site.

Chugging along nicely…

The website project is moving full steam ahead as the launch deadline gets closer. The group has decided on a name, hosting method and to do a blog each weekday on a particular topic. We’re still discussing our target audience as well which we generally agree on. I reckon our goal needs some fine tuning so we have a clear strategy for content and design. Our web proposal assignments helped this process and we’re all conscious of the short time frame in which we’re working. That said, we’re all pretty motivated and committed to the project so am sure we will reach a consensus soon. We’re generally like-minded which makes the process pretty smooth. Will be interesting to see where we are this time next week!

Good Friday, Good Week

Our group website project is gaining momentum – we’re getting closer to making the big decisions such as a domain name, a content managment system and the purpose, content and design of the site. A few of us seem keen on the idea of commercialising the site. We’re all very conscious of not creating too much work for ourselves too. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I bet Google wasn’t either!
Some of the research I’ve been doing on the net is promising in terms of the site filling a gap in the market. This will help my web proposal assignment but is also a long overdue and necessary first step in deciding if the idea is worth pursuing. Granted, everyone else probably knew this already but it doesn’t hurt to confirm it for yourself! 😀

Books R Us

We’re well and truly in the thick of developing our website project and ideas in the group are buzzing left, right and centre. I’m part of a group which is going to build a site giving Melburnians information about local bookstores and literary events. A major benefit of working as a group is being able to pool our resources and share our research, experience and knowledge.
Wordpress is a much easier beasty to use than Dreamweaver – see ‘Technofear’ blog. In fairness to ‘weaver, I might as well be comparing apples and oranges. Or maybe it’s a roundabout way of admitting my own skills deficit when it comes to learning and using internet code. Ahem.