Thursday, March 10, 2011

Website Content - Make it interesting!

Have you thought about the content you will be posting to your overland website?
In this blog post, I provide my thoughts on overland website content and provide a few examples of websites which I think work well.  This compliments the website tools article and the audio podcast recorded in 2011.

One of the benefits that I have managing the The Africa Overland Network is that I get to see a lot of website design and especially the type of content generated.

Here are a few thoughts that I have on content:

Who is your audience?
Is it your family and direct friends or are you aiming on reaching the broader audience?

Are you planning on sharing information to the current or future independent overlander?

If it is, consider the following information:
  • Organise your journal per country, per date, which makes it easy to find specific country information
  • Categorise your preparation phase into topics like vehicle, paperwork, finances, medical etc
  • Detail your route information with maps, route planning and if possible GPS track logs. Consider supplying GPS logs to Tracks4Africa

Consider the armchair traveler:
It makes dull reading when a journal states… ‘today we drove from A to C, and stopped to buy bread at B’
Consider elaborating and mentioning the person selling the bread, the dusty roadside sign and possibly an interesting conversation. Make it personal and interesting.
If brave enough, add an element of emotion. How are you feeling and why do you feel that way?


Mixing Media:
Consider using the concept of a photo journal – integrating photos into your journal rather than keeping your photo albums independent of your journal updates. Make the photos the focal point of the day.

Digital Content:
Consider adding video to your website – short video clips are a good way of sharing the experience.

Add a Podcast series – see Listen to Africa for a good overview.
Add a Twitter account - an easy way to spread your news & adventures.
Add a Facebook Fan page for those not interested in visiting your website daily but do spend hours on Facebook.

A few examples:

Emphasis on Story telling:

The benefits of this website is the story. The audience gets involved in your journey chapter by chapter.
Example: In and Out of Africa





Emphasis on Photo Journal:
The benefits of providing photo journal updates is the fact that updates can occur almost daily (provided internet connectivity is available) and that the emphasis is on photos recording the days activity.

Southing.com provided an excellent example dating back to their East Africa trip in 2003. BigSky Adventures and RoamingYak copied the format.
Example: Southing.com




Emphasis on Blog-style updates:

Updating your website via blogger or wordpress provides date organised entry. Integrating photos is easily done however the emphasis is on text.
Finding information is generally easy as both websites offer search functionality, however, it is often difficult to categorise your entries in an alternative format rather than date.



Summary:

In summary, consider your audience when planning your website and be bold with the content. Make the time whilst on your overland adventure to capture your thoughts, take those additional photos and to share your experiences. Journaling whilst you travel is much easier than attempting to record your thoughts and experiences once your trip is over.

If you are still in the early days of thinking about your website, here are a few online tools which might assist in getting you online quicker: Website Tools

The Overland Live Podcast recently featured Website design - view the Show Notes.
















Additional Reading: