Lightweight Backpacking Website Research
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Johnny Wilson
(JohnnyWilson) - F
Lightweight Backpacking Website Research on 11/06/2005 13:08:30 MST Print View

Hello everyone!

Just hoping that some of you may be able to assist me in my research.
I am currently working on a project to assess the features and functions most wanted for an lightweight backpacking website.
This would include things such as "Site Index/Map", online forum, user reviews, etc.

Basically anything that you would like to see on a site. It may be something you like about an existing site, or something that you would like to see improved, or even tell me about things that should be avoided like the plague.

I appreciate any input you have.

Thanks!

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
lightweight backpacking websites... on 11/06/2005 13:53:35 MST Print View

Hi,

About the only reason I can think of for such research is that you are considering launching such a website yourself, or are working for someone who is. That's okay with me.

In that case you are asking the wrong questions.

Technical features aren't really what makes any lightweight backpacking website interesting or not. Content is. So good and frequently updated articles are important. A user community that is interesting and often well-informed and welcoming is important. Really that's why I am willing to subscribe to this site.

I don't know how much room there is for more lightweight backpacking web sites. Although if you really want to, I'd consider some degree of specialization or careful positioning to make your site different.

A couple of ideas on that positioning... There is a large population of active yet older people out there. A lot of them went backpacking in their younger days. Their kids are now in highskool or college. They probably aren't in as good a shape as when they were younger, though. Finding those people and giving them a gentle introduction to lightweight backpacking is a great idea. Bluntly, too, that is a crowd that will instincively be turned off by the distance-hiking crowd and probably has vehemently rejected the whole lightweight backpacking thing because they don't want to walk twenty-five or thirty miles in a day. Think about how many outdoor magazines really focus on newbies... Another idea is to have a very explicit regional focus to your site. That limits your market in one sense, but in another sense it becomes the place to go for detailed information on what works in that area... Still another idea is to focus almost exclusively on MYOG.

There are lots of other good ideas. Good ideas are cheap, really. You are closer to whatever problem it is you want to solve and can come up with your own answers. Chances are you will have more and better ideas than I can spoon-feed to you here.

Good luck in your research.

Johnny Wilson
(JohnnyWilson) - F
Re: on 11/06/2005 18:03:17 MST Print View

I'm not really starting a website. It's for a class project on information architecture. It's all theoretical, so any info would help.

Thanks for your input!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Lightweight Backpacking Website Research on 11/06/2005 20:54:33 MST Print View

One feature that would be helpful is a list of FAQ's -- arranged by subject.

The folks who never use the search button will probably skip over the FAQ's and just post the same questions anyway... but for folks who prefer to do some lookup, they can learn a lot -- and learn systematically -- via FAQ's.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Lightweight Backpacking Website Research on 11/07/2005 04:54:30 MST Print View

I'd say that this site has pretty much everything one would want / need but it is poorly designed and poorly laid out (sorry BPL). A better version of BPL would be a starting point. Also, one thing I think that is lacking on all sites is a recipies section. Very little attention is paid to cooking for backpacking... and it's one of the biggest parts of backpacking... unless you just go with freeze dried.

Johnny Wilson
(JohnnyWilson) - F
Re: on 11/07/2005 09:56:12 MST Print View

Is there any particular aspect(s) of this site you want to see improved that you can elaborate on?

Too much info/options? Too cluttered? (That what it kind of looks like to me)

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: on 11/07/2005 10:26:21 MST Print View

The most glaring thing is the way the articles in the Techniques, Features and Editorials sections are presented. Way too much teaser info and a horrible two coulmn layout that leaves huge gaps all over the page. It's extremely hard to scan. It should be in a 1 column summary list format... i.e.

Headline
blah blah blah blah click for more...

Headline
blah blah blah blah click for more...

Headline
blah blah blah blah click for more...

Etc.

Also, they should be dated! It's very hard to know what is new information. Furthermore. the site suffers a great deal from inconsitant layouts. Reviews and Spotlites for instance have a completely different layout.

And in general the site just seems messy and confusing... very overwhelming and uninviting for new users. I recall feeling that way myself when I first found this site. And I'm no luddite! I'm a 37 year old IT professional who spends every day in front of a computer designing and building web sites and print materials. I stuck with the site thought because it clearly had TONS of awesome information that I could get no where else. And I've gotten used to the site. But it could be much better from an interface design point of view.

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
Re: Re: on 11/08/2005 07:28:12 MST Print View

At the risk of being flamed:

I think the contributors are great.
The articles are fantastic.
The fora are helpful.
But........
I find the graphics and layout here sometimes hard to navigate. There is too much "stuff" on the home page or front page for my tastes.

that said, I just renewed my subscription so overall I am very content.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: on 11/11/2005 21:41:39 MST Print View

No risk of flames. Thanks for your feedback. We are in the midst of a major nav redesign, especially in terms of site search, index page layout, etc.

You are going to see incremental changes in the coming months that you'll catch here and there, but as is the case, six months from now, I hope you look back and say, wow, the old site really sucked!