Friday, August 27, 2010

Zamami English Guide [dot com]

I get paid to do something nobody else on this island can do.  But it's still pretty easy for me.  It's a fun job and I do my job, but I have a fair bit of excess time and sometimes feel guilty about being paid so well to do something that is so easy for me.

So in an effort to do something for the wider community utilizing my scarce resource, I hatched a plan to build an English website to help foreigners plan their trips here.  I've spent much of this summer break going through my photo archives, then making trips around the islands to gather the pictures I didn't yet have.  I've typed up descriptions of everything and gathered pricing for all the restaurants and most of the hotels with English-speaking staff.  The project was more work than I'd anticipated, but not frustratingly so.  With the help of my friend Wren, I was able to get it online last week.

Along the way I've learned to build a website, albeit through a software program.  You'll see that my layout is simple (on purpose) and in some places boring (because I don't know how to make it exciting yet). But that and the few remaining missing pictures are my only caveats.  Please go take a look and get back to me on how I can make it better!  (If you have better layout ideas for the "Places To Stay" and "Restaurants" pages, please tell me.)


Saxtor said...

This is awesome. I love these labors of love. I remember when I was traveling in Japan in 07, I would have LOVED to have come up with sites like this. As an English visitor, the English-accessible info was often next-to-useless, and always poorly formatted. This is wonderful!

A couple suggestions:
1) For each of the restaurants, you might add 3-5 items from the menu, and prices or price range (eg. $ - $$$$). I'm not expecting a full-on review like this, but something a bit more along these lines to get an idea what the place is about.
2) the site looks a-ok on my 1280x resolution, but shrinking it much smaller doesn't seem to work well. It might be better (and look a bit better overall as well) to format the page for 800x or 1024x, or figure out how to get it to reflow regardless of screen-size (a la your blog, which I realize is blogger, and built on a bit more collective expertise than a self-made site).

Anonymous said...

Please add a bulletin board so that
someone can ask question about specific accomodation or activity.

Also, it is nice to see someone's experience during his(her) stay in Zamami Islands.

But you have to be carefull about spam.
I think appearance of the comment should be admited by you.

Dave said...

Saxtor, Thanks for the feedback. Really. I like your idea for giving pricing ideas for the restaurants. Most of the restaurants have pretty similar prices (we're talking like a ¥100-200 difference from top to bottom), but many have similar items. Maybe I can do something like list the price of an item that most of them carry (like ramen) to highlight the difference, and then also tack on one or two specialty items? I am concerned about making that page too long, though, so I will need to work out a different format.

On formatting.. I don't think I quite understand? When I open the page and then resize the window, the center (text area) will automatically center itself until I make the window too narrow, then it will just cut off. Do you mean do something to prevent that cut off?

I am hesitant to add a bulletin board since I will be the only person answering questions. I just don't think there's enough of a community out there to regularly respond to queries and I don't want to sign myself up for doing that alone. Though I do agree that having a place for people to leave comments on their stay would be nice. For now I think the "Contact Me" form will have to work. if I hear good or bad comments I can adjust the reviews, which I've already noted with a few restaurants.

Thanks for your input!

Saxtor said...

Re: the formatting issue:
yeah, that's my concern. It seems that the width resolution before it starts to cut off is too wide. Here is a screenshot of what I'm talking about. You see I have a number of tabs open. I clicked through all of those and resized my window to get the average minimum size where the main content could still be readable. Of them, two experienced similar issues as yours, and the content was unreadable without scrolling to the side. A couple others cut off the ads on the sidebar or some other inconsequential information, but in all but two, the main content was 100% readable at that size. If you can figure out a way to make the main content readable at a smaller window size, I think your website will be greatly improved. The top navbar could also be trimmed, but I consider that less important than the page content.

I know this guy hand codes his webpage, which reflows to any window size. Perhaps you can garner something out of his page source to help.

Aside from this presentation issue, your site does in fact rock.