I had planned my Lakeland.net review for today, but I’ve decided to put it off until the “official site opening” on March 1st. It’s too early to judge the design or operation. Each day it is easy to see they’re doing fixes and updates.
I’ve had a couple of emails with Bart Ross, one of the owners of Lakeland.Net. He help clarify some things about the site:
• Lakeland.net is a for-profit with Ross and a partner as owners. Ross is a lifelong resident of Lakeland.
• On business listings Ross wrote, “Any business that has a brick and mortar location can be listed as long as they are in Polk County. We will not do home based businesses because of the issues with locations.”
• On ad costs Ross wrote, “Job listings and classifieds may be a paid service later, but we are not sure yet. We may just use the free plus model again, but we are really hoping the community responds and will help drive our site and what it has to offer.”
• On possible features Ross wrote, “There are lots of features currently planned, including a community calendar, a new profile system that will allow users to have public or private profiles, searchable restaurant menus, etc. With that said we hope the community will help us determine what THEY want to see. Our site is here to serve them and us as people that live in the community.”
I have played with the site a few times. I think it’s well-designed and could be very useful. Of course, as they play with the code before the official opening, I have a couple of suggestions:
1) Focus on unique content. The news page is nice, but nothing we can’t find on the Ledger or any of a thousand other websites.
2) Really highlight your planned not-for-profit listings. It would be wonderful to have an easily accessible central place to them.
3) How about a “new since you last logged-in” feature. That site could get so busy you’d miss a lot of new content.
4) My pet peeve — almost anonymous posting. The Ledger already has a huge forum. Make yours different. Insist on real names. People should be able to stand behind what they post.
5) Add the City of Lakeland’s URL to your Lakeland Government re-direct page.
That’s all for now. Look to the first week of March for a full review.