The new site is here at last! What you see is the first step toward a number of changes that are on the way over the coming weeks and months. Through these we're aiming to provide a more solid base for the site to work with into 2009 and beyond. While there will be some new destinations coming online, more importantly you can expect a better depth of content on the site from now on.
There are still some loose ends we're tying up, but we needed to get the new framework open before the traffic ramps up Sunday night. We figured it was now or in another week's time, and to be honest I don't think I could have faced another week buried in fish code. So here it is, warts and all!
Just a few warnings off the bat: is still some misformatted text, primarily in the food section, but we will be sorting that out in the coming hours. If you see any other oddities, please let me know!
Also, we're a PC household so have only been able to do very limited testing on Macs (thanks Charly!). If you're enlightened enough to use a Mac and happen to see any display problems, please please please let me know!
A few quick thank yous: Thanks to Sam (that's Mrs Travelfish to you!) (ed: You're welcome) and the two kids for not complaining about not seeing me for the last three weeks or so. We'll go to the beach tomorrow -- promise! (ed: Sure!)
Thanks also to Nicole Furi at Usable Jungle (http://www.usablejungle.com) for her suggestion of a redesign, which is what originally got this on the road. Her input in the early stages was invaluable. If you're in the market for an information architect, I can't recommend her highly enough.
Also, thanks to Andrew for his testing, advice and banter -- though I'm sorry mate, I'm still not changing "The Bottom Line" text.
Now on to the good stuff!
The entire site has been recoded and redesigned with two main goals in mind: To make it quicker and easier for Travelfish readers to find what they're after and to give them more useful functions on the site.
*First things first: Navigation.*
No longer will Travelfish readers have to have degrees in Southeast Asian geography in order to find places you're looking for on the site. On the old site, everything was arranged in a country->region->province->location hierarchy. That seemed sensible to us at the time, but not to just about anybody else because it meant, for instance, that to be able to find Nha Trang in Vietnam you had to know it was in Vietnam, on the south central coast and in Khanh Hoa province (it was the last jump that always threw people). Now all you need to know is it's in Vietnam and by mousing over the menus on the left, you'll see everywhere on the site in Vietnam is no more than a click away.
The navbars on the left may be a little slow to load in Internet Explorer: You have to wait for the whole page to load before they'll work -- so be patient -- or better still, change your browser to Firefox!
*Navigation part two*
We've added a new level of navigation at the top that gives you quick hops to our destination planning section and to the Shop for our swanky Travelfish Guides. The destination planning section will be expanding quite a bit shortly.
You noticed huh? Yes, it's much bigger text. Maybe I'm getting old, but I reckon this is a lot easier on the eyes. It's in two columns, so for lengthy sections there will be some scrolling, but for the shorter pages, none at all.
We've added a "beginners section" that can be accessed via the country page for each country. It includes basic stuff like visa and border crossing information and other very basic trip planning issues
*New content part two*
Not new content so much as new sections. We've added "Orientation" on a destination basis. In that you'll find vital information such as bank hours, internet cafe addresses and what not. It isn't there for all places, rather just ones that needed it. For small places, it may remain in the old introduction as before.
*New content part three*
We'll be adding two main sections for most destinations in coming days: "Onwards destinations" to suggest where you should go next and "Our recommendations", some shots from the hip on particular places.
*New content part four*
Yes, it just keeps coming. We'll be bringing the work of some very talented bloggers into the site. They're just tasters really as their work will still primarily be on their own sites, but we're hoping to point you in the right direction of some real writing talent. That said, if you reckon you fall into that category (the talented blogger one) contact Samantha at sambrown @ travelfish.org.
*New content part five*
OK, no more after this, but we've redone the islands page so it now covers islands in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It's a veritable one-stop-shop for island and beach lovers!
Our ratings now better take into account ratings for accommodation. This should lead to better shifting opinions as places go up- and downhill.
Travelfish is a travel website so let's paint a pretty picture! You'll see more and more pix coming onto the site in the coming weeks as we upload our collection to Flickr. And if you want your photos to appear on Travelfish, it's far easier than travelling overland from Luang Prabang to Hanoi. All you need do is upload them into our Flickr pool. I'll write a more detailed post about that later on, but the pictures are something we're quite excited about. The pool is here if you can't wait for me to write about it.
*New photos two*
At the moment static pix like the long one at the top and the left hand box don't change, but they will -- rotating you through yet more beautiful pictures of the countries.
First the bad news. All your old eFish are gone. The good news is you can generate them again. We're very sorry about that, but we needed to nuke the old ones as a part of the upgrade.
*New Member Centre*
The Member Centre has a bunch of new features including:
You can edit your comments
You can track all your reservation enquiries made through Travelfish
You can rate how quickly a place got back in touch with you
You can track your forum posts
You can manage your eFish
You can access your Travelfish Guides
You can manage your scrapbook (which you are going to be able to print soon).
You'll see the forum should be a bit easier to use, and for regular posters, we're now using BB code which means you can post links, bold, italics etc. This becomes available only after you've passed a certain posting threshold (in order to keep spammers a bit under control).
We've revamped the reviewing process, which should make it a little easier to post reviews. The reviews are also displayed in a different manner -- still a bit of a work in progress here.
Big news here. You'll notice here and there across the site a "Search for accommodation" feature which will allow you to search for accommodation in a particular destination (on a country basis). What is very cool about this though is that now you're not only searching the places listed on Travelfish, but also those listed with some of our reservation partners -- at the moment HostelWorld, Agoda, WHL and Sawasdee. What this means is that you're searching a pool of over 5,000 properties -- and, as many of the places listed on Travelfish are listed nowhere else online, you're getting a pretty comprehensive little searching tool. You can sort by name, Travelfish rating or cost -- by default it only searches places that can be booked online, but you can change that setting to search the whole kit and caboodle.
*More to come*
Yes, and there's still more to come -- but I'll sign off for now and open the site. If you come across any problems at all with the new site, please post the problems in this thread so I can look into them
Thanks again to everyone supporting Travelfish.
hey i was so surprised to see your new look. congratulations. gives me more reasons to navigate the site coz the content is highlighted more.
kudos and keep up the good job!
#6 carlocargo has been a member since 20/4/2007. Posts: 22
The new web site format is great - and I feel a lot easier to move around in it.
Good result for a lot of re work
#7 rgmskm has been a member since 29/6/2004. Posts: 2
Brilliant changes to TravelFish.org
I find it much easier to navigate around.
I may be blind and not seeing it, but would it be an idea to add a 'Map' link to each individual page i.e. the Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam etc etc main page.
Also I am using a Mac to view this website, been surfing it for about 1/2 an hour now and I have yet to see any viewing problems.
Thanks for a brilliant site.
jareduk - thanks for the comment -- much appreciated.
Yes, more links for the maps are a good idea -- thanks.
Glad you like the site!
Found a page that does not load properly using a Mac and Safari Browser.
the adverts that usually appear on the right i.e. sky scanner, world nomads etc appear smack bang in front of the map.
Thanks for the heads up -- if you could let me know if the page looks better now, I'd really appreciate it.
Call me strange but I liked the last one better.
#16 riverspot has been a member since 3/1/2008. Posts: 25
The new site looks great!
Have you guys made some changes to the Home Page today? Things have gone a bit screwy today!
The page has doubled in width - the banner is centered across the wider page. The 'Where are you going today' links and the message board are now off screen to the right. The menu bar, and Before You Leave/Buy a TF Guide lists are in their normal position.
Problem is only occurring in Chrome - appears OK in Firefox. I've been on the site daily over the last few days and haven't noticed a problem until today.
Thanks for the heads up -- it is fixed now. We're currently making some changes to try and make the site a bit more usable for people on lower resolution (800*600) screens. I forgot to test it in Chrome.
What did you prefer about the old version -- we're still making changes to this new design, so if you give me a bit more info, may be able to assist.
I'm not sure if this is a bug, but the food places for chau doc and can tho won't display on the web pages, although it does come out when I generate the appropriate eFish.
Btw, I like how the new site displays on mobile devices like iPods and iPhones - very pleasing.
But is there any way to have the site remember who I am so I don't have to log in everytime I post? I don't have this issue with other websites.
#19 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116
Hey amazon -- thanks for the heads up on the food -- I thought they'd all been switched over to the new system -- will get fixed next coupla days.
I had no idea the site would even work on an iPod/iPhone, so I'm rather chuffed to hear they look ok!
Login, yes, the reason it doesn't "remember" you is because many use the site at internet cafes, and we thought was easier to have it automatically log you out, rather than you needing to remember to logout.
found a link with content missing - the map of north east vietnam
Just wanted to let you know that in the "Jump to a destination" section, when trying to jump to Nang Rong it goes to an overview of Northeastern Thailand page. I'll be heading to Nang Rong in a few days, and am hoping to find some accommodation info.
Yeah, that shouldn't be happening, Nang Rong got closed off in the newsite.
A good place to stay is California GH (believe me, there's nowhere further from CA than Nang Rong) See their website for more info: http://www.geocities.com/california8gh/
There's also the place mentioned in this thread I've not seen it, but it sounds ok, and certainly a lot better than the place I stayed at yonkers ago, which was "downtown" -- Nang Rong isn't a big place, from memory it was a couple of blocks off the highway... I don't think it even had a name, but some local lunatic with an electric guitar joined us in the room till about 3am ... ahhh northeast Thaialnd I miss it so!
I'm new to this site and this is probably a dumb question, but where can I access the information I'm putting in my scrapbook?
#27 danceswithrose has been a member since 12/10/2010. Posts: 20
You need to login (at the top) then click on the Member Centre link (a link also at the very top of the page). On the Member Centre page, scroll down (a looong way down), and you will see the Scrapbook section. This will be changing again once Somtam releases the new and improved website - for the better! Not sure when though... it can't be TOO far away.
Somtam, I got all excited when I got the 'Subscribe thread' notification. I was just about all the way to the bottom of your very long first post before I realised that things weren't making sense, and that it was for the release back in 2009! Sigh...
Thanks for the help! Aaaaawwweesome site you have here. I've been on it all day getting really good information on Thailand/Cambodia. Looking forward to giving feedback on the accommodation we use!
#29 danceswithrose has been a member since 12/10/2010. Posts: 20
Congratulations on the new site! Very stylish!!
#30 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 110
Thanks! This is actually an old thread from the previous redesign, so I'm locking it. The new redesign thread and bug reports etc is here.
This discussion has been locked by a moderator.