I Toured the New Localism Today! Here are my initial impressions
I was contacted yesterday by Bob Stewart, who asked if I would be interested in seeing the soon-to-be-launched new Localism (coming to a browser near you on July 9th!). Of course, I jumped at the chance, and I spent about half an hour on the phone with Bob and Jonathan Washburn this afternoon going over the new site, as they shared their vision with me. As an aside, I also learned that Jon's profile picture was taken right here in Austin during a marathon a few months ago. Cool!
First and foremost, I would like to thank them both for taking the time to conduct this orientation with me. After taking the "tour" and having spent some solo time cruising around there over the past hour or so, I am duly impressed and excited.
Suffice it to say that the new Localism bears virtually no resemblance to the clunky beta version. The old Localism was confusing and difficult to navigate, while Localism nouveau is sleek and inviting, as well as supremely easy to navigate, in my opinion. The clean design is minimalist in a way that causes the member-generated content to stand out more dramatically.
I found the navigation to be very intuitive and user-friendly (I guess those are kind of the same thing, now that I think about it). At any rate, it was very easy to find my way around. Having recently launched my own newly designed site, I know what a difference having a "sticky" site makes. In other words, the more attractive and easy-to-navigate sites with lots of content will bring people back in droves.
Basically, the old Localism served its purpose as a utilitarian container for our content, but the new Localism will likely become one of the top real estate sites around. I don't think I know anyone who is sad to see the old version go away. Please see my mental picture of the old and new Localism to the left.
At this point, it is much easier for me to imagine the home page of Localism as a destination site for consumers, especially once it has been up and running for awhile and the word-of-mouth begins to spread. I think they mentioned that it is currently getting about 12,000 visits per day, but I would guess that this number will be far higher very soon.
During our conversation, Jon shared several of the design strategies that will make the new site more SEO-friendly. I won't bore you with the details, but clearly this is a HUGE bonus and one more reason that I love this network. I have already had quite a few contacts from my local information posts, but I have a feeling that this will happen far more often in the upcoming months.
Just in case you needed any further motivation to write consumer-driven material, this should serve as a terrific catalyst for you. I can hardly wait for this to launch, because I think the platform is far more appealing for the average home buyer or seller surfing for real estate information. My understanding is that there will also be more opportunities for local community involvement on the forum, which is an awesome concept.
Of course, part of the preview came with my promise not to share anything overly proprietary (screen shots, URLs, etc.), but the launch date is only six days away, so everyone will see it very soon. Prepare to be impressed.
I am thrilled to be involved at the ground level of this marketing opportunity. Just think - someday we will all be able to say, "I was there when Localism first launched." How cool is that?