Website Updates – Columbus Zip Code Map

I’ve been busy making some great improvements to the Pawfect Lounge: Pet Connection website!

Design/User Experience

I picked a cleaner, professional theme for the home page (blog), and I’d like to carry that over to the business search page as well, or at least continue improving the design. Let me know if you have any feedback for the design and user experience of the site.

Mapping/Geocoding Businesses

I’ve added a map to the pages where a business is added to/edited in the system. When you enter the address and then move the input focus to another field, an asynchronous service call is made to the Bing Map control to map the address you just entered. The latitude and longitude of the business is stored in the database. If the business does not publish its exact address (e.g. for home-based businesses that visit client’s homes), just enter the city/town that is in the center of the business’ served areas. The business will be mapped to the center of the town. Storing the latitude and longitude in the database prevents us from needing to map the businesses on-the-fly after performing a search. This should make it much more efficient.

Zip Code Map

Since many businesses do not post an exact address, and rather just give a number of zip codes or towns they serve, I’ve added a zip code map of Columbus, Ohio. This can be found as a separate link in the main navigation menu.

No Reviews or Ratings

I’ve decided to give up on creating yet another review site for the businesses. Instead, I’d like to make it more of a social networking tool. For the business you find, you can find links to all of the review websites and social networks it can be found on. That way you can check out which ones you’re interested in, and do your own research on the reputation of the business. Eventually it would be nice to pull the data from all the review sites behind-the-scenes and display the results in one section of the business details page. But this would mean that the sites would need to offer a way for me to query for the data, and it would take a lot of time to process the different data sets.

I’m still working on improving the design of the results page. I’ve added some scripts so that the map follows along when you scroll up and down. Then you can click the ‘Zoom’ link on a business, and not have to scroll back up to the top to see the map. I still need to add some sort of paging function so the list doesn’t get too long. As always, let me know if you have any feedback! Thanks for using the site!

Latest Pet Industry Trends for 2010

Trends for the pet industry and services look promising for 2010. Read the article on

Some of the items they mention are:

  • Pet parents continue to spend on supplies and OTC medicine thoughtfully
  • Pet services for your pets continue to grow
  • Growing interest in pet health care
  • Pet businesses and non-profits thrive socially
  • Increased online sophistication from pet-related businesses in ecommerce, design, and usability
  • Pet-related blogs continue to grow their influence

I’ve also read that pet-related services are somewhat recession-resistant overall. I’m guessing it depends on the particular service though, whether people think it is a luxury.

Finding the Best Sites

As I mentioned in my first post, the number of websites out there with resources, advice, and pet finder services is overwhelming. With the increase in social and ecommerce sites, we’ll want to make sure it’s easy to find the websites with the best and most relevant information to what you’re looking for, and skip over the user-unfriendly or unhelpful ones.

BlogPaws 2010 Meetup for Pet Bloggers

I found a great site the other day that helps pet bloggers connect with each other and the community, called BlogPaws. It provides online resources to assist those who blog about pet-related topics. Resources include:

  • increasing traffic to your blog
  • strategies for content development
  • photography tips
  • SEO
  • networking
  • using social media

BlogPaws 2010 Meetup

They are hosting the first ‘meetup’ for these bloggers in a pet blogger conference, BlogPaws 2010 on April 9th and 10th. This event is for existing, new, or aspiring pet bloggers and marketers and PR professionals who would like to work with the online pet community. It does not appear to be free; there was an “early bird” fee of $99 through January 15th. I find it unfortunate that the cost would be so high. That is a major deterrent for me to attend. I would think they could get some great sponsorships and make the cost lower or even free, like a Podcamp (Podcamp Ohio is a free annual event for any bloggers and podcasters). But I think the concept and website is terrific! What do you think?