Volunteer or Adopt – Pet Promise

I came across the website for Pet Promise (http://petpromise.org) last year and submitted a volunteer application for volunteering my web development skills that they said were needed. But I never heard back. So I’m going to try again and also try to go to the board/volunteer meeting tomorrow. I hope to volunteer my web development skills to help improve and maintain their website. I think it would be rewarding to help make pet adoption and information websites more user-friendly and enhanced with features that make it easy to find the perfect pet for you. If you are in the Columbus, Ohio area and are also interested in volunteer opportunities for a no-kill animal organization, I hope to see you there! Check out the Pet Promise meeting schedule.

Dog Photos on Websites and Social Networks

My daughter loves using the computer when I’m trying to as well, so I’ve started showing her how to Google things she might recognize, like dogs! While performing a search, I came across several websites and social networks for dog lovers out there! I think that a lot of them can be improved (if you’re one of them and are looking for web development/web design help, please contact me!) but they still have some great concepts. They are all nation-wide or based in other parts of the country, so it can be hard finding other dogs in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Niche Photos of Dogs

Upside Down Dogs – some really funny photos here
Dogs in Pools – I think most dogs love water, as long as it’s not a bath!
Strange Dogs – a small blog with only a few pictures
Flickr Groups on Dogs – just perform a search for what you’re looking for

Videos of Dogs and Animals

YouTube – search for the animal you’re interested in
PetTube – videos all about pets and animals!

The Ideal Social Network for Pets

I was wondering what types of sites are out there for animal-lovers to show off pictures of their pets, brag about tricks, and display a profile of their pet’s personality. Since Facebook is mighty popular, perhaps there’s a popular site for pets?!? The perfect pet social networking site would be integrated with many different other sites as well. For example, a pet profile page would contain links to the pet businesses or products that pet uses, and pets would give reviews! A feature that I would love is being able to search by location and see which pets are close to you, in your own neighborhood! Perhaps they could arrange play dates with other local pets!

Existing Social Networks for Pets

I found a couple sites without even searching for ‘pet social network’ specifically. I’ve registered on them, so look for Trusty Paws!
Join Pets – They have some great articles, photo gallery, pet profiles, business listings, and information on breeds! Wow. I don’t think you can search for a business by location, and they are only in NY or CA. But they have 80 pet sitters and 81 dog walkers!
Total Paws – this website doesn’t appear to have as many pet profiles or users on it quite yet, and still has some bugs. You can join a Group to post pictures, videos, or participate in discussions.

Now I’m actually doing a search on ‘pet social network’ and found an article (Bloggers Blog) that lists several of them — although they do NOT come up in the first page of Google search!:
Dogster.com – around since 2004, has 180,000 members!!
Catster.com – 76,000 members
Hamsterster.com less than 1000 members
Petster.com 11,000 members
Backwash Pets

These do come up in the Google search:
Petzume 202 profiles, 164 pets?; photo albums, blog articles, groups, videos; with comments and voting
MyPetFriends.biz – community page is NOT user friendly at all, but claims to have 2884 users. Only provides a search for user, not able to browse pet photos. Has a nice section on blog articles, a blog per species.
Petizens – make a webpage for your pet by drag-and-drop photos, videos, etc. Has a nice search feature by location and breed. Has a Scratchpost that functions like Facebook’s Wall, and you get gain levels, points, Petopian$, and crowns. They seem to have tons of members.

Some were referenced by articles on the first Google page:
MyDogSpace, MyCatSpace
United Dogs and United Cats are in several different languages
Cute As Hell lets users rate pets on their cuteness factor, to compete for Cutest pet. It also includes reviews on shopping.

And others that still made it to the bottom of the first Google page:
Pet-Files, LoveMyPets, and PetCrash

So you can see the market for ‘Dog or Pet Social Networking Sites’ is very saturated! I really don’t see how some of the newer, smaller networks will be able to survive. If I were you, I’d probably pick the largest network to join (Dogster? although it seems to focus on providing articles and resources rather than connecting pet owners). What sites are you a member of? Let us know your comments or reviews of any of these sites!

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!