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I think that this website is an extremely useful way of keeping in touch with what is happening in and around Castebar but I have a number of comments which I hope will be taken as constructive criticism I appreciate that the site is intended to be viewed as an online newspaper but I think that the structure of the home page could be improved ensuring that only the most recent information appears - setting a deadline for the removal of outdated headlines. This would assist in keeping the page to a reasonable length (rather like a magazine instead of a broadsheet!). Also I feel that the contents (at a glance...) should appear at all times on every page for easy navigation. There is a vast quantity of information on the site, some of which is not being updated - at times it appears to be almost out of control as pages are appear almost at random. The links to national newspapers is a useful addition, however, I note that if the home page is printed only part of this column appears on the hard copy generated from a Laserjet 4000. It is essential to ensure that all pages have printer friendly settings so that no information is distorted or omitted. I think it would be useful to include links to popular search engines such as Yahoo and also ensure that the engine used to search within the site returns relevant/up to date results! As far as I am aware there is no search facility within the e-mail directory which is a bit of an inconvenience considering the number of entries. The site is extremely good and I do appreciate that resources are limited. I note that the site has very little advertising (in the way of banners etc) and I am sure this is because your team are concerned that creative control may be diminished when meeting the demands of sponsors. Have you considered links to online companies such as Amazon (or and Irish equivalent, online banks, travel agents, airlines, supermarkets etc? All possibilities should be explored to ensure the continued success and survival of a site with such potential. I am not a web designer but work in a technical environment assisting users in making the most of their system and I hope that my comments will provide some useful feedback. I wish you much success in the future and look forward to a new and much improved website!!! Best of luck to you as you undertake a tough challenge. By the way I think this is an excellent way of getting useful feedback!!!!
Thank you for your comments. You have obviously put a lot of thought into this and we appreciate it.
We could put a standard set of links below each page but it must be remembered that a large number of different clubs and organisations create the web pages that comprise www.castlebar.ie and we would prefer to give them freedom to create their own web pages as they see fit. This does give rise to the randomness you refer to of course and not every organisation will update pages at the same rate and some infrequently so they do go out of date. We believe, however, that it is still early days on the web - we started this site in early 1997 and had as many hits in a year as we get in a day now (our daily peak is about 50,000 now averaging over one million a month). We think this will escalate even further when adsl, cable access, and online 24x7 becomes the norm. Then the web will be the prime source of information and it will be essential for everyone to update their pages - more important than shop windows, posters, radio or newspapers. Good point about the printer friendly set up of pages we also had a comment regarding the printing of our crosswords which apparently is an important ritual in certain workplaces! Re search engines we have had a links to search engines and a wide range of other useful sites on the front page for a number of years now - currently it is under the Weather Satellite image a drop down box. In all we have some 45 links to outside sites on a typical day!
We requested readers to recommend their favourite 'useful' site for this item. You can check back through our daily archive of front pages right back to May 2000. The email directory is organised alphabetically and currently is only one page long so your built in browser search (ctrl-F) should work perfectly. We are about to split the email directory it up and run it from a database at that stage it will be necessary to add the search facility. Of course the full site search facility can also be used.
Yes, we would like to generate advertising revenue and we believe that the results of this profiling survey will help us to convince local businesses and others to advertise on our web site. Resources are the problem. If we stop updating and maintaining the site while we rush off to generate advertising revenue we may just kill the Golden Goose. We have a plan and we have feedback that shows that businesses that advertise on our site do generate an excellent return on investment. Presently web advertising is a world wide problem - there are few if any sites that can run on advertising alone and there is a very large number of dot.boms to illustrate the point - Doras, Local Ireland and iVenus probably the most recent.
Nevertheless we aim to make www.castlebar.ie self-financing. We also sell hosting and Domain Name Registration. Please tell everyone you know about the Castlebar Internet Server Project and if you know someone with a business advise them to advertise on www.castlebar.ie. Here are some details on the advertising opportunities that we offer.