1. I created a simplified Address structure with many benefits:
• Much more compact. Makes column width less of an issue.
• Absolutely consistent - fully standardized formats including abbreviations
• Minimal punctuation
• Distant areas covered are defined by a community code in a separate field
• Precisely sortable - you could list every organization - in order - on a specific block!
• The communities surrounding the incorporated town are considered to be in the same postal zone as the town, regardless of the name of the unincorporated local area itself.
For instance, we don’t treat Erickson as a separate entity in terms of address, it is just assumed to be in the Creston “zone”.
• The site is physical-location-driven, so we do not include postal codes, province, country, or box numbers. Individual websites usually provide this information should postal mail contact be necessary.
• Easy to spot and correct anomalies.
2. Organization names are kept to their simplest DBA levels.
If interested, users will see the full official corporate names when visiting the source websites. You generally won't see names that include: Ltd., Inc., Corp., Co., …and Associates, or tag lines (whether explanatory or not), year formed, or numbered companies (except in some temporary instances of private industry-oriented organizations).
In the odd case where the business name and category gives no obvious indication of its role, I may add a few characters in parentheses to help characterize it, or else expand its acronym to a useful level.
Consistency is important for reliable searches, so I've standardized naming conventions as well, for instance with "Bed and Breakfast" or "BnB" always shown as B&B.
I don't include the community name with franchise/branch operations, as this is self-evident in context.
3. I don't publish fax numbers, toll-free alternative numbers or email addresses...likewise with Twitter and Instagram links.
In the limited number of situations that these items might be relevant at the exploration stage, simply visit the target website for this information.
4. My comprehensive regional and community sites are NOT membership-driven and for your security and privacy there are no onsite purchases or user account registration/profile requirements.
Email communication using site forms is encrypted through Secure Socket Layers (SSL) protocols so inquiries and opt-in newsletter programs are safe. Invoicing is handled manually through external secure systems. It’s considerably more work than an automated system, but there’s far less risk of having personal information hacked.
5. If a business isn't tangibly local or visibly active in the region, it may not be included.
The concept of adding value through local customer service is important. Simply linking to an out-of-town distributor (eg. Amazon) isn't enough to warrant a directory presence.
6. I don’t create a narrative describing what you’re going to see once you click a website link.
I encounter this lame and redundant process on traditional sites all the time. Be brave - just click the link.
Who knows what you'll find!?
7. The All-Records database view is stripped-down but still quite plain.
Efforts will be made to make the large single-page table more dynamic and appealing in the near future. Ultimately it adds power and flexibility compared to the Audience-Index views, but does sacrifice some of the Audience-view’s grouped records and visual impact of the adjacent Feature ads. I like both approaches.
To partially compensate for the enhanced ad function, in the All-Records view a featured participant record will have a single still image linked to the TYPE column, which pops up a viewer window and the name of the participant.
On a single line, the All-Records view also shows 3 unique fields that will have codes present if there are associated links: FB (Facebook), VID (Video), and FOCUS (Permalink page or Classified link). This data may be present in an Audience-view record, but will normally appear in a second line due to the formatting restrictions.