Hyperlocal venture Everyblock, owned by msnbc.com, relaunched yesterday with a sleek new design and several fresh features geared towards cultivating neighborhood communities. The site’s previous incarnation served as a kind of block-by-block news feed, aggregating crime statistics, restaurant reviews and local events. With yesterday’s relaunch, new social elements have been integrated into the site that encourage users to share and interact with their neighbors both online and off. So what are these changes, and what insight do they give us into the future of hyperlocal news? Let’s take a look.
- Digital incentives: With its newest iteration, Everyblock has officially joined the badge revolution. For people who need a little extra motivation to get involved with local initiatives, Everyblock has created badges that encourage participation and reward those most active in helping out their ‘hoods using the site. Everyblock’s badge integration is another strong indication that gaming mechanics is becoming integral to the strategy of news sites.
- Get to know your neighbors: If users don’t opt to sign in to Everyblock using their Faceobook or Twitter accounts, they can also create their own profiles with local-heavy info like favorite neighborhood hangouts and community interests. “The web doesn’t yet offer an easy and effective way for people to post messages to their neighbors,” Everyblock founder Adrian Holovaty told Mashable. “How many people become Facebook friends with their neighbors?” With community-centric profiles, users can now put a name with the face they see in the coffee shop line.
- Hyperlocal isn’t just an online venture: Hyperlocal news sites shouldn’t just focus on the digital realm; finding innovative ways to bridge the gap between the online neighborhood and the real world one is crucial to building an effective local news site. Neighborhoods can’t thrive if their residents are stuck inside on computers all day. Everyblock features like “neighbor messages” encourage users to get out there and meet each other face to face, and hopefully turn their online ideas into real-world action.
- “Following” is the new “liking”: Key to Everyblock’s redesign is the functionality of the “Follow” button; users can now follow blocks, zipcodes and even specific businesses. A “Get to Know Your Neighbors” sidebar displays links to the profiles of users who follow the same places that you do, making it super easy to meet new people with similar interests.
What do you think of Everyblock’s redesign?