My new website, World Heritage Links, which I have been working on for months is still fundamentally wrong. The basic problem is that it is boring to look at on first viewing, because it is only a vast field of labeled computer links; also clicking on any one of those links sends the viewer away from my site; and moreover, there is no way to make significant money out of the site as it presently exists.
My site presents a wonderful opportunity for a person who is intending to travel abroad to test-visit thousands of locations online before going there in person. That way they can make the most of their time, money and effort when they do travel, but that functionality isn’t communicated to the viewer on first visit, and doesn’t seem apparent to the computer gurus whom I am consulting with even after several visits and discussion of the site. It is my responsibility to change these things for the better, but that will take a fundamental wrenching around of the site as it presently exists. What I had originally envisioned was a sidebar to the left with hotels and travel agencies that would constantly be visible to my web guests while they visited the foreign locations offered within a window at the center. That doesn’t appear to be possible, so what I did this last week was to create Amazon links so I could at least receive a referral fee for products purchased through the site. But that is feeble also, because it still sends people away from my site with only an occasional purchase at Amazon. So, even on my only source of income from this site, at best one person in ten purchases something at Amazon and I only get say, four percent return on that sale, so my earnings would be only four parts per thousand on these fairly rare and occasional transactions.
One possibility suggested is to create two new links on my field of links:
World Heritage – Travel – Hotel – Flickr – Google – YouTube – Amazon – Lat/Long
which would link directly to appropriate travel agencies or directly to hotels located at the destination. I could do these links even without contacting the hotels and track with Google Analytics to see if there was any traffic and better understand what actions would be appropriate. But there is still the fundamental problem of sending people away with every click.
A second possibility is to create a dedicated page for each of the locations and build it up into a much fancier page which included pasted-in photos from Flickr, embedded videos from YouTube, and a pasted-in opening page from Wikipedia, and some on-page linkage to Amazon. That way I would control the flow of traffic better and have the potential to make a return. On this new page I could paste in a photo of a local hotel and links to reservations. That could easily be made more interesting than a list of sites and would generate more desire to explore the site and potentially move some real money.
What my gurus seem to want is something more like Trip Advisor. That is a highly developed travel site which without doubt makes lots of money for its creators. But it doesn’t offer what World Heritage Links offers, and that is the ability to see where you are going before you go there. What they do is to have lots of sizzle and a couple of small pictures and a few of mediocre videos, but mostly it’s lists of rated hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and places to spend money. My primary complaint is that it encourages unnecessary consumption. It is a good example of what my sight isn’t, and in some ways what I don’t want it to be. For example, there site encourages travel to remote and endangered places by people who otherwise wouldn’t go there. That will unnecessarily consume more natural resources during their journey and it will degrade those places when they as tourists do go there. This site only appears to be socially responsible when they write.
“Discover all 936 World Heritage Sites
Help to protect these sites by telling us about your visits.”
The approach World Heritage Links takes is to encourage people to stay home and view these places online. It lets them be knowledgeable about where they might go and to choose carefully those sites they do choose to visit.
But, for my efforts in creating a new web site I can only say:
If lab rats can learn from their mistakes, there is still hope for me.