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  • Posted May 14, 2012

What's New?

BIKEIOWA has been connecting Cycling with Iowa Communities since 2001. We've redesigned and rewritten BIKEIOWA.com to be more user friendly, to contain more information and to give the ability for more user interaction. Nowadays, we all have high expectations about how websitea should work. They've become much more complex, yet more user friendly. The new BIKEIOWA.com site aims to provide everything you need to know about Iowa Cycling. We've opened up the doors to allow YOU to add more content and interact with the site and the members.

The site rewrite has been a 3 year process. When we first started to think about rewriting the site, we looked for "canned" Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, and many others, but, they did not allow us to tie Trails, Cities, Events and other Content like we wanted. We for a few quotes from website companies to rewrite the site (cause we did not have the time), but those quotes ranges from $70-$100,000! There was no way we codl afford that, so we decided to hunker-down and rewrite it ourselves. We planned it all out, and we knew it was going to be a BIG job. We wanted to totally change the way the data was stored and shown on the site. BIKEIOWA.com is NOT our full time job, so all development was done on nights and weekends, which meant we were not getting in many pedaling miles, we would miss quit a few events and have to cut down our volunteer hours.

While the site it not 100% what was envisioned, we think the NEW BIKEIOWA.com is very functional and we can guarantee there is not another site like it. We hope it will continue to make biking in Iowa better!

Thanks to my wife Julie for putting up with the sleepless nights and frustrations over the last three years of development.


Highlights

  • Portals give you access to the cycling genre you are most interested in. You won't have to hunt through the entire site to find information you are interested in. Go straight to the portal and all the info will be right there!
  • Bicycle Tourism - Iowa tops the list of being one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We don't have mountains or oceans, but we do have a great Trails System, friendly Communities and tons of rural roads to ride on. We realize there is more to Iowa Cycling than the rides on the Event Calendar which is why we've put a focus on Destinations. Destinations are places you can ride your bicycle to. They can be places to eat, places to stay, or just unique places to visit. We expect the number of Destinations we list to grow each month!
  • Sponsors - This site would not exist without our Sponsors. We've added new Sponsor pages to showcase the content in which each Sponsor is mentioned. It shows we have sponsors who really care about cycling in Iowa.
  • Trails - Every trail in Iowa has it's own page that will list Events, Features, News, Reviews, Blogs, Citiies and other information for each trail.
  • Events Calendar - Events are the bread and butter of the site. We've made it easier to search the calendar as well as adding weekly and recurring events.
  • My BIKEIOWA - You'll be able to administer all your Events, News, etc. via your "My BIKEIOWA" dashboard. Form here you'll be able to see all your posts and edit them easily.
  • Trail Status - BIKEIOWA Community members can update trail status' to let other know when all or part of a trail is closed, etc.
  • Cities - Iowa has some great bicycle-friendly cities and we've added a page for each city in Iowa. The City pages will showcase Events, News, related Trails and other information.
  • Tagging - The new site revolves around tagging content to make it easier for YOU to find information and to ensure MAXIMUM exposure for the site's content. Take a look at the TAGS menu or add an Event to see what we mean.
  • User-Friendly URLS - As we mentioned, each City and Trail in Iowa will have it's own page. We wanted to make it EASY for others to link to these pages. For example, it you want to link to Perry, IA, the link you be: www.BIKEIOWA.co./City/perry. If the City has a space, a hyphen is substituted in the URL like this: www.BIKEIOWA.com/City/des-moiones. We use the same appraoch for Trails. To get to the Bill Riley Trail, this url will be used: www.BIKEIOWA.com/Trail/bill-riley-trail. Same goes for Portals. www.BIKEIOWA.com/Portal/mountain-bike will take you to the Mountain Bike Portal. These user-friendly URLS also make it easier for the search engines to find.
  • Comments are new and allow social interaction at the content level.
  • Blogs - We've contracted with severl bloggers to give unique perspectives about cycling in Iowa. They "BIKE IOWA" and you should too.


BIKEIOWA Community

You can now sign up for a profile that will allow you to become a BIKEIOWA Community member. As a member you can:
  • Add Reviews for Trails, Cities, Events, and pretty much anything cycling related in Iowa.
  • Add News Items - There is more News out there than we can keep up with. But with your help, we can post more content to help keep us all informed.
  • Add Comments to News, Events, Features, etc.
  • Post Content to your social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  • Add Destinations - We want to showcase not only Events, but places you can ride your bicycle to.
  • Add Event Recaps - Tell others about your Event. Who was there? How was the weather? What happened?
  • Rate Event, Trails, Cities etc. Eventually we'll be able to tell what the Top Rated Trails and Cities are.


Pages we did NOT carryover

There were a few pages we did not bring into the new site.

  • Forums - We felt that the new Comments module would produce the same effect as the forum pages did. Plus with the advent of Facebook, forums on websites have become outdated.
  • Classifieds - For the 1st phase of the new site, we will not include a Classifieds section. We know this was used with great success on the old site, but it just did not make the cut for top priority pages. Craig's List is set up to to the same thing. If we get enough feedback of folks wanting this functionality, we may bring it back sooner.
  • Photo Galleries - We had over 30,000 photos on the old gallery. While we did not delete these photos, we've removed them from the site. They took up a huge amount of space. We may post them to FLICKR or Facebook someday, but not now.
  • Poll - We liked the Poll and it was fun to see the feedback. We may add the Poll back at a later time, but not in phase 1.



What's Next?

We've still got LOTS to add to the site. You'll see new functionality being adding throughout the year. We are calling this Phase 1. Here is a list of what is in the works for future phases:
  • Sluggish - We know the new site is a bit sluggish. We are working to make the page load faster
  • RSS feeds - It's on the to-do list. You'll be able to subscribe to a number of rss feeds for portals, cities, trails and more.
  • Trail Wiki - If you are a member of the BIKEIOWA Community, you'll be able to add updates for your local trails. No one know local trails better than those who live nearby.
  • Maps - This will take some time, but we'll continue to add map and links to maps for all the trails in Iowa.
  • There's an App for that - We have created a simple Android app that showcases upcoming events. We are working on more functionality as well as an iPhone app.
  • Top Contributors - We love it when other post content. We are tracking who posts the most and will showcase these folks on the site.
  • Search - We are still writing the Search functionality. With all the new types of content we had to take a step back and rewrite the Search code to retrieve data in a new way. It will be cool when we are finished.
  • FAQ - No sense in re-creating the wheel each time. We're creating a section for the most Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Ask a Question - We get hundreds of emails a year asking different questions about biking in Iowa. We try to answer them all, but we want to open this up to the BIKEIOWA Community. You'll be able to post a Questions, and other members will be able to post Answers.
  • Event Planning - Eventually we'll post a "How To" section to help you plan your Event.


If you have questions, suggestions or comments, let us know.


  • Author: ss
  • Posted By: ss
  • Modified: Jun 1, 2012 by ss

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Scott, you know Iam one of the biggest bikeiowa fans ever. I only have one request. I want to see more mountain biking related articles.

you rock!
Sammy

#5 - borasam posted Jun 8, 2012


Nice job, Scott! Thanks for all the work over the years and best of luck with the new site!

#4 - dutch posted Jun 3, 2012


BicycleBill - facebook widgets are offered as an auxillary. Folks use it and it has proved beneficial for promoting content as has Twitter. We coulda have used the facebook login widget too, but that was too integrated for us. Everything is set up so we can follow the "next trend".. thanks for using the new BikeIowa.

#3 - ss posted Jun 2, 2012


Sorry to see you're being suckered into the Facebook fetish. Believe it or not, there are some of us who are *NOT* on Facebook. In my case I have absolutely no intention of ever doing so, based on the ease with which one's information or reputation may become compromised.

If people want to go onto Facebook, OK; but please don't make it a mandatory thing in order to continue with discussions.

-"BB"-

#2 - BicycleBill posted Jun 2, 2012


Love the new site Scott! Just had surgery yesterday and I gotta say this is the best thing next to actually being on my bike! Thanks! I could not ask for better timing!

TEENA

#1 - TEENA posted Jun 2, 2012


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