The team at Footprint Guides have siphoned their combined passion, expertise and nouse into a brand new website. Footprinttravelguides.com certainly seems to be up to the challenge of meeting the evolving needs of travellers in the digital age.
Footprint's new Homepage, where Flickr, Twitter and Facebook badges set the scene for social networking, has plenty of attention grabbing content in the form of scrolling images linking to topical travel features, a 'must-see destination' feature and a list of the publisher’s latest releases. A self-explanatory Footprint in the Media link showcases the authors’ On The Road blog published by The Independent and articles published in the travel press. There's also a searchable listings directory of places to eat, sleep and play around the world, which, when fully functional, promises to be a very handy travel resource.
Breadcrumbs (the tabs laid out horizontally along the top) lead through Footprint’s publishing portfolio region by region, with the addition of the Lifestyle & Activities titles. Travellers navigating through the Latin America section and into the Belize pages for example, will find a substantial amount of free information available; including such essentials as Where and When to go, Suggested Itineraries, Getting There and Getting Around. It’s all edited copy lifted from Footprint’s Handbooks.
The site also encourages interaction between travellers via social networking platforms including Footprint’s pre-existing Facebook and Twitter networks, and in a travel forum that is in the offing.
As Marketing Manager, Liz Harper said, “The site will include links to our social networking sites as well as feeds from them. It will also be far more dynamic and interactive than the previous site.”
Footprint's authors can also get involved. Author and traveller forums, feeds to and from authors' own blogs and updates from authors in the field – especially around breaking news stories – will all be possible.
Publisher, Alan Murphy said, “We are hoping that the forum on the site will become not only a great place for travellers to share information and advice, but a platform for authors wishing to share their knowledge and expertise of an area, providing real added value to visitors to the site.”
Naturally, the site is equally focused on the business of selling travel guides and it looks like Footprint's web developers have been just as busy with the shop as they have with the social networking. Each page of travel content has links through to related books, PDF downloads and digital products (Footprint's new iPhone app, available from June 2010). Complementary gizmos sit alongside each product’s bibliographic details. For example, travellers can look inside their chosen guidebook, and hear the virtual paper pages turning, before buying. And if you can’t buy your book on the spot there's the option to Bookmark or Share it as a link in countless social networks (including the obvious; Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Blogger) - all at the click of a 'social networking’ button. Very nifty.
Footprint confirmed today that their iPhone app and first guides have been submitted to the Apple Store, ready for early June. (The Cape Town guide is included for free - perfect timing if you're heading to the World Cup).
They expect to launch the travellers' forum in July.