Here is an archive of FoundLocally screenshots and a discussion of the site changes over the years, since 1999 when the website was launched.
Perspective, by Mark Ruthenberg G.M.
See how FoundLocally changed over several iterations over the years, as it expanded geographically across Canada, and added functionality to its community information and its business directory. FoundLocally has grown organically, not based on a sudden influx of financing or venture capital but based on public request for features implemented when revenue from operations allowed us the time to research, write and program such enhancements. We’ve heard from many people, some who have visited often and observed the gradual progression, and others who have not visited in a while–sometimes not for several years–who noticed the “sudden” proliferation of features & functionality. This story gives everyone a chance to look back.
Here are some screens from prior years, so you can see changes in our site layout, geographic scope and functionality. Some blank areas on the screens may be space reserved for advertising for campaigns no longer running.
Top-level home page had mouse-over so local photo displayed over “click on a city’s name to go there!” . We launched in August 1999 with Calgary, Edmonton, Rockies and Vancouver, and added other Prairie communities over the Fall.
FoundLocally top-level home page Dec 1999
FoundLocally Calgary home page Dec 1999
We were featured in Calgary Herald Business Section story in Dec 1999, and added the Business Directory to the content in January 2000. In Summer of 2001, we added Okanagan and Thunder Bay sites.
FoundLocally top-level home page 2001
FoundLocally Calgary home page 2001
In Summer 2002, we added an Ottawa site to complete coverage along the length of the Trans-Canada Highway as far east as Quebec, and we celebrated 3 years in business (note the party balloons on the top-level home page). In August, simplified the site design by substituting pull-down menus for the left-and navigation, but saw a dramatic reduction in site traffic (by roughly half) because site visitors did not realize the scope & depth of site content, and required too many clicks to move around the site. The left-hand menus have been a core feature of FoundLocally ever since. In the Fall we updated the site design to accommodate display advertising through 24/7 Canada (now 24/7 RealMedia).
FoundLocally top-level home page June 2002
FoundLocally Calgary home Augsut2002
In Summer 2002, we added an Ottawa site to complete coverage along the Over 2003, we added 4 sites for the Maritimes, covering Fredericton, Charlottetown, Halifax and St John’s. We also added the ability for businesses to post Jobs and individuals to post their resumes, for employers to view. In 2003, we also began sponsoring theNABS Ad Auction, with a donation of one MILLION ad impressions (which we continue to do each year since)
FoundLocally top-level home page Sept 2002
FoundLocally Calgary home April 2003
In January 2004, we did a complete site redesign, incorporating black header with strong graphics reflecting our growing traffic and business success (design credit goes to Stoyan Stoirchkov). By this time wa also added our Fraser Valley site, incorporating the many communities between Vancouver’s metropolis and the Okanagan.
FoundLocally top-level home page Spring 2004
FoundLocally Calgary home Spring 2004
Over the Spring and Summer of 2005, we added the ability for businesses to post Events, News announcements and Coupons & Sales (today labelled as “Savings”). We traded in the high-contrast black & blue look for a more subtle grey & blue look, standardizing access to the new features and providing a stronger graphic emphasis on the left-hand menus to drive visitor traffic to other areas of the site. We also began expanding into southern Ontario with sites covering the vacation areas of Niagara Falls (March 2008), and Barrie-Muskoka (May 2006).
FoundLocally top-level home page June 2006
FoundLocally Calgary home June 2006
Over 2007, we began to add more sites around the Greater Toronto Area, including Hamilton, Oakville-Halton (now “Oakville-Burlington”) and Mississauga-Peel (now “Mississauga-Brampton”) and Oshawa-Durham. We updated our site design to incorporate a “Web 2.0” look featuring small icons to reduce the amount of text for site navigation (design credit goes to Kirk Werklund).
Following a survey of our loyal subscribers and site visitors, in May 2007, we simplified our business model by making the logos & links, and all listings of jobs, new, events, and coupons totally free! Our traffic had grown enough and we were earning enough from the display advertising to make a move that would have been business suicide even a year earlier. In October 2007, FoundLocally was featured in Alberta Venture Magazine in a story ” Battle of the Digital Directories“.
FoundLocally top-level home page Fall 2007
FoundLocally Calgary home Fall 2007
Over 2008, we launched our five Toronto (GTA) sites, breaking the urban sprawl into roughly the pre-unification municipal boundaries: Toronto, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough, and York Region. FoundLocally.com now had a presence in the “home turf” of many Toronto-based national chain stores and restaurants, as well as the country’s leading advertising agencies. The website also added the ability for visitors to post Ratings & Reviews for any business, not just restaurants, to make the site more interactive and provide consumers even more information.
FoundLocally top-level home page Nov 2008
FoundLocally Calgary home Nov 2008
At the very end of 2008, we streamlined the site design, to put business-driven and user-driven site updates in the banner area, and provide an intuitive tab-based interface to access that information. In January 2009, we added over 250 pages of environmentally-focussed content to our site, and in March added a blog to assist businesses with many facets of their web marketing and help them maximize their use of FoundLocally’s free listings to both save money and raise visibility in the Economic Recession.
FoundLocally top-level home page Feb 2009
FoundLocally Calgary home Feb 2009