One of the primary outputs of the THING Project was the development of a common website which could be utilised to communicate the activities and outcomes of the project and to engage the wider community in the work which was taking place.
The aims of the website were to:
- Document the interregional Thing Story, and to illustrate the shared links and history between our individual thing sites;
- Develop a common platform for the dissemination of knowledge about thing sites;
- Create a central hub for tourist information aimed at both individuals and businesses;
- Attract users, encourage visits, and engage communities in the life of the regional thing sites.
It is important that the website provided a platform not only for the project to reach out to the public and disseminate information, but also for users to interact with the public, register their interest and contribute their knowledge and experience. In order to do this the site has been synced with a number of the Web 2.0 services being developed as part of WP4. The homepage contains a live feed from Facebook and Flickr. This allows for instant updating as soon as any activity occurs on either of these platforms, and means that the homepage is dynamic and constantly changing, even if there has been no activity on the site itself for a period.
Each page has a number of ‘share’ options located at the bottom of each feature. These buttons allow the user to share the material from the site to a page, blog or social network of their choice, allowing users to be engaged in spreading the work of the project. A ‘DISQUS’ plugin (www.disqus.com) was also added to the news and events page. This allows users to comment, using either an existing social network account (eg Facebook, Google+), or a newly created username. The site also has a ‘contact us’ webform which allows users to submit specific questions or comments to project members, and a mailing list signup, allowing them to register their interest and receive updates on the project’s progress.