When I started working with the CityGrid Places API I needed a project to help me learning about how to use the API, and wrap my head around whats possible when building local web applications. I built Hyp3rL0cal which is a local web directory, that I wrote in PHP, then created Python and Ruby versions as well.
While I think local directories are still a very valuable and relevant part of the CityGrid network, I do not think they reflect the future of local web applications. So I”m spending time trying to brainstorm what is next, and I want to explore the difference between a local directory and local guide.
In my opinion a local directory is a web application that provides search and browsing mechanisms for users to discover local businesses and places on the web. The concept of a directory is really built around the user navigating the places data, and finding what they are looking for. Which requires the user to be willing to work for the discovery, something that not every user we be able or willing to do.
This is where I think an important evolution of local comes in–from the local directory to local guide. Rather than requiring users to find their own places, we should be guiding them more and making our local web applications more intelligent in helping users discover what they are looking for.
These are just initial thoughts on this, but one example that comes to mind in the travel industry, is Hipmunk hotel search. Hipmunk provides a streamlined way of guiding you through finding a hotel in a city, between specific dates and allows you to effortlessly filter, drag and mouseover your way to finding your room.
Hipmunk is just one example that comes to mind, I’m sure there are a lot more out there. I will keep hunting for better examples of how to help evolve the definition of local from a directory experience to form of discovery that helps guide you through business and places, and share with you developers, so you can use in your local web and mobile apps.