12 October 2006|
Basingstoke-Now was started after a problem we had been trying find some information on activities to do in our free time. We asked friends if they knew where we could find some information. Nobody really knew, a few had some ideas but most of the places we were recommended such as the library or the council had some information but much of it was out of date.
Once we realised this we decided to design and launch a local website dedicated to the community so that they could list their groups, clubs and activities. We spoke to many people both leaders from community groups and associations and from the public and covering ages 8 to 80. The majority of people wanted a site that was easy to use and had good up to date information.
From this we came up with the Basingstoke-Now website. It is information for Basingstoke and it is available now. We decided to concentrate on the area covered by the Basingstoke and Deane Borough council and that we would produce a similar site for each council area in the UK.
Our principle aim is to “Promote and develop all aspects of the local community”. We promote and invest in various community organization and activities and try to help local communities become better places to live. We support local groups, organization's and schools in many ways, including financial donations, sponsorship and competitions. One area we are particularly active is supporting the youth and regularly run competitions for local schools with prizes for the school. Part of our philosophy is that we aim to be environmentally friendly. This is achieved by using recycled paper whenever possible and if not only using paper and card from sustainable sources. We shred and recycle our waste paper and our computer and IT systems are energy efficient. We also invest in various carbon offsetting programmes. We believe in protecting the future of the planet for the benefit of future communities.
The site is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And our traffic has grown accordingly. Currently, we receive an average of nearly 10,000 visitors to this site every month – and this is growing all the time.
As we were designing the site, we asked selected members of the public to test and give us feedback on the site. We were determined to ensure that the site was user friendly and had the features that people wanted. The development and testing took 18 months but allowed us to make it even better for the public in the Basingstoke and Deane area. We eventually added many areas and features to the site, many of them specifically requested by the public when we were testing. Among the features and benefits we added:
- Local Business Directory. With just one search, you can find many different local businesses, from builders to places to eat and cleaners to gardeners. We have found that many people want to find reliable local businesses. Our Business directory is more than just another directory. We have made it interactive business can have a substantial write up to describe their business; they can add products and services, documents and images. There are email and web-links and a map. We also encourage feedback from the public; they can rate the business and also post a review so that other users can gain valuable information about the business. A key feature is that business are able to provide members of the public with special offer or discount vouchers. These help the business win more customers.
- Community Information. Many people said they would like more information on the various communities around Basingstoke. They said that they used to live in one area but had now moved or that they had friends or family in a particular area, because of this they would like to know what is going on in these areas. So we have approached and have started working with some of the local community magazines to help provide some of this information. All community groups are welcome to add their details free of charge.
- Classified Ads. We were asked if people could list items for sale that they no longer wanted. We evaluated this and decided that a freeads would be possible and felt that it would be another reason to come to the site. Anybody can list as many items that they like on the site for free. All they need to do is register and then add their items.
- Jobs Section. As a development of the freeads we decided that it would be best to have dedicated sections for vehicles for sales, property for and job vacancies. This was to prevent the freeads be overloaded with these types of ads and preventing people selling smaller unwanted items. We have tried to ensure each of these areas is designed with the specific aim of promoting that item as well or better than any other website.
- Photo Gallery. After we had been to some of the local events and put the details on the website then people were asking if they could look at any further photos we had. This prompted us to add a photo gallery to the site with the option that site members can create their own folders and upload their own photos. These can be kept private or made public.
- Local News. Again as a development of being asked for community information we are now providing some local news. We do not want to replace the local newspapers, we want to work with them. We provide additional and alternative sources for local news and information. Our news is split into catagories including business news, Green News, job news and local news. All of our news is supplied by local business, local councils and the public. We do not have any dedicated reporters but work with some dedicated supporters who are willing to cover some events.
- Easy Help. Unfortunately we are not all experts at using the web. We understand that there will be many different people using the site. With widely different abilities. Our frequently asked questions have been written to cover nearly all of the questions we have been asked. However if you still have problems using the site we are happy for you to email us or telephone us and we can help you and even talk you through the problem. And if the issue is adding a listing to the site we can enter the information for you from a form which can be downloaded from the FAQ section. Our aim to help all users to ensure that they can come back and be repeat users of the site.
The site has been designed with you the public in mind and we hope that you like what you see and find the site easy to use. But as is the case with any website, sometimes things don't work exactly as expected. We are happy to answer any question you may have regarding us or the website, remember that this site is for everyone in the Basingstoke and Deane area and we have tried to integrate as many features and support as many sections of the community as possible. If you are having any problems, or see a feature you wish we'd add, please contact us at
And, if you haven't already discovered the benefits of registering – which include adding content, uploading photos and giving feedback on articles then please register. - click here to become a registered user of Basingstoke-Now (If you've previously registered with Basingstoke-Now and have forgotten your login details, you don't need to re-register; just go to the login with your email address and click on forgotten password, add your email and your login details will be reset and emailed to you).