The Guide is a listing of service professionals like carpenters and cleaners, and the print version can be found in kitchen drawers all around San Francisco. Since each business must have ten customer recommendations to be considered for a listing, it’s exactly like getting to ask all of your neighbors for a recommendation when you need to find a plumber.
So when the publishers asked for a recommendation of a Web designer with deep database translation experience, they ended up at Walter Davis Studio, even though the Guide is headquartered just a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley.
Good Service Guide prints all of its regional editions from the same FileMaker Pro database. Since this data is already organized in one place, it makes perfect sense to re-use it on the Web.
But what happens when a typo is found or a phone number changes?
Working with FileMaker specialists SmallCo, we developed a one-button-easy workflow to send updates to the Web server each time a change is made back in the office. A custom SmallCo FileMaker plug-in streams an XML message to the Web server, updating the MySQL database with the latest information.
As impressive as the back-end technology is, design also plays a key role in the success of the site. The intuitive navigation and flexible taxonomy are paired with plenty of white space and sophisticated colors to create an impression of expertise and trustworthiness.
One of the most important visitors to any Web site is the Google bot. And Good Service Guide is designed to cater to its special needs. Despite being served from a database, every page in the site has a “real” URL and looks and acts like a static page. And the same metadata that powers the Guide’s search engine feeds keywords to the search engines.
Visit the site, and finally get that leaky faucet fixed!
A different advertiser is featured at random each time the home page loads.
Each listing in the guide is categorized for easy browsing. Many advertisers appear in more than one edition, category or subcategory. The site appears to have thousands of pages as a result, and no matter how you’re looking for something, you’re likely to find it.
Since the Guide is generated dynamically from a database, every listing can be searched and found. Visitors can choose to search only one edition of the Guide, or the entire Bay Area.