If you’re a Roanoker, you may have heard about the launch of RoanokeOutside.com. It’s been well publicized on Twitter, Facebook, and now some other media outlets such as Star City Harbinger and WSLS. Beth Doughty, Executive Director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership does a good job summarizing the site in their latest press release:

“Making the outdoors an important part of our region’s narrative starts with a comprehensive Web site that catalogues our natural resources and makes it easier for people all over the world to learn about and enjoy our region’s natural resources.”

My company, Vision Point Systems, is behind the development of this site. We have an interesting task ahead of us balancing the demand for an objective catalog of the region’s offerings with the desire to build a dynamic community of outdoor enthusiasts and casual participants. This is one of those instances where social media can seem like a buzzword. It’s tempting to decorate the page with Twitter feeds, Friendfeed streams, etc. There’s a real risk of getting too hung up on the social aspect and burying the real purpose of the site. There will be some much needed traditional web features such as a hiking trail database, links to local outfitters, events lists, and other guidance and tips. The last thing we want to happen is create a feeling of exclusivity because of a passionate core group of outdoor enthusiasts.

The great part about the process we’re going through is that we’ve launched the site as a completely temporary entity to act as a preview and feedback mechanism. We’ve got a clear deadline set for Sept 30 to get the real thing built and we’re thrilled about the buzz the site is getting so far.

The RoanokeOutside.com temporary page

The RoanokeOutside.com temporary page

I’d personally welcome feedback on this subject, but the best course of action is to take the survey on the site itself!

The new roanoke.org site has been launched. Vision Point Systems has been working with The Roanoke Regional Partnership and Neathawk, Debuque, and Packet for a few months now on implementing this great new site. ND&P provided the look and feel to go along with the group’s new branding, and we made everything work, and easy for the RRP admins to maintain.

I’m really proud of this site for many reasons, but if for no other reason than for it being a home-grown product. RRP is as much of an advocate of this region as you can get. By choosing us from Blacksburg and ND&P from Roanoke, it was an easy process for us to collaborate, communicate, and actually meet in person to get the project done. The site is even hosted by Tech Squared, also in Roanoke.

Another great aspect of the site is that we were able to use tools and data provided by other parties such as with the Cost of Living Calculator and Site and Building Data.

My favorite, though, is how we’ve brought in the MyScoper events feed here. This is great example of RSS and syndication at work. I’ve spoken with the folks at MyScoper and I know they love that we’re doing this.  I’ll be looking for other potential information providers – perhaps for things like restaurants, weather, outdoor activities, etc.

I see the blogs are already abuzz about this (Stuart Mease, EdPro), and I look forward to the continued evolution of this new tool for the region’s current and future residents.