We’ve just launched our biggest feature update since BlueBadgeParking.com launched back in 2006. As previously mentioned, we’ve spent a large part of 2015 so far working behind the scenes to build a framework for adding new features to the site to make it even easier to use and more useful. As part of this development we had to test if adding new features itself was any easier and quicker with the new framework… The short answer is ‘Yes!’, it turned out to be so quick and easy that we’ve brought forward the launch of a few features that were planned for a couple of months time.
So, what’s new?
- Right-click menu This is probably the most immediately useful time saving new feature for most people. On a PC , if you right click anywhere on the map a little menu will pop up giving you access to some old features (map view switching, zooming, adding a new location) and some new features (sharing a map view). Even the old features available in the right-click menu have been improved though. Adding a new location this way adds the new marker at the mouse position, rather than just in the center of the screen!
- Active address bar We’re particularly proud of this one as we think it makes BlueBadgeParking.com even more intuitive. As you scroll and zoom around the map now, in a compatible web browser (ie any of the modern browsers) you will see the address bar update live. This is because the address bar now tracks the current map view… So, what does this mean for you? Previously if you copied the address from the address bar to email to someone they would just be sent to the default map view (or their current location if location services are available). Now, however, you can send them a link to the map view that you are looking at! So, if you want to send someone a map of a particular town, just scroll and zoom to the view you want to share, copy the address bar in full and share that address.
- The Lightbox We’ve added a lightbox feature that pops up content in a box over the map so that we can show you bigger content than we could in just the left hand menu bar. Some existing content has moved into the lightbox to make it easier to read, but read on for a few more new features that make specific user of the lightbox.
- Share a parking location We’ve added a ‘share’ link to every location marker’s Info Window. Clicking this opens the lightbox and allows you to share that exact location by email, social media, web links etc or to save to your favourites etc.
- Share a map view The right click menu has an adoption to share a map view. Clicking this opens the lightbox in a very similar way to when sharing a parking location and enables you to share the current map view in various ways – email, social media, web links etc.
- Bit.ly integration When sharing links via the lightbox you have the option of shortening the link using the Bit.ly platform. Links, to map views especially, can be quite long and ugly (and can get mangled by some email services/clients) so shortening with Bit.ly can be really useful.
- Help videos The help option on the left hand menu has been there since the relaunch in 2014 but has remained empty largely because things were changing so fast elsewhere on the site. Now, however, we’ve added the first of our help video tutorials which will guide you through using BlueBadgeParking.com. Right now the videos cover the basics, but more will be added in the future covering some of the more advanced features. The videos pop up in the lightbox, but an icon in the bottom right of each video allows you to open them full screen – they were produced in HD so look great full screen.
- Spread the Word As we have no advertising budget (we’re entirely privately funded by the site’s creator!) we rely on you, our users, to spread the word via whatever means you have at your disposal. To make this easier we have created a collection off resources that you can use… There are button images/links for websites and blogs etc. There are posters to print and put up in clinics, mobility shops, schools, hospitals, work places etc – anywhere they might be seen by people who need disabled / handicap parking info. There are promotional videos to share and there will soon be a biography/history of how BlueBadgeParking.com got started so that you can write informed articles for magazines or blogs or write to magazine and newspaper letters pages telling them about the site. You are our best advertiser, and we want to help you to help us become bigger and better.
- Web-API Underlying the sharing features is a brand-new web-API that allows you to access BlueBadgeParking.com features directly from the address bar.As well as sharing locations by location id and sharing map views using the menus and buttons provided, you can use the web-API to create your own URLs to link directly to something in particular. As well as /view/ and /id/ you can also use /coords/ to link directly to GPS coordinates. This means that if you are developing a site or application you can create these links on-the-fly and link directly to BlueBadgeParking.com! We’ll publish more info about the web-API soon, but you can always contact us for more info in the meantime.
- Extended sharing options We’ve integrated AddThis.com’s sharing tools so you can now share links to BlueBadgeParking.com with your friends and contacts and more via around 300 different services These include all the big names and many, many smaller ones. Social Media, link sharing, blogging, email more are all very well represented – just click one of the sharing services logos or the white ‘+’ in the orange box where you see it.
As always, everything had been designed with usability and web standards compliance in mind. While smart phone and tablet friendliness is a prime design aim for us, not all features can work on all devices (there is no such thing as right click on a smart phone, for example). Where a feature is not directly available it is accessible in a different way elsewhere and the features degrade elegantly – so as always we are proud to say that we are tested ‘Mobile Friendly’. Go have a play with the new features. If you know of any disabled / handicap parking locations that are not on the map – add them now, it’s easier than ever. (#GiveMeSomeSpace) If you have a business or venue, why not get started by adding a tailored BlueBadgeParking.com link to your location to your website – giving your mobility impaired visitors easy and up to date, vital information for their visit. And if nothing else, please, spread the word… Thanks, Dan