10 Reasons why the New Gapyear.com Rocks
Gapyear.com has re-launched and the site looks awesome. But what are the cool new features and improvements? Take a look at why the new site rocks...
1. The Platform
We all loved the old gapyear.com website but, let's be honest, things move quickly in the tech world. To keep your head above water and compete - especially online - you need to re-invest and continually improve. With the new technology we have the foundation on which to build a site that is bigger and better than ever before. This is more than just a facelift; gapyear.com is now on a completely new platform that promises to be slicker, faster, more modern, more intuitive and aesthetically more attractive than the previous site. We hope you love it as much as we do!
2. News and Features
We'll now be producing daily news articles to keep you updated on all the developments in the travel and gap year world. For the really big announcements and stories, we can now send out Gapyear Alerts which will appear wherever you are on the site. We also have our own in-house features section, which now lives on the homepage and will include articles on site members doing cool stuff as well as interviews with interesting adventurers and high-profile figures. Let us know what you think by leaving your comments on both news and features articles.
3. Social Network
We've completely overhauled the community aspect of the site to improve our social network. For a start, you can log on using one of your other social media profiles. Which is cool. Once you're in, you'll notice that personal profiles look much nicer and are way more functional, making it much easy to manage all your content and contacts in one place. You can now post status updates which will appear on your wall and on your followers' news feeds. Yes, followers - you now have followers and friends, and can easily keep track of all their status updates and the content they share on your own news feed. You can follow anyone on the site, and to turn a follower into a friend all you need to do is follow them back! If you've got existing friends that you'd like to join you on Gapyear, you can now invite them right out of your email address book.
We've taken the old Members section of the site and totally redesigned it to house all the community stuff - including the message boards, where you can now subscribe to threads and get notifications when anyone replies to your post. The big addition to this section is Events. This is a brand new feature on gapyear.com, and we're all super excited about it. An event can be anything, from a members meet-up at a bar in Sydney to an online gathering to discuss something on the site. You can select who you invite, make it public or private, and everyone can add comments on the Event page as plans take shape. We'll be keeping tabs on what's happening with Events at Gapyear HQ and promote the coolest gatherings and shindigs on our re-vamped Community section. As well as additions we have really cool improvements: Blogs are now easier to search and navigate, with new blogs automatically appearing and the best ones being featured by us. Your Photos are much easier to upload and will similarly refresh automatically, with the best ones not only being promoted by us but being used on the site! Similar to news and features, you can leave comments on Photos, Blogs and Events as well!
5. Advice and Articles
One of our favourite areas of the new site is the Advice section. The reason for this is simple: it is amazing content produced by you. We are still a site for backpackers by backpackers, and this section houses articles by members past and present on everything from adrenaline-fuelled adventures and city breaks to pieces on the environment and travel safety. These are informative, funny, entertaining and occasionally quite moving. Some of this stuff is the best of the old site, whereas many of the articles are brand new for the new site. But whether old or new, they're all really accessible, attractive and searchable. Of particular note are the country guides on some of the world's most popular backpacking destinations. This is advice by experienced travellers who've really gotten to know these places, and whether you're planning a trip or just want some interesting travel stories, they're great reads.
6. Gapyear Writers Academy
The way to get your work on to the site is to become part of the Gapyear Writers Academy (GWA). This is not only a brand new gapyear.com feature, but a brand new website! The GWA exists to help budding writers, photographers and film-makers develop and get their stuff published. It works like this: We invite members of the GWA to pitch for commissions to provide material – articles, pictures, video clips – that gapyear.com needs. If we accept your pitch, our team tells you exactly what we want – and after you deliver your first draft we tell you what we think of it and what if anything needs to be changed to make it publishable. Members of the GWA can also send us their ideas, and we'll tell you whether we want them. If we do, we'll brief you about how we want you to put your idea into practice and give you a deadline. And when you deliver your first draft, we'll give you feedback on it. We think this is a great model for making gapyear.com the best travel article and advice source around, and we'd love you all to get involved.
7. Short Gaps
As part of the new site, gapyear.com is launching 'Short Gap'. We realise that a lot of travellers and backpackers don't always go away for a whole year, or even half a year. You might want to just do some inter-railing for a few weeks or a volunteer placement for a month or two. This is still real travelling, and this new section of the site acknowledges that and gives you plenty of ideas from seeing the great cities of Europe by rail to hopping on a truck and doing some crazy overlanding. If general life commitments or simply a shortage of cash mean you can't do a long haul trip but you still want to do some serious travelling, head over to this part of the site.
We're re-launching gapyear.com with travel information and advice for more than 75 countries. For all these countries you'll be able to research how to get there, what jabs to get, what the local currency, customs and languages are, how to get a visa and even what the weather's like! So if you want to know how to cross the border in Cambodia, how not to offend people in Brazil and whether you're going to burn or get drenched in South Africa, it's never been easier to find out. We'll be constantly expanding the number of countries we have, and pretty soon the world will be ours!
One of the first things you'll probably notice on the new site, if not the very first thing, is that we now have tons of very awesome photos. We now have lots of great imagery for the site and lots of our pages have their own featured slideshows. We really love this aspect of the site and we want to make it even better by incorporating your backpacking pictures too, so if you're an amateur or pro photographer and you think you've got better snaps of Machu Picchu or lions in Tanzania, get them up on the site and let us know! But it's not just animals and scenery we want to include. We want the images of you on the beaches, in the forests and up the mountains, with your friends in a crowd or just you on your own. We want to put your experiences front and centre to emphasise that this is a site for and by the people that use it.
10. Look and Feel
Finally, as part of our site re-launch we've splashed a bit of new paint here and there. We've refreshed the logo and the site is a lot cleaner. While hopefully new visitors will think all this new, improved and amended stuff is cool, some of our long-time members might be a bit concerned that we're not the same company we were before. Not the same gapyear.com. But while we've got this funky, shiny new site and a slick updated logo, we're still the same company with the same drive, ethos and sense of fun that Tom Griffiths and Peter Pedrick formed way back in 1997. If you don't believe us, read about it from the man himself - gapyear.com Founder and the original gap year guru Tom Griffiths. As the saying goes: 'The sign above the door has changed, but the people and the ideals are still the same.' We're still committed to giving you the offers, ideas and stories to inspire you, the information and advice to help you plan your trip, and the community to share your experiences with. We're still the same gapyear.com.
Whether you're new to Gapyear or have been a member for ten years, we genuinely hope you're impressed and like the direction things are going for us. Remember this is your site too, so let us know what you think by feeding back on the official thread about the new site.
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