LitMatch: Research Literary Agents and Track Submissions

Friday, September 4, 2009

Preview #7 - User Profiles

In my first preview, I wrote about some of the motivations behind the LitMatch redesign. Of those motivations, one of the biggest was wanting to find a way to allow our users to find and connect with each other. It was that desire that led us to decide early on that the new site would go beyond presenting listings and tracking submissions, and become a full-flegded social network.

The next series of previews will focus on some of the social networking features on the new site. Let's start by taking a look at how users can share information about themselves with each other.

When you first log on to the new site, one of the first things you'll want to do is complete your user profile page. The user profile contains basic information about yourself that you choose to share with other users. It is the face that you present on the site, and can contain as much, or as little, information about yourself as you care to share.

First off is the basic information. You can post your real name; a link to your website; your general location; whether you're a writer, agent, editor, etc.; and a few paragraphs about yourself. There's also space for a profile image, which will appear alongside some of the other content you can create on the site, as well as lists of the content you've created or contributed to. We've also added a status message, similar to the ones you see on Facebook and MySpace, that lets you share up-to-the minute information about yourself, your mood, what you're working on, or anything else that comes to mind.

Your profile also provides some powerful options to help you connect with other users who share similar interests, as well as to help you find experts who might be willing to help you improve your writing. Each user can enter lists for their favorite authors, interests & hobbies, and areas of expertise. Other users can then search on these terms, or click on a term from a user profile, in order to find users with similar interests or needs.

It's a simple thing, but it has some powerful applications. Most obviously, it lets you find users you might want to get to know, because they have interests in line with your own. It also allows you to find users who might be able to help you develop your writing. Need an expert in space exploration for your science fiction novel, or a Civil War re-enactor to help with your historical novel? Just run a search. Looking for an H.P. Lovecraft fan to help critique your new horror story? Look one up. As the site continues to grow and develop, so too will the number of ways that you can meaningfully connect with other users.

Once you find other users, you'll need some ways to contact them. In the next preview, I'll go over the new ways in which users will be able to talk to each other. Until then, have a great Labor Day weekend, and try to get some writing in as well!

Christopher Hawkins

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