Lately I’ve been getting e-mails from people who’ve recently discovered the Gluten-Free Guidebook. That’s always welcome, but some of these messages have been a little… odd. One asked for information about restaurants in Turkey. Another asked specifically about Istanbul. Another about Barcelona. Yet another wanted restaurant suggestions for New York City. In each case, I stared at the e-mail, wondering why the person had bothered to write to me when the information they were looking for was available on the site. It’s not as if I keep a secret cache of restaurant names. If I know about a place, it’s almost certainly on the site. Then I got an e-mail praising the site, but adding that it would be even better if there were a search box.
I was baffled. There is a search box. It’s right above the tag cloud. You know, the one filled with place names — like Turkey and Spain and New York City — that help people quickly locate what they’re looking for.
But it hit me suddenly that people are having trouble finding what they need on the site. There’s so much information packed into it, that it can make a specific restaurant harder to find — especially if English isn’t your first language.
So, to make the Gluten-Free Guidebook easier to search, I’ve restructured the sidebar that runs down the right side of the page. The search box has been moved up, so that it’s immediately visible when you open the homepage. Underneath it is the tag cloud, which has the names of places (such as Istanbul, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and New York), that have been featured on the site frequently. But the tag cloud isn’t all-inclusive. To find information about a city that doesn’t appear in the tag cloud, such as Barcelona, just type it into the search box. All posts that include Barcelona will come up in your search.
There are more than two years of posts on the site, and I hope that these changes will make it easier to access all of that information. If it doesn’t come up in the search box, it’s not on the site.
* * *
After my last post, about why the Reader Report Contest needs more entries, I received a couple more. That’s great, particularly because all of the entries I’ve received at this point are about places that haven’t been featured on the site before. I’m grateful to the people who’ve written them for sharing such helpful information. But most of the people reading this post still haven’t entered. The deadline is June 30, 2010. The guidelines are here. Wherever you are, I look forward to reading your Reader Reports.