EveryBlock’s one year birthday

Jan232009

One year ago today, we flipped the switch and launched EveryBlock to the world.

There are lots of ways to measure how far we’ve come since that first day. We launched in three cities, and today we cover eleven cities across the U.S. We started with 37 types of data, and today we have more than 130 unique data types, with 602 different sources of news and blogs alone.

But probably the most obvious sign that we’ve made some progress over the last year is also the most visible. We’ve got a kick out of digging up screenshots from launch day and comparing them to what the site looks like now. We thought it would be fun to share, and take a quick look back to celebrate our first birthday.

City homepages

The original city homepage design had one thing going for it: it was simple:

From the beginning, we wanted the homepage for each city to get people to the place they were looking for as soon as possible. We must have done something right, because the page was almost entirely navigation. We’ve added a lot of content to the site since then, and we’ve learned a lot about how people use the site.

In September, we redesigned the city homepages to include a lot more content up front and give a better idea of what the site is all about. Here’s what it looks like now:

Section pages

The section pages on EveryBlock let you drill down into one particular type of content (like crimes, articles or restaurant inspections) and get an overview of trends across the entire city.

When we launched, the goal of the design was to be as flexible as possible, since we didn’t always know what it would look like for new types of data.

We redesigned the section pages in October to make the layout more consistent and to make the navigation more prominent and easy to use. In November, we revamped the entire system for searching and browsing data on EveryBlock and integrated that “custom filter” with the section page navigation. Here’s what it looks like now:

Place pages

Probably the most important pages on EveryBlock are what we call “place pages.” When you search for an address or browse to a neighborhood, this is what you get. The core of it is a timeline of the most recent content near that place that we’ve found on EveryBlock.

In the beginning, it was about as bare-bones as you could get.

Once you get past the enormous icons, it’s amazing just how basic the information is. The map is on a separate page, and we didn’t even have thumbnails for the photos! Fairly soon after launch we created a system so that we could customize how each different type of content appeared in these lists. That allowed us to show thumbnails for photos and color codes for restaurant inspections, and generally show more relevant information in context. We also eventually came to our senses and made smaller versions of the icons (thanks to the multi-talented Nathan Borror, who designed all the icons for EveryBlock) and put the map back next to the list where it belonged.

More recently (just a couple of weeks ago, in fact) we added a new “overview” feature to the place pages in addition to the main timeline view that lets you see trends and breakdowns for different types of information in the area. To put it into perspective, all the citywide information we had on the section pages when we launched is now available for every block and neighborhood in the city.

We’re really proud of how far EveryBlock has come since we launched a year ago, but we can’t take all the credit ourselves. From day one, we’ve received great feedback and ideas from our users. Whether it’s something you liked, or something we needed to fix or improve, it’s all been incredibly helpful as we continue to develop the site. Keep it coming, and thanks to everyone for spreading the word about EveryBlock.

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