Rochdale Online is the founding partner of a growing number of News, Business and Community portals released under the Ask Local framework. The system provides a fully-featured, scalable framework for businesses or individuals to create a locally-based successful online business for their town or area.
The original model was based on Rochdale Online's success as an independent local portal, but in late 2006 reached an impasse in terms of its scalability and flexibility.
A new, scalable framework was required that would allow new local portal sites to be created, yet re-using central code and resources to ensure that all potential site owners could benefit from future development.
The new system had to be not only capable of sustaining very high load, but also required the flexibility of the following functionality:
- News - Online news articles with wide-ranging features such as multiple categories, multiple images, video, documents, publish/embargo times and much more.
- Classifieds - A classifieds advertising section to allow for Residential & Commercial Property and Jobs. This needed the ability to auto-import data feeds from a range of different providers, such as the many and varied software vendors used by Estate Agents.
- Business - A fully-featured Business Listing section with options for management of sponsored links, paid premium listings and more.
- Business Profiles - A mechanism to allow small (and large) businesses to run their own, content-managed multi-page web profile with a choice of templates.
- Community - Community listings and profiles, based on the business versions, but free to community groups in the franchise area.
- Advertising - A web advertising model capable of both accepting advertising from traditional ad-serving networks as well as in-house produced adverts, with a range of statistics and placement flexibilities.
This is just a fraction of what was required, and in late 2006 to early 2007, RO Web Solutions burned the midnight oil to prepare the new framework for launch in mid March!
In 2013 it became apparent that more and more mobile users were using the site so the site was recoded to be mobile and tablet-friendly. The percentage of mobile users continues to grow, and with Google announcing mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in 2015, proved to be resources well spent.