Town Square

Where I come from, the town square is the guy wearing plaid pants, but that’s another story. There are many laudable things about the Town Square project here in Charlottetown, but giving businesses the ability to create ugly dreck like this is not one of them.

The aim of this “microsite” part of the Town Sqaure project is to “assist local business owners in utilizing E-business in their day to day operations.” What they have done, in the case of Sherwood Do-it Centre, is to ensure that nobody with any sense of aesthetics, design or style will patronize the business.

Design is hard. It takes smart people to do well. The more this “empowerment through amateur crap distribution” philosophy takes hold, the further we’re going to be from a day where the web actually is useful.

The irony? Sherwood Do-it Centre already has a website (I guess this would be their “macrosite?”) and while it’s not a paragon of design excellence, it considerably more well put together than its micro cousin.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on November 7, 2002 - 22:37 Permalink

Thanks for the link/compliment. What I find most bewildering about the Town Square ‘microsite’ scheme is that is seems to be a government funded organization competing (however poorly) with private business. This isn’t really our target market, so it’s not my money, but if a business ever did decide to spend some cash on a “microsite” with Town Squate, that business is being lost by other small web firms.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 7, 2002 - 22:54 Permalink

It is not only lost revenue to those good people that would provide intellegent design — but it is also wasted expenditure from a presumably limited source that won’t be replaced. The ungodly amount that was announced for the total project is gone and is not available for sensible work or development of the sector…let alone not avialble to fund something properly in the government realm like PEI’s lack of child psychologists for kids with learning disabilities. The priorities are whacked.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on November 7, 2002 - 23:17 Permalink

An open letter to the Virtual Charlottetown Project… ?

Derek MacEwen's picture
Derek MacEwen on November 7, 2002 - 23:47 Permalink

Town Square seems to have been founded on the premise that
no one has a website. There is no provision (other than buying
a banner ad) to include existing sites in their framework,
which is, I suspect, the reason for the Do It Centre’s “Mini-Me”
version of its regular site. They have to be able to include
the hundreds of existing sites already built in the greater
Ch’town area. They also have to be able to have an easy
way for a new company to build a website that won’t be an
embarrassment to the company, and to Townsquare. Maybe that
means referring requests to a bona fide web designer who would
build the site framework under the Town Square umbrella
(do town squares have umbrellas?), and include
“content areas” that the user can easily change.

Ken's picture
Ken on November 7, 2002 - 23:50 Permalink

The Townsquare site reloads itself every minute, probably to inflate the hit counter. I bet there is a PC somewhere (in the ATC?) with about 50 instances of Explorer sitting there clicking away, justifying those government dollars.
Throw more money at technology! We don’t care what it does, other than looking good to us, we like technology!
I just wish I got paid to build Townsquare.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 8, 2002 - 13:31 Permalink

But why a portal? Why do you “need to include” perfectly sensible websites in…another website? Did anyone ask whether having that great 1996 idea of a portal made any sense before throwing nine million — that was the quoted budget, wasn’t it — nine million at it.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 8, 2002 - 14:32 Permalink

Just another example of wasted tax money. The intentions of Virtual Charlottetown were good, the results stink. I have a question for all of you living in the Charlottetown Region, has Town Square made you life on-line less of a hassle? Chances are it hasn’t, and won’t.

They had the money to do something great, what happened?

Derek MacEwen's picture
Derek MacEwen on November 8, 2002 - 15:15 Permalink

Re: the need for a portal
Until search engines get much, much better, there is a definite
need for portals which provide localized community directories.

Let’s use an example:
If you want to find the Sherwood Do It Centre, or Southport Home Hardware,
or Schurman’s, or the little hardware store in Cornwall, or Metro Building supplies,
or Bagnall’s, you would think that going to, and
typing in something like:
Charlottetown area building supplies dealer
would return you a nice list of stores in the Charlottetown
area which specialize in building supplies.
Schurman’s, Home Hardware, and Do-It all have websites (some of the
others may too). If you are new to the Ch’town area,
I dare you to find any of them (without knowing
their name) using a search engine!

Even though portals still have a use, a portal which requires you
to buy a microsite to get listed is probably not the best
way to spend 9 million dollars!

Alan's picture
Alan on November 8, 2002 - 17:17 Permalink

A directory of Island businesses exists on Yahoo. Google found all the named bulding supply shops in 0.33 seconds. Steve Garrity, being a “Smart Person”, got Google to do it in 0.21 seconds. No fee. Can I spend the 9 million how I want now?

Dan's picture
Dan on November 8, 2002 - 17:29 Permalink

Peter, could you list and describe the “laudable” things in the townsquare project? Your sleuthing skills must be more refined than mine.

Derek MacEwen's picture
Derek MacEwen on November 8, 2002 - 18:41 Permalink

Re finding building supply stores without a portal:

You guys must be good! When I go to the Yahoo Canada Business Finder
for PEI and type in “Building supply”, it gives me only one
place: Leisure World! (maybe your houses are made out of Popsicle(tm)/craft sticks)

Going to Google, I was not able to locate any of the stores
with “Charlottetown area building supplies dealer”.
With “building supply stores pei” I was able to locate Schurman’s.

My point is that “casual” searchers have great difficulty in
locating local businesses without a portal or business directory.
BTW, I did find one portal with a directory of PEI businesses
which was able to locate the stores: InfoPEI (,
built by some guy named Rukavina!
(you’ll have to ask him whether he got $9 million for it…)

Alan's picture
Alan on November 8, 2002 - 18:47 Permalink

Try “Charlottetown bulding supplies”…

Alan's picture
Alan on November 8, 2002 - 18:48 Permalink

…not wanting to be snarky, Derek, just to show it is already there…

Alan's picture
Alan on November 8, 2002 - 21:02 Permalink

…not wanting to be snarky, Derek, just to show it is already there…

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on November 8, 2002 - 23:59 Permalink

Your stuttering again Alan

John's picture
John on November 19, 2002 - 02:27 Permalink

townsquare doesnt help us out at all, however it may help some people out. Not sure exactly who, but their has to be ONE person out their!

charles axworthy's picture
charles axworthy on March 1, 2005 - 19:05 Permalink

I just wish I had known about the 9Mil industry canada and stake holders were spending prior to attempting to do the same thing out of my own pocket (odd though, I was online first, and had the same price / mini site as townsquare finally set on). mine was a ‘web presence without the web’ as company slogan.

The intent of the my site is now gone, but the virtual charlottetown is coming along nicely.

I started working on it (models) back in 1997.

much more to do, but I’m now getting about 1 building / week modeled.

The image maps are now the big slowdown.

But as was said before, townsqure sucks.