At the beginning of 2013 we launched, together with Sabine Marschall from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a hyperlocal website focused on the community of Inanda, just north of Durban. The website, eNanda.co.za, aims to become a repository of stories on the culture and heritage of the community, with the intension of attracting more tourists to the area. Content is a combination of user-generated articles and stories researched and written by students attached to the project. The entire website is bilingual (English/Zulu), with the ability to easily switch between the two languages. Video and audio content is also, for the most part, bilingual. All content added to the site is tagged with geo-location data, which can be viewed on an interactive map.
Looking back at the first month of the project, the usage statistics show an interesting result. Close to 99% of users are from South Africa, with the majority coming from Durban (24 kilometres from where the content was produced). Users are finding the site through Zulu-language and location specific searches, for example ‘ebuhleni enanda’. The average visit duration is long – at over 5 minutes per user – as is the number of pages they view (4 per user), suggesting that users are interested in the content the website has to offer.
While I realise the website is still brand-spankingly new, thus making it difficult to draw substantive conclusions from the usage data, it does point to a trend I have noticed in other local content/local language projects I am involved with.