The Close by Me community consists of a user-friendly system that allows users to interact with messages posts and other users easily. The first page that greets users is the Close by Me Home Page. This page presents a summary of message posts in the system filtered by an initial set of search criteria: starting point and distance. If this is your first time to the system, the system will typically default to New York City with a search distance of 25 miles. If you are returning to the system and have previously registered, or have let your browser store cookies (your previous settings may be stored in your browser’s cookies), then the Close by Me Home page may default to your previous search settings.
Note: cookies are essential to the Close by Me system; they help to maintain a session with the back-end server, allowing you to interact seamlessly with multiple parts of the community.
The Home page has the following sections:
- The main menu - Using the menu items, you can navigate across different modules of the application.
- The search area - The options of the search area help you to search your contacts using different search criteria such as name, city, postal code, keywords, and distance from your point of location.
- The main workspace – Tabbed setting containing information about the community based on the search settings and the current user
The main workspace is divided up by tabs to gain a high-level overview, dashboard of the system. If you are logged on, than you will see more tabs containing information tailored to your interests.
The main workspace of the application consists of the following tabs:
- Topic and Discussion
- Personal Connections
- Messenger Requests
- About Close by Me
Note: You can view the Personal Connections and Messenger Requests tabs only after registering with Close by Me.
The Classifieds tab gives you the overview and summary of the posts under each category and associated sub-categories. This tab typically represents messages about employment, services, jobs, real estate, things for sale, activities, etc. This tab also allows you to drill down further under each category’s subcategory to see listing on a subsequent page. Each of the category/sub-categories has two numbers associated with it: messages from all members in the community, and messages from your friends or people you follow. These numbers are reflective of the originating postal/zip code and distance you selected in the search criteria, as well as the optional keyword you may have provided. If you increase the distance, you may yield more posts, but it will also result in having to scour more results for what you are looking for. Conversely, if you tighten the distance too much, you may retrieve little or no results. The page effectively reflects what you are looking for, and how far you are willing to look from where your search starts.
The Classifieds tab allows you to:
- View posts listed under the selected sub-category.
- Drill down to list a list of messages that compose the category/sub-category number
- Review posts from the community as well as users you may follow
You can find the following categories on the classifieds page with different sub-categories under them:
- Employment: You can find the posts related to employment under this category. These are usually long term jobs as opposed to project or freelance work which is listed in another category.
- For Sale: You can find the posts related to buying and selling several items from antiques to art, automobile, electronic goods, toys, music, travel, etc., under this category.
- Community: You can find the posts related to different communities existing on Close by Me and join the community of your interest.
- Events: You can find the posts related to different events such as outdoor activities, career, night-life and dancing, music, arts, theatres, dating, sports, etc.
- Freelance/Gigs: You can find posts related to all kinds of freelance jobs in the sub-categories such as computers, labor, writing, etc.
- Real Estate: All posts related to housing and office needs can be found under this category.
- Services: All posts related to professional services offered by other individuals, organizations or businesses are listed here
- Personals: You can find the posts related to one's personal connections under this category.
- The following icons help you in identifying the postings from all members and from your friends.
- Indicates message posts from all members in the community
- Indicates message posts from your friends and people you follow
Topics and Discussion is like the categories tab, but offers up a forum to talk about ideas, share information and find messages of interest close to you. It is sort of like a stage to exchange ideas and converse with people close to you. The sub-categories under Topics cover a myriad of subjects and areas of interest. Like the classifieds section, you can tighten or loosen the distance of coverage, to find messages or posts of interest close or far away. Additionally, like the classifieds section, you review posts from the community as a whole or just from users or friends you follow.
In addition to searching for message posts in close proximity, you can also interact and follow people and friends in the community. Close by Me allows you to create a social personal and business connections. This can be done in many ways, such as:
- Forward message posts to others, or responding to user posts
- Inviting friends to the community or locating the people existing on Close by Me and adding them to your network
- Accepting invites from other users
- Social bookmark a post you created and allow people visiting your profile to see the Close by Me bookmark. They can explore your posts as well as the posts created by others on Close by Me, etc.
The above options expand your social network on Close by Me. Also they maximize the scope of your network and interactivity connects with other users. Among the many things you can do with friends and connections in Close by Me including:
- View how many friends you have in your initial search range, and proximity to where you are, and drill down to see who they are
- View the total number of friends you have in the community, and drill down to see who they are
- Review requests from other users to become friends, and follow them in the community
- View your pending invites; invites you have sent to other users
- Add and remove a user s from your friends' list
- Invite more people, either internally in the community or outside to connect as friends
- View all read, received, sent and deletes emails you have in your email folders, as well as drill down and view those emails.
The Personal connection’s tab serves as a summary of your connections in the community, from friend invites, requests, and email correspondence.
This page has the following categories:
- Friends: The options of this category help you to view your friends in range and total friends on Close by Me.
- Friend Requests: The options of this category help you to view friend requests, pending invites, and send invites to your friends.
- Email Correspondence: The options of this category help you to view the status of your mails and correspond with your contacts.
One of the best features of the Close by Me community is the ability of users, both registered and guests, to instant message authors of message posts. In order for this to occur, you have to be logged in to the system and actively online. The Close by Me system checks once every minute to see if you are online, and then checks to see if you have any pending requests to engage in an online chat conversation. If you have authored a post, or are simply online, a user may try and contact you. If you have no requests to chat, the “Incoming Message Requests” box will appear blue and indicate “no incoming requests”. You do not need to refresh your screen, as this will be done automatically for you in one minute intervals
If you do indeed have a pending request to chat, the box will change from blue to orange/yellow, containing a list of all users who want to chat. For each user request listed, you will see the user’s name, what message post they want to talk to you about (if they are indeed trying to contact you about a message post), and their general location. Because Close by Me allows not only registered users, but visitors as well to chat and engage other users, you may see the user name listed as “Guest”.