Following on from the mtvan booking page, the next update I’ve been working on is the long overdue revamp of the courier directory. This part of the site provides a listing of owner drivers and courier companies for other site members.

It ought to allow members to quickly find others with required skills and availability in the desired location. Unfortunately the old version struggled a little to achieve that.

What we had to beat

The old directory provided a paged listing of all the members on the site. It allowed re-sorting by whatever location you chose to enter. However it was built before we’d implemented a really solid ‘service types’ matrix, so selecting skills was not possible. You could also search against company names and first/last names – it was a little hit and miss though. As it was one of my first ventures into using AJAX, it was a bit heavy and annoyingly didn’t save state – it was not possible to select a courier and then hit ‘back’ and be where you left off. Oh, and the SQL queries were not fantastic so that slowed things down too!

The new mtvan courier directory

So… what have we done for the new page (above) then?

Combined SQL Queries

The new page also displays our empty couriers, as well as the directory. Despite doing more, we now perform just 2 queries to the database and bring back only what we need. Previously a lot of logic was performed in PHP before a result was calculated.  Now all that is sorted before any data comes back. It’s really very fast now.

Sort by any column (almost)

The new directory is sortable by any column (apart from the ones that don’t make sense to sort by). It’s intuitive and helps you find what you want ASAP.

Display Service Types Offered

We now provide a full listing of all service types members can handle. You can drill down results by service type too.

Trusted Status

This was one of our very old ideas that got binned. Now we realise better the value of being able to create your own ‘favorite’ list of couriers. This is now included: you can add and remove your trusted members with just one click. It’s all AJAX so things get done on the fly. Again, you can drill down to display just your trusted members only too. We plan to build on this feature heavily in the future.

Saves State

If you navigate away from the page and go ‘back’, the state is as you left it. You can try the next search result rather than having to refill the form.

Give it a try

The courier directory is free to use for anyone in the transport and logistics industry. Get started on mtvan and start building your business relationships today.

Update 18/05/2011: You can check out more about the courier directory here.

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