In the past couple of months I’ve been involved in the reworking of two popular Z scale websites: my own Ztrains.com as well as Ztrack Resale for Rob Kluz over at Ztrack Magazine. While these are both commercial Z scale ventures, there’s more than just business behind these website redesigns. Both Rob and I are just slightly obsessed for all things Z scale and we’re both big believers in presenting a positive web presence for Z scale on the web.
As many long time Z scalers know, local hobby shops (LHS) are a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to dealing with Z scale. If your local shop is active in Z… buy them lunch sometime and say “thanks”. Better yet, support them and buy your next locomotive there! Perhaps more than any other area of model railroading, Z scale is very much an online affair. Most of the people I know in Z I’ve met through online user forums… not from local train clubs or hobby shop chatter.
Because the web is such a key to Z scale’s popularity and continuing growth, I feel there’s a real responsibility and opportunity to present Z scale in a positive light online. Fortunately this is an easy job in many ways because of the products themselves. The overall quality of Z scale products is very high and the principal Z manufacturers are generally responsive to users. It’s easy to get jazzed when the trains are this good.
Many times a potential user’s first contact with Z scale is a web site, and sites that rank high in Z-related Google returns get visited often by newbies. Since we’re always trying to bring new people into the Z scale fold I think it’s really important to give a good, accurate first impression.
Google search returns change often of course, but as of this writing Ztrains.com comes in as a top return over at Google when you search ‘Z scale trains’. That’s where I feel the responsibility comes in. I picture folks doing some web surfing and maybe checking out model trains… if they look into Z scale I want their first impression of our scale to be a positive one. When a guest comes over to my house I want them to feel welcome.
I’ve had several people ask me about the previous Ztrains site, the articles are and why they’re no longer online. Part of putting a good online face to Z scale really called for this new version of Ztrains.com, and with growth usually comes some growing pains.
To our regular readers, we do appreciate your patience as we continue to build our site with both old and new articles in this new format. To our first time visitors and those thinking of joining the Z scale ranks… keep an eye on Ztrains.com and visit often. We’re adding the articles and information that will help you make an informed decision about joining us in Z scale model railroading and once you’re in, information and ideas to help you have more fun.