Despite earning a first place award earlier this year from the Free Community Papers of New York for our website, www.denpubs.com, we made the decision back in May to move forward with a major overhaul of the site. Well, actually, that’s not exactly correct, the decision we made was to change the host, completely redesign and launch 24 new websites.
Let me explain.
In 2009, we expanded our family of publications when we formed Community Media Group, LLC and acquired the Eagle News Group in Central New York and the Spotlight Newspaper Group in the Capital District. Much like the Denton Publications, the network of community newspapers serving the Adirondack Region, we saw tremendous synergy for our advertisers and readers by adding the Eagle and Spotlight groups to our family of publications which also includes two publications in Vermont, the Addison Eagle and Green Mountain Outlook.
Creating a network of sites that are easily navigated allows readers the opportunity to either go directly to the hometown site or the regional site or, if traveling, to one of the other regions.
While the 24 ultra local news sites are now live, having launched them the weekend Irene came to visit, we still have a tremendous amount of work to do as we build the sites out completely. Working with EllingtonCMS, a firm that helped the Knoxville News of Tennessee win a first place award from the National Newspaper Association, the new sites are loaded with so many features, we’ll be hard at work for some time deploying all available options.
Speaking of Irene, the speed and flexibility at which we can upload articles and make photo galleries and videos available seems to be very popular with readers. Within our immediate market, our internal tracking tools tell us that the first week the new site was available, we had over 10 times the normal traffic we have historically seen on our old site.
And while I’m still learning all the new language that goes with this new parallel newspaper universe, I’m told the “stickiness” of the new site rivals that of the national average of the most popular websites out in cyberspace. “Stickiness” is the amount of time users spend on the site.
Our staff and the people at EllingtonCMS were really put to the challenge getting the new sites launched. I am so very proud of our staff for their perseverance and ability to solve the many problems with bringing these sites to life and then populating them with your news and information.
The primary key to the new sites’ functionality will be the ability for you to use and interact with the sites, other readers and the staff. The new platform allows us to interact more closely with you and you to interact more closely with us. There is a direct feed between the articles we post and Facebook and Twitter. The Mobile application has yet to be deployed but will be shortly, giving readers multiple ways to receive their community news and updates to breaking stories.
As technology and reading habits change, our goal is to offer you every possible platform choice. We don’t see our 17-unit printing press going away anytime soon, but the ability to get news to you via many methods as quickly as possible will assist us in staying competitive.
Once the sites are fully built out, we plan to invite many of our independent printing customers to join our network. By offering this service, the addition of their local news will add to the usefulness of the site.
For over 60 years Denton Publications, frequently called the “little company that could,” has found ways to overcome many obstacles and continued to meet the needs of its customers. We hope this new offering proves to be just as important to our future as was the installation of our offset printing press way back in the 1960s.
Oh, and one last thing. You’ll start to see user Blogs begin to populate the site. Anyone can place a Blog up on the new site. Just go to Blogs and click on the tab to create one. Of course, we’ll have to approve the content for safety purposes but it’s just one of the many new and exciting features available to you. So go surfing, enjoy the new features and let us know what you think of our new websites.
Dan Alexander is publisher and owner of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com.