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.
Dan Alexander is publisher and owner of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.