New website gives us room to grow online
I’m not going to trot out a “giving birth” analogy, but there was a lot of labor involved in bringing our new website to life.
We quietly launched the site last week without fanfare, sort of a live beta test, to see how it worked and to get some spontaneous feedback from people who came across it (positive so far).
We’re excited about the new www.methowvalleynews.com, which has been in the works for at least a year, from concept to execution.
Early on, we decided to use the WordPress platform and design the new site ourselves. WordPress has several advantages: it’s free or, with some improvements, inexpensive. It has lots of different “looks” that can serve as the basis for an effective design. It has bells and whistles (widgets) that can be activated or added to make the site more useful and interesting. And it’s accessible and flexible enough that it can be developed and maintained relatively easily. We wanted to internally control the design and look of the site not just from the start, but also into the future, and make it simple enough for many of us to administrate.
Then came a lot of discussion and review of other websites to see what we liked. The heavy lifting in designing the site was done by Sue Misao, who immersed herself in WordPress so thoroughly that she’s become something of an html geek. Robin Doggett drew on her considerable experience in design and her expansive knowledge of how these things work (I pretty much don’t know) to help shape the site and make it workable for our advertisers. The two of them made it happen. Meanwhile, Marilyn Bardin got herself an education in how to conduct online commerce so we can make our subscriptions easier to deal with. Our outside technical assistance came from the ever-patient, cheerful and optimistic Ross Allen, who credibly assured us all along the way that problems could and would be solved.
A week or so in, we are identifying things we want to change or improve about the site right away, and also are continuing work on other features that we will continue to add as soon as possible. Some of those include the ability to buy or renew a subscription, or buy copies of our photographs, online using a credit card; a gallery of photos submitted by readers; and other interactive features that will allow website visitors to engage what’s on www.methowvalleynews.com and add to it.
Some things to note: Site users can now access full digital versions of our annual supplements, such as Methow Valley Summer, Valley Vows and Methow Home. We will have a searchable archive of items on the site, which won’t just disappear as they did on the old site. And we’re going to do a better job of providing breaking news updates throughout the week.
We see many more possibilities to explore. Let us know what you think, and how www.methowvalleynews.com might serve its users better.
What we’re made of
Tucked inside this week’s issue you will find our bigger (and we think better) second annual Made in the Methow publication, celebrating the valley’s broad range of creativity.
Tucked inside Made in the Methow is a special insert provided by TwispWorks as part of its “Methow Made” campaign to develop a brand and a marketing plan for the valley’s products. The campaign focuses this year on agriculture, but is designed to help sell all locally made products in and beyond the valley. The middle spread of the insert is a map that will help you find merchants and producers who are actively participating in the “Methow Made” program.
The News partnered with TwispWorks to produce the supplement and insert as part of an ongoing effort to promote what is best about the valley (beyond its magnificent scenery and boundless recreational opportunities, of course): The energy and imagination of its residents. We hope you’ll spend some time with Made in the Methow to learn more about them and what they do.