A letter from Barry Leffler, owner of Chapelboro.com and 97.9 FM WCHL
Welcome to Chapelboro 2.0! As you view this website for the first time today, you will find the newly designed Chapelboro.com is live.
Six months in the making, and with two years of learning under our belts, the new design and functionality is a great evolution of Chapelboro. You’ll find it easier to navigate. You’ll find it easier on the eyes. You’ll find it a great step forward for our community’s “Digital Town Square”.
Chapelboro 2.0 (as we have been referring to it in house!) carries the same great features but with a far better user experience. And it will only get better! Over the next week or so you will notice the final stages of this rebirth as we restore some of the functionality you already depend on but in an easier to find and use way. Also over the next few days or so, the new Chapelboro.com will load differently depending on your device and/or browser. This will not be an issue for much longer as we are building the coding to be responsive to how you read us (more on Responsive programming below). Our mobile version of the site will be amazing and should be ready in the next day or two and a new app is on the way (just waiting for the approval from Apple). Thank you for coming along on the final steps of the journey to make Chapelboro.com even better.
As you browse the new website, here is just a portion of the highlights:
- We have studied hard how our users navigate the site and have incorporated that learning into a design that we hope you’ll agree lets the site breath more while still presenting the enormous variety of features available throughout the site.
- You will also see a very large image flipper at the top of the site which our editors will populate every day with five important/interesting stories, photo galleries, columns, lifestyle stories and contests. We all love pictures and images and this new feature showcase should be a great way to draw people into the site.
- The News feed below this Feature Box is easier to read as is the list of our latest Local Buzz Columns and Lifestyle stories.
- The Photo Gallery flipper further down the home page is larger and with better resolution.
***The entire site has been redesigned from the ground up more a modern sleek feel that has tested very well with our beta users.
- You will LOVE the new photo flipper in our Photo Gallery section which changes the pictures without a refresh and the film strip below lets you easily get to any photo in a snap. Overall, an easier viewing experience!
- You will find the site loads much faster now that we have moved our hosting to Amazon’s world-class servers.
- “Weather” is the number one thing people go to the internet for… and we have placed a great weather widget near the top of almost every page which gives our users instant, useful information about current conditions and the forecast for the next three days (hover over the icons for a more robust forecast).
- One other significant functionality piece to note: the navigation/title bar at the top has been reduced in size and is locked in place when you scroll so navigating the site, searching for content or listening to WCHL is always easily accessible.
- Within a week, we will turn on “responsive programming” which will auto-detect the size of the monitor or device you are using as well as the browser… and deliver a version of Chapelboro designed to fit the screen. This means on wide-screen monitors the site will have three columns and fill out the monitor. On smaller screens and devices, the site may be reduced to two columns but with all of the same features and functionality. This is cutting edge web design and we’re excited to being it Chapelboro.
***There’s a list of another couple dozen improvements that may or not be noticeable… but they’re there!
In addition to the website, we are launching a new mobile version of the website in the next day or two for those on the go. And we are waiting for Apple to approve and release a new iPhone app.
When we launched Chapelboro.com two years ago, the concept of media companies creating a menu of original local news, photos and exclusive attractions for the web was novel. And for the most part it still is, as most in our industry are still just regurgitating the content they already produce for their newspaper, magazine, TV station and radio station.
Our approach to adding to our core product each and every day is clearly a big hit with those who live, work and play in the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Our readers know they can come to Chapelboro every day and be guaranteed to see what’s new. In fact, they can come multiple times a day and see something new and as compelling as the lives they live.
And the proof is there that they are responding positively: when we launched two years ago we were averaging 25,000 unique visitors per month from our old site. Our business plan looked to grow that to 40,000 unique users per month at this point. But an amazing thing happened about a year ago… we started far out-pacing our projections. ***And today (and over the last nine months), Chapelboro.com is averaging 70,000 unique visitors per month!!!! Thank you to you, our users for coming back over and over and over again… and for sharing our content with those in your personal and professional networks.
As with most websites, there are some bugs at launch which we will address quickly. And there is new functionality that will be added in the next week or so. We appreciate your understanding and ask to please provide us any and all feedback on the new site. You can e-mail me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will pass your comments/suggestions on to our team.
Finally, a BIG thank you to our advertising marketing partners, who make it possible to bring the vast content of attractions, including breaking news throughout the day and a cornucopia of local features we produce every day, to the community and those connected to our community. Most of you our partners have been advertising with Chapelboro.com since Day 1 two years ago (we launched CB on May 1, 2011!). We never ask the public for money. We are “advertiser supported” and we ask that you support and patronize the advertisers you see throughout the site.
In conclusion, we know we need to earn your loyalty every day. Please know how much we appreciate your support of our family-owned/locally operated company!
Thanks you again, and please send me your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to view and explore what we have been calling: Chapelboro 2.0!!!
CEO and Managing Partner
Chapelboro.com / 97.9 FM WCHL / OurLocalDeal.com