It's been nearly two years since we launched ChicagoNow and we're ready for a facelift. Actually, we're getting more than a facelift. We're pretty much getting a whole new body.
Over the next 3 months we are going to rebuild ChicagoNow from the ground up with our sights set on launching the new site in mid-June. We're going to be moving away from our current blogging platform, Movable Type, and will build a customized platform using Wordpress.
We have 3 main goals with this redesign:
- Create a platform that gives a voice to every Chicagoan who has something to say.
- Make it easier for users to find ChicagoNow blogs they're interested in
- Break down walls between ChicagoNow blogs so content can be more easily shared between blogs.
So why Wordpress? There are many reasons, including because many of our astute bloggers have been asking for it since we launched. Wordpress is a highly-regarded and easily adaptable platform that's growing in prominence throughout the blogging industry.
We've decided to make the project an open book, which is what this blog is all about. It'll be the primary way we share information with our bloggers as well as our readers. We're going to share mock-ups, our development schedule, planned features, pretty much everything you can imagine.
We are also going to want feedback, that's perhaps the most critical part of the project. With that in mind, we're going to hold periodic live chats with myself and members of the development team.
In addition, I've asked two ChicagoNow bloggers -- Doug "Chicago Bulls Confidential" Thonus and Ramon "Chicago Garden" Gonzales -- to participate in Iteration review sessions so we'll be getting direct feedback from two veterans.
A few weeks ago I asked the ChicagoNow bloggers to send me ways to improve the site and I got back dozens and dozens of thoughtful, smart and passionate responses. Many of the ideas have been incorporated into our blueprint.
Among the many features we're planning:
- Readers will be able to register, login and comment using their Facebook accounts.
- Instant analytics for all bloggers via their dashboard
- A "Follow" system so users can find their favorite blogs when returning to ChicagoNow
- Blog-specific content search
- Bloggers will be able to add contributors on their own
- Bloggers will be able to customize their right rails and nav bars on their own
- Ability to "reblog" ChicagoNow posts to other ChicagoNow blogs
- Ability to read, comment and post from mobile devices
- Readers can write their own blog posts
There's a lot more but these are some of the biggies. We'll be rolling these features out over several months so what you see in June will not be the final product.
One thing that's certain is all our bloggers will need to learn the new system. The OnBoarding process will begin, at a minimum, several weeks before our re-launch so don't be concerned that you won't be ready. You will be ready, I'll see to that.
That's it for now. I'll have an announcement soon about our first live chat about the redesign. In the meantime, leave any comments you want here or you can always email me at email@example.com.
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