Since ChicagoNow launched last summer our readers have let us know, repeatedly, that we've needed to do two things better: Search and navigation.
Today, we're very pleased to say we've taken a huge step toward doing just that.
Using software developed by Loud3r, we've launched a revamped site that will do three very important things:
1. Allow the ChicagoNow home page to give exposure to more relevant posts every day.
2. Add a new level of organization, by topic, to ChicagoNow.
3. Vastly improve our search so blogs and bloggers will be easily searchable by name.
How Loud3r Works
Loud3r organizes the site by sections, categories and topics. For example, the sections will be the same as we have now: Arts & Entertainment, Sports, News & Opinion and Life & Style. Many of the categories will be the same as we have now: Movies, Baseball, Politics, etc.
Then within each category we will have thousands of topics, so within baseball we'll have Cubs, White Sox, Derrek Lee, Mark Buehrle, etc. The categories previously were created by our editorial team.
Now, Loud3r will scan every blog post and create topics based on the words and context of the post. Based on those topics, the posts will be placed in categories.
Loud3r also identifies "trending topics" by the number of stories that are generating those keywords. So every category and topic page will have a stream of "trending" posts and a stream of "recent" posts. We will be able to add categories and topics as we see a need for them.
The New Search
One thing that has always frustrated us has been our inability to allow readers to find a blog just by typing in the blog name. That is a thing of the past. In addition, you can now search by a blogger's name or ChicagoNow username.
But let's say this is your first time here and you want to know what we have to offer on, say, fashion. Search for "fashion" and you'll immediately receive dozens of posts from our bloggers who write on this topic.
The New ChicagoNow Home Page
Our old home page we felt was very attractive but had to be curated by a ChicagoNow producer. We did our best to select posts that showed off the diversity and breadth of ChicagoNow.
With Loud3r's algorithm we hope to give Chicagoans what they're interested in. And with the "Trending in Chicago" tab we will also be able to share links from throughout the Chicago media landscape.
We have two feeds on the home page, one we're calling "Recent on ChicagoNow" and the other called "Trending in Chicago."
The "Recent" tab, as you'd expect, only serves up posts that are part of ChicagoNow's 300-plus blog network. The "Trending" tab, on the other hand, will bring up ChicagoNow posts but will also identify and share Chicago-related links from dozens of new and old media outlets.
There's More To Come
When we launched last year with just a handful of bloggers we never dreamed we'd get so big, so fast. We've grown every month of our existence and, thanks to an incredible group of bloggers, expect to finish April with around 15 million page views, another record-setting month.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you think of our changes, as well anything else you'd like to share with us about your experience on ChicagoNow.
The Staff of ChicagoNow
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