Friday, October 8, 2010
If you're a regular visitor to VPR.net, you may have noticed that we just launched a redesign of the homepage.
The primary reason we redesigned the homepage was to deliver more content to VPR.net visitors. Listeners consistently tell us that, when it comes to the on-air broadcast, they want more news and programming with fewer promotions and fundraising. The prior homepage fell short on this principle: it was great at promoting our service, but the actual content was short-changed.
We flipped that dynamic on the new homepage, placing VPR and NPR News front and center with promotions taking a back seat. There are more News headlines and stories occupying more "above the fold" real estate than ever before. Ongoing features and series, such as "Report From Afghanistan" and "Campaign 2010", are prominently represented on the page. There is more NPR News integrated into the site, and VPR Commentaries have a larger presence.
Another key objective in redesigning the Homepage was to improve technical "accessibility" of the page. Visitors using mobile devices, such as the iPhone, will notice that the page holds up without some of the distortions that occur when someone visits a site on a mobile device. Listeners with visual disabilities, who use "screen readers" to browse the web, will find that the new page is more easily navigated and interpreted by such devices. For our site visitors using dial-up internet connections, the new page is "lighter" and loads more quickly than the prior version: this may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but it is an assurance that we're able to move the site forward without leaving behind any of our visitors/listeners.
What hasn't changed on the new homepage? The links to "Listen Live" online and stream the on-air broadcasts of VPR and VPR Classical are still prominently displayed. Many visitors come to VPR.net primarily to launch the online streams, so we moved them from the right column to the top left corner of the page to make sure they're easily found. While we have moved the Promotions and Programming content down the page, you'll still find the Most Popular, the VPR Blog, links to Facebook & Twitter, and Programming mentions in the lower right corner of the page.
So what comes next? This homepage redesign was just the next step in our efforts to improve the online service for listeners. In the next few months, we plan to redesign the VPR Classical page to create a distinct homepage for this growing service and to give it the same upgrade as the "newsier" homepage. We also plan to develop more ways for listeners to access VPR and VPR Classical programming on mobile and other new devices. Listeners can already listen to VPR and VPR Classical on their iPhones, and browse VPR News headlines on mobile devices, but we'd like to improve these services so listeners can access more VPR News wherever they are.
Of course, projects like these require the contributions from a wide variety of folks. The entire staff at VPR played a role, from providing input and feedback, to developing and helping launch the new page. We also work with a couple of stellar local Vermont-based agencies: Found Line, our partners in web design, development, and strategy, and Clearbearing, the team that keeps our networks and web servers stable and secure. Of course, first and foremost, everything we do, and every service we provide, is because of the support of our listeners.
If you have questions, comments, complaints, or suggestions about the new homepage, or anything we do at VPR, we'd love to hear from you.