Bigger. Better. Faster.
That was the goal roughly a year ago as The Vandalia Leader embarked on creating an improved online experience for readers. As of 4 p.m. Monday, the paper’s website, www.vandalialeader.com is all new.
“This isn’t an upgrade or an overhaul,” said Ron Schott, The Vandalia Leader’s General Manager/Editor. “This is an entirely new website, created from scratch. We sat down and put ourselves in the shoes of our readers. We asked, ‘if you were a frequent visitor to the site, what would you want to see?’”
The result is a vastly improved user experience that streamlines navigation, loads faster and does a better job of highlighting all that the website has to offer.
“There has always been a deep reservoir of information – local, state, national and world news and videos – but that information hasn’t always been easily available or evident. We hope this new site does a better job of getting information to the reader in a quicker, easier way,” Schott said.
From a content standpoint, nothing has been eliminated from the old site during the transition. However, there are several key additions that Schott hopes will add to the functionality of the site.
“Foremost among those changes is our new online Community Calendar,” Schott said. “Groups, charities and civic organizations can now go online to update their events, compare dates to avoid conflicts with other events and just keep up-to-date with what’s going on in our community.”
The submission process is easy. A submission form and instructions are available right on the Community Calendar page.
“Just like Your News – which allows area citizens to share their stories and photos – the calendar submission will go through an editing process before they go live,” Schott said. “But it still should make things a lot better for our area charities and organizations to share their events.”
In addition to improved features and faster uploading speeds, the new site is more logical, according to Seth Horn, digital media director for Lakeway Publishers, Inc.
The old site suffered a bit from the changing of the times. As the world progressed and new web features became available, there wasn’t always a logical way to make the new features work with the old. Going back to the starting point allowed site designers to reimagine how those pieces could fit together and create a design that will be adjustable going forward.
“One of the biggest things is the marrying of local and national contact,” Horn said. “Obviously local content is why people read our newspaper and come to our website. But it makes sense that if you’re looking for business news on The Vandalia Leader website, you may also want to find national business news and national business videos. The same applies for lots of other categories as well.”
The Leader’s mobile website has also undergone an upgrade – albeit far less extensive.
“One of the best features of our new mobile site is you can now watch our local videos on your smart phone,” Schott said. “Now, whether its highlights from the big game, or an especially interesting part of a local meeting, you can share those moments on-the-go with friends and family.”
The site – which is now live – also features some improved advertising options as well with ads that better fit industry standards and are less obtrusively dispersed throughout the site.
“Part of the job of the newspaper is to carry information – whether in print, on the web or through our mobile capabilities – and part of that is carrying the message of our advertising partners to the tens of thousands of readers who rely on The Vandalia Leader to bring them that information,” Schott said. “We think this new site improves the experience not only for the reader, but for the advertiser as well.”