RALEIGH – WRAL TechWire’s new mobile-friendly website, which launched in December, took first place for Best Redesign/Relaunch in the Local Media Association Digital Innovation Contest.
A total of 70 different companies representing newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and digital news sites competed for a variety of awards. Entries were judged by faculty at Northwestern University’s Medill School.
The WRAL Digital Solutions team unveiled the site December 1. At that time, a paywall also was removed.
Since then, readership has tripled year-over-year and grown steadily each month with more than 50 percent of that growing audience coming from users utilizing mobile devices.
“A mobile-first redesign was long overdue, particularly for a tech-savvy audience,” said John Conway, general manager of CBC New Media, the division of Capitol Broadcasting that publishes WRAL TechWire.
“By doing a complete website redesign, rebranding and relaunch in house, we were able to showcase the full suite of talents of the WRAL Digital Solutions team — and deliver a much-improved experience for the TechWire audience. In other words, we ate our own dog food — and it was delicious.”
Rick Smith, editor of TechWire and a cofounder of the site which launched as Local Tech Wire in January 2002, praised the team’s effort.
“More and better images, more video, navigation made more simple, and specific attention to design to better support all mobile devices could have only come about through a team both talented and passionately committed to the site’s presentation and, even more importantly, its technical delivery,” Smith said. “We also have secured additional writers and sources for content in order to present within that site stories, videos, graphics and photos that our growing audience of readers demand. This team did a superb – or, as John said, a ‘delicious’ job.”
The TechWire site won in a category that included all classifications of companies making entries. Second and third place went to Graham Media Group’s WDIV Local 4 and Click on Detroit respectively.
Members of the design team are pictured above. From left, they are:
- Hannah Bryan – SEO and Content Manager
- James Amato – Manager of Strategy & Business Development
- Jodi Leese Glusco – New Media Director of Content
- Laney Willis – Digital Project Manager
- Jake Seaton – New Media Digital Project Manager
- Jana Crye – Web Designer
- Laura Worthington – New Media Marketing Manager
- Renzo Trigoso – Software Developer
- Tyler Zubke – Software Developer
- Nathan Sanders – Web developer
In nominating the site for the award, Glusco wrote:
“WRALTechWire.com is a niche site for technology and innovation news in the Triangle, with an emphasis on the growing startup community and serving the tens of thousands who work at major employers like IBM, Lenovo, QuintilesIMS (now Iqvia) and SAS. The TechWire brand is 15 years old, and the online archive is 50,000 articles deep. Much of that history was hidden behind a paywall, and the 2017 redesign served to set it free.
“Our emphasis in the new design was to create a visually appealing, mobile-first product that would attract a younger audience while honoring TechWire’s brand legacy among the C-suite community. We significantly simplified the look, cutting back on words and adding color and white space.
“First, we moved the site from a proprietary CMS into Word Press, opening it up to a greater pool of contributors and a wider variety of stories and video. This also allowed us to use tagging to surface those years of archival coverage previously lost to the long tail.
“To cater to the ambitious, networking nature of the tech community, we added a calendar of events and a highlights post each week. Those things pair nicely with the quarterly series of TechWire Executive Exchange events — profitable, educational and networking events we sponsor each year.
“We saw immediate growth in pageviews, unique visitors, even story tips and comments on stories. Just as important, we have a vehicle that our sponsors love and are closing partnerships in the five-digit range.”
FROM THE JUDGES
“This is a highly competitive contest that recognizes the best in local media when it comes to digital innovation,” said Nancy Lane, president of the Local Media Association, “There is no other contest like it. The bragging rights are huge for the winners.”
Capitol Broadcasting also won two other honors:
- Best Digital Agency for WRAL Digital Solutions
- Best Digital News Product (large sites) for “The Day Durham Stood Up”
“All were team efforts, proof that our best work happens when we collaborate,” Conway said.
Overall, Graham Media Group received the highest number of awards (9) followed by Swift Communications (6), Tribune Broadcasting (4), Shaw Media (4), GateHouse Media (3), Affect Digital/Victoria Advocate (3), Capitol Broadcasting/WRAL (3) and Pilot Media/The Virginian-Pilot (3). Information about all winners and categories can be found online.