EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Providence-based web developer, Creative Circle Media Solutions, has launched a re-designed website for the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. The highly customized site was engineered to better serve the needs of busy newspaper executives by providing a new source of ideas, solutions, resources and information.
The new snpa.org is interactive, useful and practical – and includes new features like front pages and homepages from member newspapers and a section that showcases best practices and ideas. Users can readily contribute content or pose problems to be addressed by experts.
"The new website offers many opportunities for engagement by SNPA members," said Edward VanHorn, executive director of SNPA. He cited the simplicity of submitting ideas to share with other newspaper executives, and the abilities to rate and comment on content.
"We're developing new content sources that SNPA hasn't offered before,” he said. “That is possible because users can now easily upload, search and view content."
The site also features new branding with stronger typography and colors. The branding also stresses SNPA's mission and value with the key words "Connect, Learn, Grow."
In addition to the web site, a new e-newsletter, branding and marketing materials were created by Creative Circle. The Creative Circle team was led by Bill Ostendorf, founder and president, and Lynn Rognsvoog, the firm's lead designer. Creative Circle has redesigned more than 500 publications and websites and has won international awards for several of its rebranding projects. It has a strong reputation for growing readership and audience engagement in print and online.
Creative Circle has produced websites and led branding or publication design projects for several associations, universities, hospitals and businesses in recent years as well. “We have found that our deep knowledge of design, content, usability, engagement and revenue from more than 25 years in the newspaper industry can bring new vitality and ideas to projects in other industries as well,” said Ostendorf.
The website is powered by Creative Circle's custom CMS, mediasiteQ, and features QuickAds, one of its new revenue platforms, which provides the functionality for the new Virtual Trade Show. OpenX, an open-source product, is used to manage display advertising. “Elements of this site, like QuickAds, can add significant flexibility and functionality to any website,” said Ostendorf.
“Many websites feature cluttered home pages that really aren't user-friendly,” said designer Bill Ostendorf. “We wanted SNPA.org to set a new standard for the newspaper industry, with short pages that work great on mobile devices. It also includes dozens of layout options to allow SNPA to best reflect the news of the association. We don’t think websites should be static. All our sites can flex and change layouts, formats or emphasis, typically with a few mouse clicks using our custom CMS.”
Locally, Creative Circle also built and hosts pbn.com along with all or part of the web sites for The Westerly Sun, Reporter Today, the RI Catholic, Warwick Beacon, Providence Media, Nashua Telegraph and RI Press Association. The firm has also redesigned the Providence Business News, The Valley Breeze, The Newport Daily News, The Rhode Island Catholic, The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., and The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass. They've also led projects for Miriam Hospital, Brown University and numerous local businesses.
Ostendorf and his team created unique functionality and programming to implement the new SNPA.org and those customizations are what can help make a website stand out and really engage users. “Having a website today is not enough. In this era of cheap, cookie-cutter sites, businesses and associations need to do something extra to stand out in a very saturated marketplace,” said Ostendorf. “Why should I spend my limited time on your site? That’s an essential strategic decision and the organizations that invest in something special will be rewarded.”
Months of discussions, prototyping, consulting and programming went into producing the new SNPA site. “We hope to help SNPA.org grow and change over the coming months and years,” said Ostendorf. “We know this isn't where the process stops. You have to keep adjusting and adding."
"The process of working with Creative Circle went beyond rebranding the association and designing a website," added VanHorn. "It was also about strategy, workloads and tone. We needed a partner who could help us find that balance between doing everything and doing the most important things well."
While the site was designed for publishers, editors and other newspaper executives, its features are interesting to the casual visitor as well. The state-by-state displays of newspaper front pages and web pages are a fun way to see how different newspapers are covering the news. On one page, you can see how Orlando, Miami, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville and other papers in Florida covered a specific news event in print and online.
Among the other new features of the site:
• Virtual trade show. Designed as a handy resource for newspapers, the SNPA Virtual Trade Show is a showcase of products and services offered by a wide range of quality R&D partners. Industry vendors can monitor their listings to assure that this section of the site is both accurate and up-to-date. Vendor information includes email addresses, website links and product info.
• Ask the expert. Newspaper executives can submit questions they want answered, and SNPA will work with other newspaper executives and R&D partners to find and publish answers on important industry topics.
• My SNPA. Website content can be customized based upon job functions – publisher, editor, ad director, etc. Appropriate links offer quick access to content that is most relevant to readers.
• Interactive calendar. SNPA is building the industry's most complete calendar of events. Industry groups can post information about their programs, conferences, webinars or events – and readers can sort them by state or by date. SNPA's events are highlighted for the convenience of its members.
• Member listings. Listings of member publications (print and digital) now feature state-by-state maps, front pages, homepages, key names and contact information.
• New newsletter. The weekly SNPA newsletter also has a new look and design that complements the website. The format is tighter, more visual and is directly tied to the website and its content. Content from previous newsletters is also archived on the website for the first time and is searchable using keywords.
• Great ideas. The collection of the best ideas – gathered from reader submissions, conferences and roundtables – will help newspaper executives generate new revenue, improve classifieds and content, launch new products and more.
• Share your work. A simple-to-use interface makes it possible for newspaper personnel to share page designs, unique photos, successful niche products, great house ads and other examples of their best work with other newspapers.
• Comments, ratings and profiles. A new feature allows members to comment and rate many areas of content. Members can also create profiles with photos, bios and lists of their contributions. The Profiles feature makes it possible to meet like-minded and helpful people who work in our industry.
About Creative Circle
For nearly 30 years, Creative Circle Media Solutions has been the newspaper industry's most innovative consulting, training, design and software firm. The company has a 28-year history of success and happy clients on three continents. Creative Circle has led the redesign and re-engineering of nearly 500 print publications and has designed and built about 200 media-related websites. The company's team of consultants has led training in 23 countries to help media outlets improve their writing, design, photography, management and branding.
In 2004, Creative Circle launched a software division that has been the source of numerous industry innovations and firsts. Creative Circle was the first media CMS vendor to offer an integrated pay wall, user-contributed content, reverse publishing, hyper-local zoning and flexible page and story templates that better reflect the news.
Today Creative Circle is helping associations, businesses, universities and hospitals benefit from their deep knowledge of readership, usability, design, content, visuals, interactivity and revenue. They have produced books, websites or web tools, publication redesigns, videos, new branding and marketing materials.
The Southern Newspaper Publishers Association is a not-for-profit newspaper industry association based in Atlanta, Ga. Its membership includes more than 500 daily and non-daily newspapers – both print and digital – and nearly 90 research & development partners that supply goods and services to the newspaper industry.
The SNPA Foundation provides professional development programs for newspaper employees. The Foundation's newest venture – Online Media Campus – provides high-quality, low-cost web-based programs that help media professionals develop new job skills without leaving their offices.
For more information, contact:
Edward VanHorn, executive director, SNPA
email or (404) 256-0444
Bill Ostendorf, president and founder, Creative Circle Media Solutions
email or (401) 455-1555