It's been quite a week here at OnMilwaukee.com. On Tuesday, we launched a total redesign of the site, including a complete overhaul of our event calendar. Thursday was our annual April Fools edition, typically the busiest day of the year. And, stretching back 10 days or so, we just launched the OnMilwaukee.com iPhone and Android apps. Add all of this up and hopefully you'll understand why I haven't been blogging much lately -- we've all been a little preoccupied.
Tuesday's redesign was the first major makeover since 2007. We don't take these endeavors lightly, either, as it's always our goal to create a design that will stand the test of time. But as social media evolves -- and browsers and HTML standards and readers do, too -- we knew it was time, and we began working on this latest version in earnest in January.
Three months is actually a rather tight time period for a design change of this magnitude, especially considering none of us has abandoned our other regularly-scheduled duties. And that's why the site didn't really launch 100 percent complete. Over the coming days and weeks, we'll pound out the remaining bugs (and we're aware of them all) and launch a few more enhancements.
Stylistically, the new OnMilwaukee.com provides a more cohesive user experience and better monetizes our bread and butter, display ads. Functionally, we've built "OnMilwaukee.com Live," a Twitter-powered widget that aggregates and displays all of our dynamic content in an easy-to-digest format. Externally, the changes aren't radical -- it was our goal to provide something that is easy to use and intuitive -- just faster, cooler and better.
We also rebuilt our event calendar from scratch, adding new features and streamlining the look and feel. Yes, we, too, think it was crazy to launch the event calendar and the redesign on the same day. But we didn't have much choice.
By hook or by crook, we needed to be up and running by April 1, which is always the most busy day of the year. Since as early as 2000, we've used April Fool's Day to publish a complete parody edition. It's always a fun venue -- and not to be taken seriously -- and introduces us to new readers and welcomes back old ones. With the new design, though, we had to write more than 45 articles that will live on OnMilwaukee.com for a mere 24 hours then disappear for good. It's really a labor of love.
Fortunately, we really only received one furious e-mail this year -- which still seems like a lot considering how blatantly fake these articles are. And based on both the site traffic and comments from the Twitterverse, most people appreciated our effort. I hope you did, too.
Finally, we recently unveiled free iPhone and Android apps, and they're catching on quickly. This has really been one of the busiest OnMilwaukee.com springs in recent memory, and considering next Wednesday is my 12th anniversary of self-employment (and the official beginning of OnMilwaukee.com), I'm so proud that we all still have the enthusiasm to crank like this every now and then.
Our entire staff has put in long hours these last few weeks, but it shows. We're well beyond start-up mode by now, but we're still a lean, mean and agile company, and one that I'm always proud to attach my name to. On the back of our business cards, it reads "Making new media great media. Moving Milwaukee forward." I still believe this to be true.
So, as I always say, the best is yet to come -- and I'll say it again. We're constantly evolving and reinventing ourselves here at OnMilwaukee.com, and we continue to appreciate your support, your readership and your loyalty. 2010 is off to a great start for us, and with these latest improvements, we're poised to have a truly stellar year.
Thanks, we couldn't do it without you.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.