The Debut of The New insideSTL.com

Tim McKernan, Mon, 19 May 2008 05:00:00 GMT

Welcome To insideSTL.com 2.0

The best hire insideSTL.com ever made actually wasn’t made by insideSTL.com.

a couple of years ago, on the morning grind, we had an audition for a new entertainment reporter. after a number of lasses came into studio, martin kilcoyne, jimmy "the cat" hayes, and myself agreed that jen "chasey lain" pickett was the best. amazingly *, management didn’t think so.

But, fortunately, Martin, The Cat, and myself got what we wanted, and Jen Pickett was the new entertainment reporter on the show.

Now, how does this tie into insideSTL.com and all of the changes you see today?

If Martin, The Cat, and myself wouldn’t have gotten what we felt was right in the hiring of Jen Pickett, I would have never met Tim Pickett.

And, it’s because of Tim Pickett and all of his hard work that you see a new and improved insideSTL.com today.

We hired Tim full time in January of this year to lead our transition from the original insideSTL.com website to the new insideSTL.com, which makes its debut today. I can’t convey how lucky insideSTL.com is to have him as part of our staff.

While the company has grown in its two-and-a-half years of existence, and we now have an office, it’s important to point out that each day, Monday through Friday, there are a total of just five people at the new office: me, my father (sales manager), Producer Joe (sales), Michael Hurst (sales), and Tim Pickett (who does everything).

So, while many companies have a large number of people working on something as important as a redesign for their website, we had one.

that is, until tim’s brother, ryan pickett, aka "big grease," came along as an intern and began working with tim to help build this new site.

Without Tim Pickett and Ryan Pickett, none of this would have been possible…and that’s why I say without Chasey getting the job as entertainment reporter, this new website wouldn’t have been possible.

I can’t possibly convey my gratuity to Tim and Ryan for not only their hard work, but also for putting up with me during this transition.

Why Did We Make The Change To A New Website?

Some of you may wonder why we "had to" build a new website. Here’s the reasoning:

First off, this has become a business. It wasn’t started to be a business. But, it is one now. When we started the site, I wanted everything to be as "user friendly" as possible…meaning that our users wouldn’t have to register to access our content.

With the exception of the message board, no one had to register in order to access content until January 2007 rolled around and the Girls Next Door contest began. In order to vote for the GND Contest, users were asked to answer a handful of questions…but that log-in to vote for GND was a separate log-in from the message board one.

in other words, it was a clusterfuck.

That needed to be corrected, and we needed to begin to collect data on our users. While I’m pretty confident that most of our users are in their 20’s and 30’s and live in the St. Louis area…I don’t have as much data as I should to be able to provide information to our advertisers. And, many of these potential clients want information that, quite frankly, we didn’t have. It was easy to get, but with the way the old site was set up, we couldn’t do it.

As a business and no longer a hobby, we had to make a change.

Therefore, we needed to build a new site to make that change.

Users can now register one time—and only one time—to be able to post on the message board, post comments at the end of all of the columns (a new feature which I’m looking forward to seeing people use…and rip my ass), vote for the Girls Next Door contest, and register for our contests. Our first contest is a weekend at Wrigley Field for the Cardinals and Cubs series in August. Airfare, hotel, and tickets will be provided for two nights and two games by insideSTL.com.

And, registration will be simple. It should take no longer than 30 seconds. We will ask a few questions (literally, no more than 5) and get your information for our advertisers, and you’ll have access to do everything on the site.

That change had to happen…and quite honestly, it’s my fault that it took this long to get it accomplished.

The second reason we needed to change the site is because it was time to "clean it up." By clean it up, I mean the homepage had just gotten a little too busy. My analogy for the homepage was that it was like driving down the strip in Las Vegas at night: lots of shit flashing at you in a black background.

We needed to improve the navigation. We needed to improve the way the site appeared. And, we needed to increase the size of our images (ie, one big ad banner on the right side (as opposed to a bunch of them), STL Nightlife images, and Girls Next Door images).

The navigation functionality has been drastically improved with the left-side black bars…taking you to any section of the site you’d like to go to withone simple click.

You’ll notice a new section in the left-side navigation boxes. It’s the Events Calendar.

this is where insidestl.com  (and you the user) will be able to submit upcoming area events for the purpose of promotion…and where, once again, you the user will be able to go to find out what’s going on around st. louis. just email us at events@insidestl.com to have your event put in our events calendar.

In STL Nightlife, you’ll notice a new function to view the pictures. It’s more of a slideshow set-up, and while some changes are still to be made, it allows you to go through the pictures at your own pace…and you can slow it down or speed it up.

Here’s the bottom line: I realize it looks different, and I realize it sucks to have to find your way through the changes. But, I really believe this new site will lay the foundation for insideSTL.com to do many of the things we’ve envisioned we’re capable of doing (video, more audio, bigger promotions, etc).

This is a day that all of us in the office have had circled for months…and quite honestly, dreading. But, it had to be done. And, now being able to take a step back, I’m happy we did it.

But, this is the "people’s website," and I really want your feedback on the new site. We had focus groups come down to our offices last week, and we got great input from all of those people. We’d love to get your feedback now that you’ve had a chance to take a look.

Now, you have two ways to leave feedback. You can post comments below (once you’re registered), or you can email me at tmckernan@insidestl.com with your feedback…or any questions or comments.

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