U-B to roll out new website

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Readers have been asking for a redesigned website and I’m pleased to announce that on Wednesday we will debut the new and improved Union-Bulletin.com.

The new site has a clean, fresh design with easy navigation, a focus on our award-winning photography, regular updates including breaking news and much more.

Perhaps most importantly, it is a big leap into the future for the U-B as Union-Bulletin.com will now be optimized on smartphones and tablets, whose popularity has exploded. Access on all of these devices will be free for subscribers.

The new website will strengthen our position as the Valley’s indispensable local news and information provider. Combined with our stable print audience, it will help us continue to reach more people than ever before.

You may remember from the surveys and focus groups we conducted last year that reader frustration with our somewhat clunky website was one of the primary concerns. Complaints about the site being too cluttered, difficult to find specific topics or stories and not updated frequently enough with breaking news were valid.

The positive changes to the site are significant — our last major website redesign was in 2009. A few highlights include:

-Utilization of social media on the site that will increase reader interaction. An example is readers will now be able to recommend stories and easily share them.

-Lists showing most commented and read stories that will allow readers to stay abreast of what others in the community are focused on.

-Improved classified solutions including navigation, search, photos, mapping capabilities and use by mobile devices.

-Easier classified online order entry system that involves fewer steps and more advertising options.

-Easy to use event calendar with events featured throughout the site.

-Significant reader submitted content such as photos, comments, blogs, topics groups, polls and the ability to provide news tips.

-Additional email newsletters including a morning update and a breaking news text message alert.

-A live-blogging platform that will start with coverage of the New York Store shooting inquest Wednesday.

We have also modified the amount of local content that can be accessed at no charge. Non-subscribing readers can now view five pages of local content per month before they will be required to pay. This means you can easily forward Union-Bulletin.com links to friends and relatives. Those who want to access more than five local content items per month will still be able to do so from any device — free for U-B subscribers and with a slight increase to $9/month charge for online-only subscribers.

If you are one of the thousands of registered users or subscribers to the current site, you will be emailed your username and a temporary password. When you visit the site you will be able to log in and change the password to your preference. We are available at 525-3001 to help walk you through the registration process if you get stuck.

There are numerous U-B employees who contributed to this effort, but I want to single out Online Manager Carlos Virgen, Programmer Hermon Mike and Online Sales Representative Matthew Lohrmann for their incredible efforts.

Check out the new site and tell us what you think. Although the new site will be a change for everyone (we are confident it is a positive one), the thing that will never change is our commitment to providing the Walla Walla Valley with high quality, community-service journalism, regardless of what device you use to access us.

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