The end of our journey: A summary of our findings and recommendations for revamping the Chicago Reporter’s digital strategy
After weeks of hard work and thorough research, our quest to improve the Chicago Reporter’s digital strategy concludes this week. We have conducted audience research, redesigned the Reporter’s website through wireframing and usability testing, and formulated new methods of data visualization that we believe will attract many more readers to the publication’s investigative coverage of race and poverty.
What did we find out from our research? Here are some of our key findings (which you can investigate in full here):
- The Reporter currently has a practically non-existent online audience. Most readers arrive through search engines and leave after one page view, never returning to the site.
- The Reporter’s blog hosted on ChicagoNow provides the only frequently updated content from the publication, but it’s not bringing traffic to the Reporter’s site. In fact, it’s sending people away through the blog links on the Reporter’s homepage.
- The Reporter website content is organized based on the print product, a format that doesn’t make much sense for readers on the Web who might not be familiar with the magazine.
To address these issues, we came up with a set of recommended practices that we feel will attract more people to the Reporter online and open up new pathways for generating revenue.
First of all, we gave the Reporter a new look. We redesigned and reorganized the site in a way that we feel is more reader-friendly based on our audience research and usability testing. We built functional versions of the homepage, article pages, topic section pages and blog pages in Drupal. We created wireframes for the rest of the pages that the Reporter can implement easily if they hire a web producer as we’ve suggested.
Other big changes that we recommend include relocating the Reporter’s blog to the actual publication website and ending the partnership with ChicagoNow. The publication could also expand its digital audience by making better use of its Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as improving its email newsletter.
We’ve mentioned Disqus on this blog before. We’ve reached the conclusion that this commenting plugin—which would allow easier moderation—is another key element when it comes to strengthening the Reporter’s digital presence.
And, perhaps the most impressive component of our re-imagining of the Reporter online is our plan for interactive data visualization. Feel free to explore the Disparity Map our data team produced.
You can read about our work and suggestions for the Reporter in more detail in our final report (link to report). Don’t forget about the white paper we compiled focusing on the local watchdog non-profit industry.
Our project is coming to an end, but we hope that the Reporter’s quest for digital improvement is just beginning. With our recommendations to help them, they can bring their important investigative work to the attention of many more people in Chicago and beyond.
We would also like to thank everyone who helped make this project possible (outside of our fantastic team). Here they are!
CHICAGO REPORTER & COMMUNITY RENEWAL SOCIETY
Maria Ines Zamudio
We’d also like to thank…