MOUNTAIN AREA – After three years and more than 13 million page views, Sierra News Online (SNO) has gotten a makeover. The new template aptly reflects the changes SNO has gone through, from its early inception as a kitchen-table startup to its current incarnation as the go-to place for news in the Yosemite gateway communities and beyond.
After much debate and considerable gnashing of teeth, SNO has now completely migrated an archive of nearly 5,000 stories and 25,000 photographs to a mobile-responsive, well-organized, and user friendly site readers can count on to bring them the news they need, when they want it.
“Having live, local news is critical to the community, and after more than three years in business, we have learned that most people come to SNO from their cell phones or tablets as they go throughout their day,” explains SNO founder, Publisher and Editor, Gina Clugston.
“The new website provides a format that is easy to navigate and fits properly on those mobile devices, while also giving people a desktop site that is more intuitive and easier to navigate.”
The super-fast new website was built to withstand the traffic of a 24/7 news cycle by Jennifer Moss, founder and owner of MossWebWorks. Jennifer has an extensive background in technology, with over 30 years in computer programming and database design. She’s also the founder of the innovative BabyNames.com, a website with millions of visitors every month.
The Chicago native is also a published author, photographer, animal-rescue advocate, and active community member who says she was honored to be chosen as the web developer to redesign the SNO website.
“I’ve been a fan almost since their inception and wanted to create a design that equaled the high quality of the writing and articles,” Jennifer says. “It’s exciting to see all aspects come together, from design to the organization of content, and even the new ads programs! I think SNO will only get bigger and better, as it’s become an integral part of the mountain communities.”
“Jennifer was a joy to work with,” says Gina. “She understood exactly what we wanted, and implemented every one of the many changes we requested as we were able to see the new site and play around with it. She also explained things to us in language we could understand – since I, for one, don’t speak Geek. And she completed the job way ahead of schedule. Though this type of project is always daunting, Jennifer made it seem easy!”
While the website changes – or “migration” – began in early July, it’s only now that all of the details associated with such a massive task have been dispensed with, and the style and performance of SNO are at optimum levels. The new design clearly elevates the previous format to that of a forward-moving, modern, digital news source.
Sierra News Online was started with an emphasis on creating a local watercooler gathering spot where mountain stories are told and locals are recognized for their achievements.
“It has always been the goal of SNO to be a place where people feel welcome to share their stories and photos, become contributors, write about their organizations, get their events on the calendar, advertise their businesses, and truly become an active part of SNO. We really focus on celebrating people who are ‘up to something’ in their communities, and we love telling their stories.”
Redeveloping the website has been a project in the works for some time, and Gina acknowledges the team effort required to pull all aspects of the business together. A major force behind the new look and operation of SNO is Rima Runtzel, Director of Sales and Marketing.
“Rima has been part of the mountain community nearly her whole life,” Gina says of the dynamic entrepreneur who worked at SierraTel for 15 years, and is the founder and owner of digital marketing firm Local Social. “Rima has been instrumental in taking the website to a new level and her creative skills are almost innumerable.”
“I’m really excited about the added value the new site will provide to our advertising partners,” says Rima.
Readers of the new, improved SNO will find some fresh and convenient ways to navigate the site, starting with special sections for headline news, features, community and entertainment, a comprehensive calendar, and the ability to print out articles ad-free.
The re-vamped site also includes a Breaking News notice at the top, which switches to red when there’s a road closure, accident, severe weather warning or any timely, important event occurring in real time.
While much of SNO is new, the essence of the mission hasn’t changed since the website first launched in 2012. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long; we have so many contributors, businesses, and readers to thank for helping us get this far.
The team is always looking for ways to improve the level of service our readers receive, and now there’s a chance to move forward with a fresh new face, while still holding on to the heart of SNO that readers have come to expect, appreciate, and respect.
“We want our readers to have the best experience possible when they come to SNO,” Gina says, simply. “We want it to be fast, easy and fun to be part of this online community.”
It’s the hope of those behind the scenes, myself included, that readers will take some time to visit the landing page and click around the site. I’ve been a reader and reporter at SNO since September of 2012, and I’m overjoyed for people to be able to check out the new website, even as we continue to fine-tune the engine. We want you to take it for a test drive; kick the tires – hey, even honk the horn.
Let us know your thoughts and questions, and what you’d like to see more of. The reason that Sierra News Online exists is because of you.
Here’s to the future, and thank you from SNO.
Stay tuned for more.
– by Kellie Flanagan
Send news to: News@SierraNewsOnline.com
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Submit calendar info to: Calendar@SierraNewsOnline.com
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