Being recognized by press associations has been a common occurrence as of late for Taos News in Taos, N.M.
After all, the small weekly newspaper, with a circulation of 10,845, has received the Best Weekly Newspaper in the United States award given out by the National Newspaper Association for two years in a row. They were also named the best weekly in New Mexico for this year.
Their Web site, on the other hand, has not seen nearly as much success as their print product has in the past. However, a redesign changed that.
“Our old site was a mixed-up mess,” explained Ray Seale, production, technology & Web director for Taos News. “Our new site, using the TownNews.com back-end and support team, has given a vibrant new life to www.taosnews.com. This put us back on the Web map in New Mexico.”
With their redesigned site, Taos News was recognized by the New Mexico Press Association with a second place finish in the Web site category. Seale believes this award is a great first step for the future of their Web site.
“(The award) means most that it is a confirmation that we’re on the right track . . . We want to be able to deliver our content in a clean, quick, relevant manner. The Web site category is judged as a whole, as there are no categories based on circulation or size. This award means we beat a lot of dailies and larger papers at the Web game!” said Seale.
The Taos News Web site features many great products, many of which allow readers to interact with others. Seale feels the interactive features of the Web site are why it receives so much traffic on a daily basis.
“The best features are the story comments (Simpleblog) and the Media Center (videos and photo galleries). Both of these features help us engage the community in a real and personal way. Comments allow discussion on the variety of topics reported on and the Media Center allows us to bring sight and sound to stories and events,” explained Seale.
Readers from all across the country read the Taos News Web site on a daily basis, according to Seale. He states the majority of the feedback from readers has been positive, as well as tracking impressive stats to back up that feedback.
“The feedback has been fantastic! In my years of designing Web sites, it’s a rarity to get such enthusiastic responses about a Web site . . . In our case I received thank you e-mails about how readers loved the new site. There was also the bottom line. Our stats showed thousands more people were not only visiting our site but coming back,” said Seale.
Seale also attributes the success of the Taos News Web site to the service that TownNews.com provides.
Seale states, “TownNews.com has been pro all the way . . . none have come close to the level of service and value that the team at TownNews.com continues to offer us. The response is quick, the technology solid, and they know the meaning of customer service . . . TownNews.com makes us look great and deliver quality content in a great way!”
So what are the future plans for Seale and the rest of the staff members at Taos News?
“The next year is all about expanding the Media Center,” said Seale. “We want to bring higher quality and quantity of video and imagery (as) Taos is an art community . . . The Media Center allows us to show (readers who reside outside of Taos) the sights and sounds of things happening here. It keeps them feeling connected to a community they are highly invested in.”
With several plans in place for the future, the likelihood of Taos News continuing to receive awards for their Web site seems fairly high.