“A Problem Worth Solving?”
Many believe hyperlocal news has failed to live up to its promise. As many local newspapers have shuttered over the past few years, the hope was that internet-based, hyperlocal publications could take their place — as the New York Times predicted back in 2009. So why would I want to take on this problem? Because I believe that if done right, a hyperlocal news publication can succeed. And by offering something different — user generated content, access to news in multiple cities and revenue model that doesn’t only rely on banner ads, I think this product could be a huge success.
I Know I Can Do This Better
While the quality of design and usability has improved with over the years, many still suffer from outdated, cluttered and confusing layout and typography. Besides being a great local news source, I want AltWeekly to deliver elegant, clean and modern design. AltWeekly will also have journalistic integrity. It will not include click-bat “fake” local stories that tie to national celebrities. The AltWeekly community will have a huge influence on its content and tone.
Let’s Clean This Up
When planning out the design of AltWeekly, I researched countless news sites. I originally wanted the design to be more cutting-edge and unique, but after playing around with that approach, I realized that a more straight-forward, traditional layout would work better. I wanted the site to feel familiar and be easy to navigate. And I didn’t want the design to interfere or distract from the content. The design needed to be invisible. I came up with two basic layouts — home page and article page. Everything would be based of these two layouts, thus keeping a visual consistency throughout the site.
“Why Do I Think This Will Work?”
We all know that most people don’t hold the same job for years and years like our parent’s generation. More and more professionals move to multiple cities to find the best career opportunities possible. I’ve lived in four cities: Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and Austin over the past 18 years. And many of us are deeply involved in the city we live in. Whether that’s through your city politics, neighborhood issues, music, theater or art. We develop a great connection to the city we live in. And that doesn’t go away once you move to another city.
AltWeekly allows people to not only keep up on what’s going on in the current city they live in, but also allows them to stay connected to the cities they used to reside. Conversely, AltWeekly is a great resource for a person moving to a new city. Many of us know the feeling of isolation you have when you first move to a new city — with AltWeekly, a new resident can get up to speed quickly on their new home.
One of the biggest challenges in digital media is monetization. It will only get more challenging. Here are some ideas I have to create revenue:
Banner Ads – both local and national ads. Also, tying in the product being advertised with the subject of the story or categories. For example, movie ad in movie articles, music ads in music articles, etc.
Native/Sponsored Ads – 25% more people look at native ads than banner ads
Metered Paywall – 10 or 20 free articles a month before the user has to pay for a subscription
Membership – A monthly fee to be an AltWeekly Member. This could include benefits that non-members don’t have access to. TBD.
Like my other product idea, Arrow, AltWeekly has been a great way for me to learn how to build a product from the ground up. There’s still a lost of work to be done, but I’m really excited about the direction I’m headed with this —and hope to make it a reality soon.
Final Design — Web