Hello NorthEndWaterfront.com Readers!
It is after Memorial Day and that means time for summer in the North End! Here is a summer 2012 update, including new site updates.
The 2012 North End Feast Schedule is now posted. This weekend brings the first religious procession of the summer festival season, with the procession of Santa Maria Di Anzano on Sunday, June 3, 2012, 2pm starting at Saint Leonard Church. The feast schedule is one of our most popular reference pages (at least according to Google). If you are part of a society and want something updated on the schedule or posted separately (i.e., feast flyers), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Feast Schedule is always accessible under the Visitor’s Guide menu near the top of the website.
New to the site is the Neighborhood Groups reference page. We gathered information for the North End / Waterfront councils, associations, friends groups, non-profits and news organizations onto one page. The Neighborhood Groups page is also available from the Living Here menu near the top of the website. If you see something that should be added or changed, please let us know.
Another new reference page covers all the Tours in the neighborhood. A tours listing has been a frequent request from residents, visitors and area businesses. This page includes tours of all types: food, walking, bike, boat … and yes, even segway tours. The new tours page can be accessed from the Visitor’s Guide menu at the top. As always, if you see something that should be added or changed, please let us know.
The aforementioned three pages are new, but I hope you will take a look at all the reference pages and listings under the Living Here and Visitor’s Guide menus at the top of the website. These are regularly updated and I hope you find them useful.
On the website design front, I am always tweaking the site. My goal is to achieve the best mix of content presentation and website performance while supporting the various distribution outlets, including the social networks and e-newsletter. I won’t bore you with the dozens of minor changes, but here are a few that you will immediately notice:
Faster page loading – By adding some back-end caching and removing slow-loading items, the website performance is substantially quicker.
Removing the front page image slider – After much internal debate, I decided that the pretty, but huge, slider images on the front page were not worth bogging down the site. As an amateur photographer, I love big photos but the performance drag was not worth having the slider. Don’t fret – you will still get all the big photo and video galleries in the individual posts, just without the front page slider.
Expanded Front Page News Grid – By removing the slider and the sidebar widgets, the news grid now features three columns of articles expanding the headline posts on the front page. This should allow articles to persist longer on the front page. I think it also gives the site more of a crisp, clean layout.
New Footer Design – Many of the links and features previously shown in the sidebar are now minimized in the footer section.
Expanded Front Page Category Filters – By expanding the news grid, I added more category filters that will allow for easier surfing of topics without having to reload the page each time. You can find these category filters under the “Recent News” heading.
Mobile is Huge – The website stats show that nearly half of NorthEndWaterfront.com readers are accessing the site through a mobile phone or tablet device. Yes, the world has changed. These design changes and faster page loading should help mobile and tablet users. The site looks great on an iPad, and if you are on an iPhone, Android or Blackberry device, you should see an automated mobile version for easy reading. (The mobile version can also be turned off, at the bottom of the page on your smartphone.)
I continue to be amazed at the increasing traffic to the site. The new comment system using real-names directly on the site or through Facebook has resulted in more comments and a better discussion. There also has been a steady increase in e-newsletter subscribers. Don’t forget, there is now a weekly e-newsletter option too. (More information on the e-newsletters). Lastly, I am always playing with new plug-ins, some that work well and others that do not. You’ll notice the top “hello” bar, a new “sexy sharebar” at the end of each post and a related posts plug-in that magically appears when you reach the end an article … love ’em or hate ’em, let me know in the comments.
I am especially thankful for all the contributors and groups that send in their information to be posted on NorthEndWaterfront.com. This has greatly expanded the breadth of content and made the site more interesting and relevant. As always, I welcome and encourage content submissions at any time via email at email@example.com or through the Submit a Post page.
For my part, NorthEndWaterfront.com remains a part-time, unpaid hobby, but obviously I love doing it. Feel free to share your feedback in the comments section or via the contact form. I truly appreciate your support and interest.
Matt Conti, Editor