What Makes MichiganRadio.org an Award-Winning Site?

Apr 18, 2012

As you can see, Michigan Radio took home armfuls of Michigan Associated Press awards last weekend. And among them, first place for best non-commercial radio website. For the second year in a row, by the way.

Here’s what the judges had to say: “Nice to land directly on a site that shouts news. One-stop shopping for headlines and in depth coverage. Very robust.”

MichiganRadio.org “shouts news” -- I love that and here’s why. Michigan Radio means one thing to its listeners: news. In order for Michigan Radio to truly succeed online, it needs to focus on that one thing that matters and it needs to design its site in a way that recognizes how people use the web.

Michigan Radio was one of the first stations to adopt Core Publisher and embrace the “river of news” concept. But more important than software, Program Director Tamar Charney and News Director Vince Duffy re-aligned the station’s news output, so that it feeds the website in the style, form and frequency throughout the day that’s most appealing to web users.

In fact, the "river" itself makes an important statement about Michigan Radio News: its coverage of news never stops.

Here’s another award: the number of unique visitors to MichiganRadio.org has increased 55% in the year since Michigan Radio launched its new look on Core Publisher. In March, over 62% of visitors saw one or more news stories. Charney on the numbers: "We're proud that our website's audience is growing and the the site is being recognized for its quality. We're really grateful for the tools and teachings of NPR Digital Services that have helped us dramatically improve our online service over the past year and a half."

Good content, combined with good site design, drives sustained audience growth and increased loyalty and engagement. This is more important than ever.

Your website is only one piece of your digital strategy, not the whole thing. So you need to understand your online audience and what they want and what they find useful, so you can decide what elements of your station make the most sense to serve to your audience through the website.

The questions that Tamar, Vince and the rest of their team asked themselves as they developed their content strategy are ones we should ask ourselves: What is it that we do that creates the most value for our listeners? How can we translate that to our website in a way that enhances service for our listeners and introduces our service to a whole new audience of web users? How do we design our website so it truly serves our audience and causes engagement and long-term growth?