New season. New site.
And to borrow from one-time Norwich City chairman Robert Chase, “…what could be better than that?”
We’ll get the Oscars-like thank yous over with early; to Neil who kept the old site vaguely together for all-too many years; to Stuart, Mel and the team at Brandex Group here in Norwich for helping us build MFW 3.0 and, of course, to Gary without whose wonderful editorship this would all have slipped beneath the waves many moons ago.
So what’s next? What are we trying to do here?
First and foremost, the aim of this new-look MFW site is to – finally – take us into the Mobile Age.
Flicking through our numbers – the 17,000 monthly visitors, the 79% who return here time and again – a whopping 67% of you now access MFW on your mobile phones.
Hence our pressing need to sharpen up our publishing act and improve your mobile experience.
Get everything to render neatly. To make everything easy to read.
That’s aim No1.
No2 is to make it easier to share your favourite MFW stories across the web – be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever. Now we have a little panel of buttons at the top and bottom of each story to help you.
No more cut and paste. A simple way to ‘socially share’ our content.
Hopefully, the new, mobile-friendly site will better showcase their work – just as it will for the slightly older heads whose own abilities are now coming to the fore.
Its also part of the reason we keep our comments pre-moderated; no-one on MFW gets subject to the same level of online abuse you can find elsewhere. Robust and raucous debate is fine; but we have our own line in the sand respect-wise.
We aim to look after people. Be it writers, readers – or advertisers.
Which brings us neatly to No4 – the biggie.
The return of a simple, ad model to keep Gary and the team in beers and curries every once in a while. Or another breakfast at Bill’s.
Way back when in the days of MFW 1.0 we tried charging people for content; strung up a pay-wall for subscribers.
It didn’t work. Lesson learnt. We’re not the New York Times.
But what we have learnt in the course of the last 11 years is that local advertisers still want a simple and safe route to a local audience.
And they don’t always want to go to California and back to find one; be it via Google or Facebook.
Our ad tech partner Addiply offers a fresh and open alternative; a month or so down the line we will switch it on.
See if we can’t start to find a sustainable living for this site and 000s of others across the country as we all seek answers to the long-term future of local journalism.
One thing we continue to promise is that no-one gets tracked on this site.
We’re not big enough or smart enough to run the cookies that hoover up your individual browsing data and then auction it off to the highest Wall Street bidder.
So any old, brand ad can ‘follow’ you across the web – a sure sign that someone is invading your online privacy for their commercial gain.
What happens on MFW, stays on MFW. To coin a Vegas phrase.
Inevitably we’ll find a bug or two. Bear with us.
After eleven years of doing this, you know both MFW and our ad tech partner Addiply will always be a ‘work in progress’; nothing will ever be 100% perfect; there will always be rough edges to sand.
That’s the nature of the beast.
In the meantime, just sit back, reach for your mobile phone and let Gary and the crew take the strain for another season of fun and games…