No Depression Is Getting a Facelift: A Note About What’s Around the Bend
Ever since we announced that No Depression had been acquired by FreshGrass back in March, we’ve heard from many of you with questions, concerns, and ideas about the future of this website and the community that gathers here. We created a forum topic at that time so we could organize these comments and refer to them frequently, which we have done as we’ve developed plans to move off the Ning platform and update the experience for ND readers and users.
Now, thanks to the awesome dedication and teamwork from our recently expanded staff, we’re excited to report this development phase is almost complete. The new ND is just about ready to launch. When it does, you’ll notice a few things have changed, while most things have remained essentially the same – albeit more organized and intuitive. So, I thought I’d write this post to explain what you can expect from the new site. We hope that you’ll find it to be a good marriage between what you grew to love during ND’s print years, and the incredible community you’ve nurtured in the past five years.
Easier to Use
Perhaps most importantly, we’ve done our best to make sure that it’s faster and easier for you to contribute all the great content you bring to this site. Content has been organized into categories – Album Reviews, Live Reviews, Interviews, Podcasts, and Articles (the catchall category for anything that doesn’t fit neatly into the other categories, be they Gillian Turnbull’s ruminations on musical trends or Easy Ed’s insights into the evolution of the industry). On the contributor side, you’ll be able to access your own image library so you’re not always looking for photos to include. It’ll be easier for you to tag your posts, add footnotes, create headers, and so on. Images will be larger in all posts, with the option to have a photo span half the article or clear across the entire field. (The same will be true of embedded videos.)
Speaking of photos, you can shoot them on your phone or tablet, at a show or elsewhere, and upload them directly to your photo library via the new expanded mobile access. We are very excited about the possibilities for ND mobile and there will be more ahead on that front over time, but this first phase of updates starts with a more intuitive mobile experience.
Homepage and Navigation Updates
Readers and other casual users will likely appreciate a less busy homepage, with all contributions organized into the content types I mentioned above. Click on Album Reviews, for example, and you’ll get a digest of all the album reviews ever added by the ND Community. The same will be true of all other categories. Podcasts will have their own section on the site, and their own featured place on the homepage as well. We hope this will encourage more podcasters to share for the community’s listening pleasure. You’ll be able to easily browse what the community is up to by clicking on “Community,” where you’ll find forum discussions, groups, and a chronological digest of all blog posts from the community.
New Release Listing
We’ve heard from many of you that you’d like to see the return of a listing of new and upcoming releases, which was so beloved in the print days. So, we’ve hired Bill Frater, whom you may recognize as the force behind Americana Boogie and Freight Train Boogie posts, to manage the new and upcoming release section. It’s easy to find. Just click on “New Releases” on the new site. If you have or know of an upcoming release you think should be listed by ND, you’ll be able to submit it for listing, by contacting the New Releases Editor. We will highlight notable new and upcoming releases the same way we feature other posts on the homepage.
Perhaps the biggest change you’ll notice is a section at the front and center where three articles are given very prominent placement. This is the Cover Story section. It’s been six years since ND was able to hire writers to provide the kind of high-quality edited and fact-checked articles that set ND apart in print. We are thrilled to say that we’re bringing long features back to the fold. Cover stories will publish every other week, written by professional music journalists (some of whom have been contributing reviews and Q&As to the community for some time, others who contributed to the magazine, and others whom we’ll be actively recruiting). These cover stories, assigned and edited by ND Editor Kim Ruehl and copyedited and fact-checked by resident copy editor Stacy Chandler, will run at about 5,000-7,000 words apiece. We want you to take the time and read the incredible work these writers will be contributing. To keep the space fresh, we’ll round it out with high-quality pieces from the community and some shorter articles written by some of the finest artists in the Americana and roots music realm. You’ve already seen features written by Chris Funk (Black Prairie, the Decemberists), Casey Neill, Jake Schepps, and Jim Lauderdale. We hope those contributions have given you an idea about the kind of artist-written features you can come to expect from us.
There are other, smaller updates, too – your profile page will be a little cleaner and better organized, and all comments on blogs and forums are threaded. There are a couple of other bells and whistles, too, but those will be more fun for you to discover yourself. And, what’s more, this is only phase one. Moving off Ning allows our development and design team to work daily to make sure everything works the way it’s supposed to, that we hear and apply your feedback as we go, and that issues can be tackled in a timelier manner. We look forward to some of the other features we plan to add, but want to be sure we get phase one right first.
Thanks again to our awesome new team – Kim Ruehl (Editor), Shelley Champine (Community Manager), Stacy Chandler (Assistant Community Manager/Copy Editor), Sonja Nelson (Advertising), and our development/design team Dave Champine, Dale Geist, and Ivan Sifrim. Thanks also to all who helped us test before going live – Easy Ed, Hal Bogerd, Kelly McCartney, Hyperbolium, Jack, and Bill Frater. We hope you’ll join us for this leap into another exciting phase for ND. Please don’t hesitate to email any concerns, questions, or issues to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
— Chris and the whole ND team