DesertNet Building New AAN Web Site

More professional-looking, interactive site planned.

AAN has hired Tucson-based DesertNet to redesign the association’s website, making it more powerful and user-friendly than the current site, AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel announced today.

The goal of the redesign is to enhance the functionality of the current site while making it more attractive and dynamic, he says.

“The site we have now has a powerful database, and it provides us with the ability to update content inexpensively, but some of the functionality is hidden under the clunky interface,” Karpel says.

When the new site is launched in July, AAN will begin providing a weekly digest of alternative-newspaper industry news rather than simply offering hypertext links to stories. The digest will merge news from a wide range of sources, including AAN News, member papers and non-AAN media. In addition, the digest will be used to highlight the important stories covered locally by AAN papers.

The new Web site will also substantially enhance the member directory pages, providing space for press releases, help wanted ads and an index of Alternative Newsweekly Award winners, as well as an expanded staff directory.

A robust database will create rich connections between all of this information and will provide users with a powerful means to access information about AAN papers.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this redesign is the total dynamic integration,” says Wil Gerken, DesertNet’s chief technology officer. “By using the latest in Dispatch technology, we’re able to have news digests, member profiles, help wanted ads, press releases, dynamic graphing, editorial awards, mailing lists, and more, all working together as one. It’s been an exciting and rewarding project, to say the least.”

The site is designed for heavy use. “It will have a more professional look than our current website, but it will still put an emphasis on quick access to information rather than eye candy,” Karpel says. “We promise: No Shockwave or Java.”

In other DesertNet news, the company has cancelled the panel discussion on ways to make money from the Internet, which had been scheduled for July 11, the first day of the AAN Annual Convention in New Orleans. Only two papers submitted entries in the DesertNet contest that was designed to flush out the money-making ideas.

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