Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year End -

We only have a few more days until the new year and I wanted to wrap up this year with a look back at OurTown over the course of 2011 and our focus on the future!

This year was a rapid year of change for!  We have added many features, many local editors, expanded our reach (to the UK!), had many site changes and so on.  I just want to highlight the major changes, additions, and departures.

New Features:

Over the course of the year we added and changed many features to keep our local editors with the best possible features to help them produce great content.  Below is a short highlight list of some of these changes:

- New "upload" feature which allows our local editors to upload PDF's, PowerPoint's, and any other type of document that would not be considered a news article.

- New "Comment Counter" to help show our local editors and viewers which stories were popular and held a great conversation.

- New "Manage Islands" feature that allowed our local editors to curate their pages faster and easier.

- We changed our video feature from a "YouTube Insert" option to a "in-house" build full video feature that allows our local editors (and viewers who submit video) to upload many different types of video and to properly SEO tag every individual video.

- New "Social Media Bar" which allows our users and local editors to connect their stories and content to many different social media sites including - Facebook / Twitter / and Google+.

- Also, we added a new "Language Converter" which allowed our users to select from many different languages across the world to view our site with!

Site Changes:

Also, during the course of this year we made some major changes to the structure of OurTown and how it operated.  Below is a short highlight list of these changes:

- OurTown expanded its reach and area listings to the United Kingdom!  We have sites now in Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven, and Lewes within East Sussex. We plan on continuing to put our main focus on the expansion of sites within the United States, but will also concentrate on building our presence in the United Kingdom!

- OurTown also went back to its business plan of an 80/20 split of the local ads between the local editors and OurTown Media.  We had talked about many different plans that would help build a true revenue stream (to help sustain a hyper local network, unlike, and we felt that this split would be the easiest and most fair to everyone involved.

- Also, at the end of 2010 we were building a completely new site for OurTown, which took a lot more time than expected and ran into a lot of "road blocks".  We still plan on putting out a new design in the new year and also to continuous work on feature and site changes that will benefit OurTown, the local editors, and the viewers!

People Changes:

I also just wanted to briefly touch on the fact that we have added many new local editors, but also had some departures do to many reasons.  Our goal during 2011 was to figure out the true definition of the person who can run their own OurTown site.  We focused on keeping our good local editors who built and maintained their sites within our guidelines and who also shared the same goals.  As for the rest we slowly deactivated their sites and returned to recruitment to add local editors who would help the site! 

The Future: has come a long way since we put the site live at the end of 2007 and we have learned many things throughout our journey.  This coming year will be no different!  We have much to do and to learn and plan on introducing new changes to the site within the first couple of months in 2012.  Are only hope is that you join us through our adventure in 2012 and we believe that it is going to be a great year!

We hope everyone had a good Holiday and hope that everyone has a great New Year!

Thank you!

From Everyone at !