Why we built the new dosavannah.com and Do mobile app

12 minute read

After launching the expanded standalone print edition of Do, our weekly arts-and-entertainment section for Savannah Morning News, back in March, we had a feeling the new physical product would soon outgrow its current digital home at savannahnow.com/do. We just didn't know how soon that day would come.

So, after only three hectic months of strategy meetings, planning sessions, company proposals, product development, site design and end-user implementation, we're happy to announce the launch of our new Do website at dosavannah.com, as well as an accompanying interactive mobile Do app for iOS and Android devices.

What's so great about the new Do products, you ask? Well, a few things:

  • Mobile/tablet-friendly HTML5 design - As news consumers continue to shift to mobile and tablet devices, it's becoming more and more important for publishers to offer a consistent display and user experience across all platforms. This is even more of an imperative for much of our Do audience, who tend to skew younger and more mobile than the average user. Go ahead, load up dosavannah.com and resize your browser. Pretty cool, huh? (hint: it reads quite nicely on my iPad).
  • Sponsored content  - The implementation of sponsored posts on the site allows us to integrate advertising in a way that doesn't diminish the user experience, while also creating more value for advertisers.
  • Reflects the growing importance of music, arts, food, community events and entertainment in our market - As Savannah continues to become a regional, if not national, mecca for arts and culture, the new Do digital products allow us to highlight those aspects of the community more than we would be able to do on savannahnow.com alone. There's only so much screen real-estate on a single website at any given point in time, and usage patterns continue to show that most users visit a site, scroll through the articles at the top of the page, then go about their day or navigate to a new site. Since our primary duty as a news organization is to inform the public of matters relevant to their day-to-day lives, it's easy for daily traffic updates, weather alerts or longer investigative pieces to receive higher editorial priority online than content that highlight's our city's unique cultural experience. That's why it deserves its own platform through dosavannah.com
  • Gives users a free tool to discover content that helps connect them with the community - One of the biggest reasons we also launched a separate native Do app to accompany the site is so that users can always have in their pocket a list of what's going on around town or which new restaurant to try out for dinner, even when they don't have cell reception. It also provides an added level of interactivity, including geolocation, restaurant reservation booking, multimedia streams, photo-uploads and check-ins from nearby users. Sure, you could probably also get a lot of that functionality from Yelp (which is, by the way, integrated into the Do app for you already), but we believe the added value of having those features alongside our editorial content and local deals enhances the experience for the end user. You can find tips from a fellow user about what to order at a new restaurant, and within the same listing also find a link to "Eat It and Like It" columnist Jesse Blanco's take on the matter.
  • Social integration/authentification - The new Do products integrate with the social web on a consistent and deep level, befitting of the growing role those platforms play in our users' everyday lives. Rather than having to remember yet another password, you can login to the app via Facebook or Twitter, and instantly authenticate your identity on the website through Facebook. This not only simplifies the process of interaction, but helps weed out the noise of spam and troll commenters.

And all that's only just the beginning of what our new platforms can offer.


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