Sharpening the EDGE: Phase One

You may notice a few changes around here today. We’re unveiling phase one of our new EDGE platform: a cleaner, simpler editorial section that loads much faster and is entirely redesigned. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to refine it, rolling out new features and functionality as we go.

Editorial’s just the beginning. We’re rebuilding everything, from our paywall to our jobs board to our real estate section to our events calendar, while adding functionality, such as classified ads. There’s even a “YK-Bay” auction-style service in the planning stages.

This is a work in progress, which can’t be emphasized enough: what you see today is by no means its final form. With your help, we want to build a world-class software platform to help other small- and medium-sized publishers transition online and deliver news and information in a way that works for their readers.

It’s a big job, but also the natural next step. Following the launch of our EDGE membership site in the fall of 2014, even we were surprised to have several hundred sign-ups within weeks and new members every day. Our model seemed to be working.

What is this thing?

What is that model? Perhaps it’s worth reminding you, and ourselves, what we’re trying to do editorially with the EDGE site:

EDGE tells stories about where we live, providing Northerners with informed context and insightful analysis of ongoing news, while initiating lively discussions with intelligent opinions. We drive readers to the site by providing first-class journalism they can’t find anywhere else.

We keep them coming back by delivering a nimble mix of content that doesn’t take itself too seriously, that’s entertaining, accessible and smart. We aren’t afraid to tackle tough, controversial issues and provide a platform for views that buck conventional wisdom, but we avoid unnecessary or thoughtless provocation. We don’t shy away from going deep into important topics of the day but understand the value of good lifestyle and service journalism. We also have an eye for the quirky and unusual.

Around here, we sometimes refer to the site as EDGE Labs: that means we know the direction we’re heading, but we’re also big fans of experimentation, finding out what works and what doesn’t, playing out the margins of our mandate.

But while our editorial and other services have been well-received, things haven’t always worked smoothly. For example, if you subscribed to our daily editorial package, you needed a separate email to register and post a job on our jobs board and a third to post a rental. Then there were the infamous login frustrations that affected so many users; frustrations we worked hard to solve, but never fully could. In short, we weren’t delivering an enjoyable experience.

From the ground up

So this fall, after a particularly frustrating login issue that actually appeared unsolvable, we paused our paywall and started building a new EDGE site from the ground up. While we’re very proud of the work done to date, there’s a lot more to do. That’s why we’re asking you to report any bugs or issues you see using the “Report a Bug” button at the bottom of articles. And as we’re still planning to regularly add features, you can email ideas to info@vergecomms.ca and we’ll discuss them during our team meetings over the coming months.

You’ll notice the new site moves from EDGEYK.com to EDGENorth.ca, which reflects a subtle shift towards greater Northwest-Territories-wide coverage. Although we remain committed to covering Yellowknife, we’re also telling stories outside the capital that are of broader interest. As part of that, we’re excited to announce we’ve expanded our editorial staff with writer Meagan Wohlberg, who will continue to be based in Fort Smith. We were big fans of Meagan’s work when she edited the Northern Journal and think she’s a tremendous addition.

The pricing for EDGE memberships remains the same: $59.40/year ($4.95/month) and $7.95/month. We’re also offering a free membership option giving you a third story every month while allowing you to comment on stories. Making you sign in to comment on the site is our way of keeping people accountable, though you’ll still be able to comment on any of our Facebook posts without logging in.

If you’re a fan of the print magazine, fear not: it’s still free and delivered to your Yellowknife doorstep by Canada Post every two months. In fact, we’re putting the finishing touches on the February/March issue right now. As things progress, we’re also planning a static page where all back issues of EDGE YK can be easily found and searched.

It’s a small-but-committed team that brings EDGE to you every day online. If you appreciate what we’re doing, as we re-launch our membership component in the near future, please consider signing up to help us continue offering high-quality journalism across the NWT.

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