Thursday, June 03, 2010
Let's do launch: New Manchester websites
The past few weeks have seen the launch of three long-anticipated sites that all aim to shake up the way Manchester's cultural life is represented online. I have written something for all of them, so I'm not exactly impartial or anything. But I think each has a lot to offer in its own way.
Following the formal lifting of election purdah (such a funny idea, that) first out of the starting gate was Visit Manchester with a bold approach that sets out a new model for city tourism websites. Built by magneticNorth, it's a dramatically different user experience, with continuous scrolling, invisible navigation and an open-door approach to content.
It would be fair to say that it has divided the city's digital folk. For my part, I'm a fan of the site's design. Of course, it has bugs that need to be worked out over time. I really love that they have incorporated so much social media content, and though its nigh-on impossible to ensure that only relevant tweets/photos end up there, VM is to be commended for relinquishing absolute control of what people say about Manchester on their own site. I wrote a little rundown of the city's cheap eats options for VM, and I'm happy that they used other bloggers' writing as well - hope that continues.
Next up was Creative Times, with a re-launch of the regional creative industry news site/print newsletter formerly run by the sadly-departed CIDS. Creative Times has been reborn in online-only format as a joint venture between The White Room consultancy, Cornerhouse and Fudge in Bolton. Edited by former Metro editor Chris Sharatt, the site looks good and has some interesting features (as well as a good amount of original multimedia content.)
It will be interesting to see how exactly it carves out its own identity alongside sites like How-Do and Creative Tourist that weren't around during its last incarnation; participation from the creative community will be key to its success. And if anyone was interested in the Manchester blog aggregator project I first posted about here a while back, you can read a bit more about it in my Creative Thinking column: Are blogs the future for arts coverage? (though I should point out that the aggregator we're working on won't just feature arts blogs, it'll have Manchester blogs on every subject.)
Finally, fresh out today is Go See This, the new what's on website from All About Audiences (them that used to be Arts About Manchester, who took on a new name following their designation as the regional audience development body in the NW). Now, I did quite a bit of work helping Editor Adam Comstive develop the content side of things, so there's no way I can even pretend to judge it in a disinterested way. It's a place where you can find out what's happening in the city's arts and cultural venues, plan outings, book tickets and get involved in a conversation about the arts in Manchester. We have needed something like this for, oh, about as long as I can remember, and I hope that it will prove extremely useful to anyone who wants to know what's happening in Manctown.
Also want to point you in the direction of the excellent Manchester Scenewipe, a smorgasboard of video from Manchester-based bands, and This is The Now, also from Visit Manchester but focusing solely on promoting live music in the city. It looks very nice indeed, but hope that content is going to keep getting updated as most of the stuff on the mainpage happened back in May.