Exciting times here at WBUR. Recent visits from NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and Ombudsman Alicia Shepard have provided much food for thought, especially in terms of the big picture. As an intern, I tend to work on the very small: a section of a section of wbur.org, itself a part of the larger NPR and PRI web experience. I am often crossing t’s and dotting i’s. Such tasks are of course important, but it’s rare that in the course of completing them I find myself contemplating “NPR-ness,” an idea that Schiller has been emphasizing in her recent talks at member stations and media conferences.
When Schiller speaks of NPR-ness, she is referring to the fact that NPR listeners are incredibly attached and devoted, on both an intellectual and an emotional level, to the style and content of NPR. She pointed out that this is different from the connection that people have to, say, Facebook: when users say they love that site, what they mean is that they love the social network. What people love about NPR is the product.
Schiller’s talk has web folks pondering NPR-ness and WBUR-ness as they plan the new wbur.org. That’s right—a brand new site is set to launch sometime this summer. We have a “Relaunch Center,” but right now it’s mostly just an empty conference room with a new sign. We need to fill it with ideas. So far I’ve put forth these suggestions: make it cleaner, like WBEZ’s site, and banish Verdana forever.
But what do you want out of the new wbur.org? What is it currently lacking? How can it better reflect and build upon the content you hear on the radio? What other sites do you think are particularly well built and run? Leave your comments, and I promise they’ll make their way to that conference room.