MDDC’s New Website Trades ‘Clunky’ For ‘Scrappy’

You can tell a lot about a newspaper trade association by its website.

That’s a good reason why a new online hub is in place for the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association.

“We needed a refreshed look that reflects our scrappy, grassroots nature and showcases the important work our members do,” said Rebecca Snyder, executive director of MDDC. “Since our staff is very limited, we needed a site that requires minimal upkeep and had the ability to post quickly and easily.”

Snyder said the former website existed well before she arrived at MDDC in 2015, “so it was time for a change.” The website also was clunky and looked homemade, “which it was!”

“It was not intuitive to post content or pictures,” she said. “In these days, our association essentially lives virtually on our website — it is like our office — and our space looked cobbled together and did not represent the vibrant, influential and committed organization that we know we are.”

Executive Director Rebecca Snyder

The new website has quick links to “About Us,” “News & Events,” “Advocacy” (public notices, Sunshine Week and FOIA), and “Expanded Connections” (information about awards, contests, becoming a member, and internships).

The redesign also followed MDDC’s change in vendors for its public notice website.

“We moved to Column for that service in February and so migrated away from Expression Engine, which was the platform for our website, which houses our public notice site, and our site, which is the anchor for our Association,” Snyder wrote in an email. “We needed a simpler, more modern site that was easy to administer. Over time, our site had gotten too complex and ponderous, and it didn’t reflect some of our cool projects.”

Snyder singled out three member benefits now highlighted:

MDDC is an example of an Association that pushes out news items and information via a weekly newsletter, a best practice that is another indication of how communications to members is changing. “I found we were using our Weekly Update — formerly our Friday Planner — as a defacto website, posting relevant news content and events there instead of the website,” Snyder acknowledged. A newsletter signup box is prominent on the new site.

MDDC’s hiring of a website designer had a dual, if not higher purpose. In addition to an updated design, Snyder said, the selection was “part of a larger effort focused on racial equity in news media.”

“We also wanted a designer who is Black, and were delighted to work with Michelle Whitaker from MCW Creative,” who was referred by Common Cause Maryland for grassroots advocacy work, Snyder said.

What’s ahead?

“We still need to load some more content, primarily in the advocacy sections and get our digital advertising up on the site,” Snyder said. “But we are looking forward to more accurately representing our work and activities to the larger public.”

–Tom Silvestri

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