Pittsburgh Bloggers is an online directory of blogs in the Pittsburgh region and in the Pittsburgh diaspora.
The group formed in 2004, and Big Big Design president Cynthia Closkey was one of the co-founders. The original site was built in Drupal; it was a huge help in raising awareness of local bloggers and connecting the local community. Even so, limited resources meant the site wasn’t updated much over the next few years. In 2010, the site needed a significant update, so we took over management and got to work.
The major goal of the new site is to make it easy for anyone to search for blogs on a topic, and for bloggers to find other blogs covering topic related to their own. You can see recently-added sites, sites tagged with a given topic, and blogs listed alphabetically. The tag cloud on the home page also gives a quick picture of which topic areas get the most attention from the Pittsburgh blogging community.
We wanted it to be very easy for a blogger to list her blog, and even easier for a site administrator to review new listings, verify they meet the site’s guidelines, and publish them to the site. We designed the workflow to be fluid: New listings arrive in the admins’ email, including links for checking the blog out and then publishing the listing. Using this streamlined workflow reduced publishing time for new listings from 3 minutes to 45 seconds or less — a huge boon for site managers.
Many businesses and organizations want to reach out to bloggers with offers and promotions, so we added a “Blogger Opportunity” feature for submitting offers and announcements. Publishing these blogger opportunities is also super-easy for site managers.
News, new blog alerts, and blogger opportunity announcements all are automatically posted to the Pittsburgh Blogger Twitter account (@pghbloggers), to keep followers informed without requiring additional management time. We added to the sociability of the site by including sharing icons and links for major social networks to all posts, bloggers opportunities, and blog listings.
Making the site easier to update — and therefore fresher and more interesting for visitors — led to a 60% jump in site visits and a 36% increase in page views. More bloggers are listing their sites again, and more people are discovering new blogs each day through Pittsburgh Bloggers.