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Sneak Preview: New American Website Design Coming in 2019

Posted: 12/10/2018
by Evan Stafford

The online National Whitewater Inventory (NWI) is one of American Whitewater’s most valuable assets, in terms of fulfilling our stewardship goals, and in encouraging the safe enjoyment of our nation’s rivers. We are constantly working to enhance the river beta our army of volunteers provides in the inventory, and the ways that beta is shared and received. Nearly two years ago, American Whitewater was awarded a grant from the United States Coast Guard to update our National Whitewater Inventory and accident database, and to incorporate a responsive design and improved user interface into our river pages. We used this grant as the basis for making design and functional upgrades across our website, the first phase of which will be released at the tail-end of December 2018.  
We are proud to say that soon you’ll be seeing what amounts to a fairly complete redesign of our nation wide database containing over 5,500 river segments, a much more mobile friendly website experience, and an easy to use system that encourages user input. Make yours and others time on the river safer by contributing useful comments and alerts on river conditions, providing river segment descriptions, individual rapid descriptions, flow information, photos and videos. You can even be the banner on the landing page of your favorite river if you think you’ve got a worthy image that displays what that river is all about! 
Our intention is to entice you to contribute in meaningful ways for the benefit of paddlers, and also for the benefit of our rivers. We often use the NWI to reference river segments and show their recreation value in our stewardship work, like when we’re working to protect rivers through Wild and Scenic designation, or restoring instream flows to rivers through hydroelectric project relicensing. 
As with any new website, we expect there to be issues that develop and need to be worked out. When the site is first released we will have our team at the ready to make sure there’s a smooth transition. We don’t anticipate major site-wide use interruptions, but there may be times when some site functionality, or even the entire site is comprised, and we appreciate your patience as we work to correct any technical difficulties we encounter. Our web team is a group of dedicated volunteers and underpaid paddlers doing it for the love. The hard work they’ve put into this project have improved an invaluable asset to the river community. We can not thank them enough. We appreciate your feedback concerning the new site and encourage you to test out all of the parts you’re used to using, and to also see if you can find a place to test our user interface and contribute something of value.  
We hope you enjoy some paddling in early 2019, and we hope that our new range of apps and our responsive new website make it easier for you to get on the river safely. Sometime in 2020 we’ll likely release phase II of this project which will update AW’s online safety content, improve our NWI map layer, and create a user interface for AW app users to crowd source real-time river information. We look forward to sharing these site updates with you, seeing your great new contributions, and to hearing your thoughts and comments in the new year!