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New American Whitewater Website Update

Posted: 01/30/2019
by Evan Stafford

Here at American Whitewater we are rapidly fixing bugs and enhancing the user experience on our newly redesigned website, which we launched late last week. Due to the complexity of the database that backs our National Whitewater Inventory and other aspects of our site, some bugs were expected. We launched our site under a hard deadline based on the outstanding financial support we received for this project from the US Coast Guard, and we appreciate our community’s patience and constructive comments as we hone the new site. 
 
We had a modest budget for this project, but luckily we also had a very talented small programming and design team, and lots of volunteers who stepped up to help get it done. Since the beginning of the AW website, as one of the most comprehensive websites on any topic at the dawn of the world wide web, we’ve relied on volunteer efforts to make the site great. We encourage you to be a part of that history by dropping in on the site and constructively reporting what you find.
 
Before you return feedback you can check here to make sure it’s not an issue we’re already addressing. We’ll keep this article updated over the coming weeks so the community can track our progress. Here are a few of our top priorities: 
 

Gages: We are actively working on several issues related to gages including how (and whether) they are displayed on river pages and gage detail pages, and various issues with links associated with gages going to the wrong destination. These are major issues requiring only minor fixes. Clearing your cache will help things work as we move ahead (and now).   

Internet Explorer: We are working on a fix to make the site work on IE. This is complicated due to IE not being updated/supported by Microsoft in over four years. 

Mobile Apps: We are very close to restoring flow information to the apps

Banner Photos: Site users can upload photos to the banners of river pages, but repositioning is not currently saving. 

Photo Database: While you can upload photos, you currently can't edit them and most caption fields are not displaying in the galleries.

Broken Links: There are some links scattered throughout the site that lead to a “Whoops…” message. We are cleaning these up. 

Aesthetic / User Experience Issues: We continue to hone some of the user experience elements of the site and this work will be ongoing. Some of the priority changes are small, like repositioning banner photos, reducing the size of profile photos, streamlining the menu structures, and compressing the state river lists for mobile devices for easier viewing. Expect ongoing improvements. 

We’ve gotten a few questions about why we chose to redesign our website, which had not seen significant changes in almost 15 years. 
 
Mobile – Over 60% of our users, and more all the time, are using our site on mobile devices. Our old site was not designed to be responsive to mobile devices and was therefore frustrating to use on phones. We wanted the site to work well on the go for lots of reasons, including safety and enjoyability for the public. 
 
Better, Up To Date River Beta – The edit tools for contributing to the old site were very complicated, and we wanted to welcome a new generation of contributors to attract more up to date and accurate river descriptions, photos, alerts, gage recommendations, etc. 
 
Aging Infrastructure – We wanted to create a solid platform of modern code to serve as the foundation for future incremental enhancements. The next phase of our website project will include significant new mapping functionality and will be connected to our app in new and useful ways, including user updating capabilities. 
 
Safer River Time – The primary goal for this initial phase was that we wanted a site with greatly enhanced river safety value.
 
When chose to invest in a redesigned site, we knew it would be a challenge but we sincerely believe that when we get the new site honed it will meet all of these goals and more.    
 
Our whole team wants to thank you for your patience as we enhance the performance of the new site. 
 
Evan Stafford
516 Stover Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Phone: 970-420-5377