Gunkholing: Cape Cod LIFE launching new website, online general store
I don’t remember a time when I have not been very appreciative of good writing and great photography. Before starting Cape Cod LIFE 38 years ago, I enjoyed showing friends and family colorful slides of this area. Then I thought, if I could earn a living sharing with folks how much I love the Cape and Islands, maybe I wouldn’t have to get a real job. In 1979 I had no computers, no cell phone, and no Internet. In fact, I remember resisting the introduction of voicemail; I found it too impersonal.
In the early 1980s, we increased the frequency of Cape Cod LIFE from quarterly to bi-monthly. A little later in the 80s, we introduced our colorful Seascapes Wall Calendar as part of our subscription package. In the 1990s, we began our Annual Photo Contest. Participation grows every year: this year we received close to 4,000 photos. Between 1996 and 1998, we introduced two new publications: Cape Cod HOME and Cape Cod ART. By 1999, we were one of the first regional magazines in the Northeast with our own website when we launched capecodlife.com.
Jenn Shurkus joined Cape Cod Life approximately one year ago as our new webmaster. In much of this past year, Jenn has been working on a total redesign of our website. We want to thank two very professional South Shore-based companies for their help: 3thought of Plymouth is helping us with development, and JD Softtech of Hanson is helping us with e-commerce. Jen Dow, our creative director, is helping us with everything. Our goal is to re-launch the site by the end of March, the month in which this issue of Cape Cod LIFE is printed and distributed. Jenn Shurkus told me I could tell you this as long as I was clear that the end of March is our “Goal” date. She claims the re-launch is complicated! And, she hopes she doesn’t end up needing a little more time. Stay tuned. This re-launch project is as important as any of our major developments over the years.
A few of our primary project objectives are to ensure that capecodlife.com is user-friendly, and in particular to improve our mobile-friendly features. We have been delighted with the monthly traffic counts of folks visiting our website, not to mention our 38,000 e-newsletter subscribers. I would talk about the audiences following us on social media if I knew what I was talking about. One of the important reasons behind the re-launch is this: every year the number of readers who vote in our annual “Best of” contest increases. This year’s tally exceeds last year’s total by 5,000 votes. AND, 60 percent of the votes this year were cast on mobile devices!
Central to this project are our plans to expand the relationship between the content in our print and online versions. For example, in this issue we present the recipes we received from “Best of” winning restaurants and chefs; without turning Cape Cod LIFE into a cookbook, we only have room for 22—half of the recipes submitted. Those interested, however, can find these recipes, plus 22 more—for a total of 44 new recipes—on capecodlife.com! This is only the second year of our “Best of” recipes feature and the number of submissions doubled over last year. Whether it’s our Calendar of Events, Changing Shape of the Cape & Islands articles, or our Guide to Beach Walks, etc., we have been expanding our online coverage considerably.
2017 is the 25th year of Cape Cod LIFE’s “Best of” awards issue. My wife, Judy, oversees the issue from an organizational standpoint. Last year, Julie Wagner, our marketing director, invited the Chronicle TV program to cover our “Best of” issue. Chronicle devoted a full half-hour program to the issue and told their viewing audience that they had “just scratched the surface of what can be found in the Cape Cod LIFE “Best of” issue.” My son Josh and I have ideas in mind for more reader/viewer interactivity, photographically speaking. My son Max and many staff members have been working on our e-commerce projects. The Cape Cod Life General Store will begin as part of our re-launch. Our sales people all have computer models of what it will look like. We believe the General Store vendors and customer participation will grow as well as everything else has to date.
Thank you to our loyal readers and online followers for helping Cape Cod Life to be what it is today—and tomorrow.