Metropulse.com 2.5

Welcome once again to our new work in progress!

UPDATE Nov. 11, 2010: Welcome to our re- redesigned website! Yeah, it took a while, but we're hoping THIS is the one. We'll be refining the nav and learning all the new bells and whistles in the coming weeks, but it should nevertheless be a big improvement over its predecessor right out of the gate. And much of what I wrote below two years ago still holds. Now, if we could just afford to hire a webmaster...

What you have on your screen at the moment is our first step in building a massive website covering all aspects of Knoxville life: news, issues, culture, entertainment, people. And while those are all core aspects of the print edition of Metro Pulse, we intend to extend those areas of coverage in ways that you can only achieve online.

To start with, our Calendar section is now fully interconnected with the rest of our content. For instance, if you click on "Spotlights" in the Calendar section, you'll find our best bets for the week's events, plus a lot more. Click on the event and you'll get our write-up; click on the venue name and you'll get information on the place, plus their full entertainment calendar and a handy map to get there. If the performer is a local artist, you can click on their name to see their profile page, which will include bios, lineups, stories, reviews, and (eventually) photos and mp3s. Would you like to be notified every time that artist is going to perform? Just sign up to get a convenient e-mail alert. And, as we upload more and more local mp3s, you'll be able to click on the Metropulse.com Radio and hear a stream of local music on your desktop.

Likewise, our Restaurant Guide is now online and completely searchable by cuisine type and regions; and, as we build out our listings, you'll be able to find restaurants by particular factors such as whether they have kids' menus, or have smoking porches, or if they're locally owned. And if they have live entertainment, their calendar will appear on their page. We've also added a Bar Guide to this section, and have inputted each bar's daily drink specials.

Furthermore, now you'll be able to write your own restaurant and bar reviews. Each venue page will allow you to add constructive comments, as well as rate other people's comments. (And yes, we will delete personal attacks, unsavory language, and downright meanness.)

Adding your opinion to our content is built-in throughout the site. Once you register and log in, you can leave comments on stories, places, and even events. Meanwhile, we've reinstated message boards at Metropulse.com so you can create your own topics of discussion, as well as helping us with story ideas, comments about the latest issue of the paper, and refining the website. (We're using phpBB software for the forums, so you'll have to create an additional log-in. Apologies!)

It's our goal to make Metropulse.com a compelling destination that goes beyond just repurposing the paper's content, and we'll be doing that with some upcoming new features:

• Blogs: Yep, we'll have them. But we didn't want to simply run yet more "reporters' notebooks" and instead we put together an interesting lineup of fresh voices for blogs that range from being purely entertaining to ones that add to our coverage of Knoxville. Once our IT department squares away the software set-up, we'll be launching them soon.

• Videos: Rather than just add to the glut of stupid-accident videos online, we're going to pick and choose the coolest local clips worthy of your attention. And we've put that responsibility in the hands of our partners at KnoxvilleFilms.com, who are putting together some truly fun and creative original series. Look for those around the end of the month.

• Photo Galleries: What better way to view Knoxville than through the eyes of great local photographers? We'll be creating galleries of portfolios examining our city from some unique perspectives.

We also ought to point out that our online classifieds section is better than ever, and can help you find the stuff you want or the buyers you need. And, yes, we now offer a full slate of online advertising opportunities to reach the best readership in town. (Just contact our online sales manager, Chris Casteel.)

The new Metropulse.com will be growing rapidly in the months to come, and we hope you bookmark us to track our progress. We're excited over the possibilities this new tool, and we've only just begun using its capabilities. Stay tuned!

Special thanks go to the Scripps Web team for building the site, particularly Amy Lawless, Herb Himes, and Ryan Berg.