I’ve been working with the Chicago Independent Radio Project since their 2007 founding. A large part of the group’s time is spent on their online radio station, found at CHIRPradio.org. While they work toward lowering the barriers to low-power FM access nationwide, they use their online station to spread the spirit of truly independent, community-centered radio. With years behind the original launch and armed with feedback and user analytics, I set out to develop the second version of their flagship station site.
With their audience increasingly accessing the site through mobile and touch-based devices (a number that rose monthly) I knew the new version would have to respond to all environments. Work was done to replace all Flash-based elements with HTML5 alternatives that would work on mobile devices lacking Flash support.
A large area of listener confusion had been the separation of the group’s blog from their main site, so the two were merged into one. The content was organized and simplified as well. Visually, the site was brought in line with the new identity that I’d been rolling out in the station’s mobile apps as well as on their mailing list.
Finally, I worked with CHIRP to develop new site functionality for listeners, including the ability for users to create accounts and track favorite songs, community forums to foster discussion and debate, and a more flexible and feature-rich store infrastructure. The back end was rebuilt from the ground up to support the way the group’s more than 200 volunteers needed to access and manage the site’s content.
The biggest challenge in developing the new back end was establishing the infrastructure needed to support a network of sites. The launch of the new CHIRP Radio website also included launches of a site used by the group’s volunteer base and a dedicated site for CHIRP’s annual record fair. All sites are managed through the same back-end system and share data and user accounts. This new infrastructure will also make it much easier to roll out new sites for future CHIRP events and initiatives.