WILLMAR -- The West Central Tribune will launch a new website next week, with new features to improve the experience of our digital readers.

The new Wctrib.com is expected to launch Tuesday.

Based on feedback from user studies conducted by a third-party firm, web technology professionals at Forum Communications Co. identified high-priority features, including a streamlined navigation, a live video ticker, a "latest" and "trending" news content module and an overall improved user interface.

"The Tribune is excited to launch an updated Wctrib.com next week, and we are looking forward to an improved digital readership experience," said Tribune Publisher Steve Ammermann. "The focus of all of our products -- print, digital, e-edition, magazines and newsletters alike -- is content."

The first step in the project was obtaining feedback from the company's most valuable audience -- its readers.

"Content is at the heart of what we do, so the goal of our site redesign is to make it easier for our readers to find the content they care about," said Steph Schroeder, chief digital marketing officer at Forum Communications. "We are continuously working to make improvements to our products, both in print and online, to better serve our communities."

Considering readers' responses and analytical data, new features were identified as priorities and developed.

"We made the homepage even better for finding interesting and important news from our readers," said Emil Hatlelid, a user experience and interface designer at Forum Communications.

After identifying top priorities, the web technology team began to implement the updates to Wctrib.com and other company websites.

The new website is developed on a new, multichannel publishing platform called CUE that enables the Tribune and other Forum Communications Co. sites to innovate their content and adapt to the ever-changing media environment. The new system brings together for the first time the system used for creating content and the web publishing system in one platform, simplifying the content process for the newsroom.

"The new Wctrib.com provides the West Central Tribune with a strong platform to better connect with readers with vital content," Tribune Editor Kelly Boldan.

Although this new site and its features will be released Tuesday, the collaborative effort among the Tribune newsroom, Forum Communications web technology staff and its audience will be ongoing, Boldan said.

The features added with the new Wctrib.com aim to meet readers' everyday needs, including finding the content they are seeking more easily, discovering trending articles and accessing video content more quickly.

"The West Central Tribune will celebrate its 125th year in 2020 and we remain committed to the future of journalism in Willmar and west central Minnesota," Ammermann said. "Providing engaging content is important to our readers and communities we serve, and this latest investment allows our media company to meet our mission."

Please log in to Wctrib.com next week to see our new digital platform. Please share your thoughts on what you see by emailing: news@wctrib.com or calling 320-214-4331.