Dear Untapped New York readers!
Today, we’re excited to reveal a completely redesigned Untapped New York website! It’s been more than six months in the making. To all our readers, tour guests and Insider members who have given us helpful feedback over the years, we were listening. We celebrated our tenth anniversary this year and did a lot of reflecting about the organic evolution of Untapped New York over the the last decade. It’s been the most exciting and rewarding journey of my life to be at the helm of Untapped New York and I’m proud of the team we’ve built and the community of fans, content contributors, tour guests, and members who have been our allies all through the way.
One of our primary goals was to make it clear at first glance what we do here at Untapped New York: revealing New York City’s secrets and hidden gems. On our homepage, you’ll see a section that reads “Read. Tour. Join.” We share New York City’s secrets through our online magazine and through experiences on public tours and events in our Insiders membership club.
We also aimed to make things more navigable, so you’ll see the menu bar shift depending on which part of the website you’re on. Anything experience-related has one menu bar and everything magazine-related has another. There’s even a landing page just for the magazine content, for your bookmarking pleasure.
From a technical standpoint, even though our last redesign was in 2016, the addition of tours and memberships over the last few years meant we added to a base website that became increasingly difficult to sustain on the backend. Custom-built functions bogged down the site in terms of page load and created issues behind the hood. Internally, we used an architectural joke of course, calling our backend the old Kowloon Walled City — if you modified one element, the whole thing might come crashing down. This became particularly apparent when WordPress forced the nearly 20 million websites using its CMS to move to a new “Gutenberg update” — that was a rough day earlier this year.
So, we took the opportunity not only to rebuild the backend but also to completely modernize the look of the website and make it more accessible and easier to read and navigate. We are still perfecting and debugging some things here and there, and have a few additional products to release this week, but here are some of the highlights of our redesign!
- Clean homepage: We stripped everything down to the main components: photo and title. And section of the website are separated by background color for easier scrolling.
- Our articles go forward will have a stylish new layout with a splash image on top, showcasing our photography better since almost all our imagery on the site is original and taken by our talented team
- Slideshow: We’ve got a new and improved slideshow! You can see an example o the splash image and slideshow in our latest article about the new sign atop the former WATCHTOWER building.
- Lightbox Photo Viewer: If you click on an image, you can click through a carousel of all the photos in that article
- Narrower content width: We’ve followed best practices for readability and made our article width narrower
- Our website site is ADA compliant, and follows web accessibility guidelines that make internet sites possible for the vision impaired to consume, including a lack of pop ups, alt tagged images go forward, and more.
- Our content will be soon on Google AMP for super speedy loading from Google search
- Infinite Scroll: Soon, new articles will load when you get to the bottom of one, so you’ll be clicking less!
- Newsletter frequency: You can now choose whether you want to get our newsletter daily, 3x a week or weekly
- More stylized integration of tours and memberships into our articles — we’ll be phasing out that clunky Book Now button.
- Coming soon: Events Calendar. Releasing shortly, you will be able to see all of our Things to Do recommendations in calendar form! Here you will find highlights of our own tours, events from our Insider Museum Partners (more on that below), and staff pick events from our popular weekly events column. Organizations and individuals will also have the ability to advertise their events on this calendar (but we’ll only accept events that fit the readership and editorial criteria, of course).
- We’ve completely rebuilt our tour page. It’s pretty but it also has a tour specific menu bar! You can now easily navigate between public tours, private tours, gift cards, Insiders membership, or go back to the magazine.
- The tour page leads to a separate page where you can see all of our tours (we’re adding more today, and soon you’ll also be able to see our Insider member events there) as well as separate landing pages for private tours, corporate groups, or school groups!
- You can book a tour without clicking to a new page, if you already know what you want. Just hover, and click the Book Now button that appears.
- If you do want more information, our tour specific listings are even snazzier, with image slideshow, sections of the page dividing up the information like meeting location, FAQ, and testimonials, and a sticky booking bar for mobile (desktop coming soon)
- Our biggest news is in our Insiders membership program. With the new website launch, we’re also incredibly excited to announce our new Insiders+ membership level that offers free admission to over a dozen New York City museums! These include some of our favorite architectural, historical, and art institutions, including:
- The Queens Museum
- Skyscraper Museum
- Fraunces Tavern Museum
- Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
- Lewis Latimer House
- King Manor Museum
- Merchants House Museum
- Morris Jumel Mansion
- Museum of Chinese in America
- Museum at Eldridge Street
- New York City Fire Museum
- Wyckoff House Museum
- Poster House Museum
- We’re still working on a few things regarding the Insiders+ membership benefits, including a page where you can see a map and read descriptions of all our member museums and a member card to show upon entry, but for now you can gain admission to the museums by showing the top of your newly redesigned Member Account page.
- Membership Pricing: All of our previous membership plans will remain at the same price. The new Insiders+ level is offered at $15/month. The original Insiders membership remains at $10 along with our Explorer (dual) membership at $25. Our pricing within the program is now more logical, with a $5 discount for dual memberships. It’s easy to upgrade to the Insiders+ level by going to your totally redesigned Member Account page and click on Change Plan.
- Our $5 Supporter level membership, for those that simply want to support the mission and perhaps live outside of the New York area, still exists but will not be in the initial offerings for new signups.
- New Account Page: One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we’ve had is that it was hard to find the member account page. Now, you’ll be able to login to your account from any page through the top bar, and enter a new snazzy Account Page where you can see upcoming events and manage your subscription.
- Switching Between Monthly and Yearly Plans: You still get one month free for going yearly, but now you can easily switch plans in your account between monthly and yearly. Your plan will automatically prorate or bill you for the difference.
- Programming: We’ve also heard your feedback about event capacity. We’ll be announcing more dates (when possible) of tours from the get go and organizing larger-scale events. Stay tuned!
- Newsletter Redesign: We’ve redesigned everything you see when you become a member, including the newsletters you get!
We hope you like what’s new! We’ll be resuming our normal publishing schedule today. Feel free to send us feedback through our new contact form. Thank you for being part of the Untapped New York community!
Michelle Young, founder of Untapped New York and the team