Northwest Passage website and social media

2010–present | Last Activity: current

Northwest Passage is a website and social media project dedicated to chronicling the 1990s Seattle-”grunge” phenomenon. This topic has had ample coverage in books and films, but its online coverage has been severely lacking. This subject has always been a huge personal interest to me so I took it upon myself to build the site that I thought should have already existed in the first place.

My Role

As the creator of this website, I am ultimately responsible for everything on this project: design, development, content strategy and development and social media. I utilized my entire skill set and experience to create this project, using my journalism background to conduct interviews and create content, my web design and content strategy background to build and maintain the site, and my background in social media to promote the site.

Approach

My approach to this project included the following:

  • The emphasis of this website/social media project is quality content over click-bait. One benefit of not having a monetary goal for this website is that I can focus entirely on quality content and a good user experience. I did not have to resort to spammy articles and cheap SEO tricks to earn clicks and pageviews. Content such as lists are displayed on user-friendly, single-page layouts instead of SEO-friendly slideshows. No ads mean quicker load times and cleaner layouts and better experiences for the reader. From a social media standpoint, quality content means I do not have to rely on click-bait headlines to generate traffic and likes.
  • In previous iterations, this site acted as a “database” – with lists of relevant bands, albums, events, etc. Useful and interesting information, but the content had almost no share-ability. In the current iteration, I switched to article content to become the backbone of the website’s content. As a journalism major in college, I decided to take the initiative to create the content myself. I decided to write articles on topics of interest that previously have not been covered in article form before, such as this history of one of the most underrated bands in this music scene or this profile on one of the key compilation albums. I’ve also included select features from other writers, published with permission and not available anywhere else on the internet. The spreadsheet data is now utilized for social media content.
  • Social media has become the #1 driver of all website referral traffic, and is indeed the #1 driver on this website. Instead of making a website that centered around the main page, each article is treated as a landing page with a large headline and a hero image. In addition, a short description of the website, along with links to other articles, is featured in both the sidebar and the footer of each page. When the reader is finished with one article, there are clear calls-to-action to other content on the page. This is an intentional design decision to keep readers on the page after they are done with the article and a reflection of the fact that most web users do not reach this page through the home page.
  • Mobile traffic continues to increase (62% of site visits in 2018 have been from a mobile or tablet device, per Google Analytics), so the site employs mobile-first strategy; each page layout is conceptualized on a small screen first before larger screen sizes are considered. This means a simplified layout that looks just as nice (and more importantly, just as legible) on an iPhone as it would on a desktop computer. This concept applies not just to design but to content as well.
article page

Above: Article content page. As traffic is mostly directed to a typical article page from search engines and social media, each article is treated as a stand-alone page. To keep users on the website, there are multiple next-step options on the page: the navigation menu at the top, the archives list in the sidebar, and the universal footer.

spreadsheet

I compiled this spreadsheet of pivotal events of the northwest rock music scene from the 1980s to present day. This material is used for regular social media content.

Northwest Passage social media

This tweet got the most impressions by this account after being re-tweeted by the official @Nirvana page (943,000+ followers). Posting a timely and relevant message and tagging the official account surely ….

Nortwest Passage list content

Above: List content page. Who likes 15-page slideshows? No one! With no need to rely on page views, this site can feature list-style content in a single page. This site focuses on user experience, not ad revenue tricks.

Results

Northwest Passage remains the only website dedicated to this extremely influential part of music history. The new content approach has led to strong SEO rankings, with this original article ranking #4 out of 141,000,000 results on Google. But the project’s main goal was always just to build a website that covered a topic that has meant so much to me personally. I’m happy to have taken on the role of amateur music historian to build this website.