A few months before Hike the Hudson Valley went online in 2010, I built a prototype of the site that I thought looked pretty awesome, but was actually a monstrosity. My old college roommate, Josh Perlson (an interactive designer extraordinaire), looked at it and said, “Nice try, for an amateur.”
He then took it upon himself to build the site that became Hike the Hudson Valley. It was eye-catching, intuitive, and functional, a million-percent upgrade over the prototype. I’m still forever in his debt.
That site served the hikers of our region very well for the next eight years, and helped to turn Hike the Hudson Valley into a resource that reaches more people than I ever would have imagined possible. (It had 1.6 million page views last year, about 1.59 million more than a reasonable person might have predicted.)
But over the years, Hike the Hudson Valley started to show its age (eight Internet years is equal to three hundred human years). On a big screen, it still looked pretty good, but to use it on a mobile device, you had to have highly advanced pinching and squinting skills.
I started looking around for local creative folks who might be able to help spruce the place up. In late 2017, I reached out to Kingston Creative to see if they’d be up for designing a cool Hike the Hudson Valley T-shirt, partly because I wanted a cool T-shirt, but also because I wanted to get a feel for the kind of work they did.
Late last year, they launched a Kickstarter campaign with some awesome custom-designed Hike the Hudson Valley gear.
“Wow, I just ordered one to be nice, but these shirts are AWESOME!” my sister said. (And thanks to everyone who ordered stuff – hope you’re still enjoying it! We’ll figure out how to make some more swag available sometime soon, in case you missed the boat on that one.)
After the success of that project, Kingston Creative and I started discussing a revamp of the site. They already had some awesome ideas: besides being super-cool creative people, they were also already avid hikers and users of the site. They put many months of blood, sweat, and code into the revamp, and the (initial) results are what you now see before you.
We hope you enjoy playing around on the new Hike the Hudson Valley!
New features include:
- Mobile-responsive design
- Faster load times
- Larger pictures
- Improved navigation within the trail guides
- Cooler graphics
- “Last updated” dates on all trail guides
- Better commenting system
- An email sign-up in case you’d like be notified of new trail guides going online, occasional site announcements, etc.
- Ability to filter hike searches by several criteria (length, difficulty, scenery rating, etc.) on the new Search Hikes page
- A new Recent Comments page that gathers all comments left across the site in the last thirty days
- A new Hikes page that lets you flip through thumbnails and summaries of all the trail guides on this site
- The ability to sort by scenery rating, difficulty, and distance on The Hikes page by clicking the column headers
- The ability to click a highlight on The Hikes page to bring up a list of all hikes with that same highlight (for example, try clicking “Fire tower” or “Waterfall“). (This feature only works on non-tiny-screened devices, because the “Highlights” column doesn’t have room to display on mobile.)
- A homepage with current site news and recent updates
- The existence of this blog that you’re currently reading
- Better everything else, too
- The bad jokes are all still here, though. Sorry about that.
I hate it just as much as you do when websites launch new versions. “You ruined my life!” I yell at the screen, until I get used to it the next day.
But I really, really love this redesign, and I hope you do, too. A sincere thanks to Kingston Creative for the many months of hard work, discussions, design, coding, thoughtfulness, and creativity they’ve put into this site update. As hikers and professionals, they wanted to make this site an even more useful and beautiful resource for our granola-munching community. In my opinion, they’ve knocked it out of the state park. (If you agree, let ’em know in the comments below!)
A special thank-you also to all of the readers and commenters who have sustained this site over the years. Your comments and observations keep the trail guides up-to-date, and your encouragement has been the GORP that has fueled this whole endeavor. THANK YOU!!!
I hope you enjoy the new site, and find it to be even more useful in planning your next adventure.
Here’s to many more Hudson Valley adventures to come!