Dogs in Canada was the winner of the inaugural Best Website award at the 2010 National Magazine Awards. As fellow nominee Torontoist pointed out, it’s hard to compete with puppy videos. Even so, the award was well deserved. I asked Kelly Caldwell, editor in chief, a few questions about their site.
In brief, what is Dogs in Canada about?
Dogs in Canada serves the interests of Canadian dogs and the people who love them. Our readers range from purebred fanciers and breeders to pet lovers. We love dogs!
What is your website’s editorial strategy?
It’s simple: we cater to the diverse needs of the dog-loving web user. Our magazine has a history of relying upon industry experts to provide advice on matters relating to canine health, nutrition, training and behaviour. We’ve kept that standard for the website, transitioning many of our experts to the web, where they provide the same level of authority, but often in a condensed format. So for example, where our vet writer might put together a lengthy feature on parvovirus in the print version of the magazine, whereas for online he might condense the subject matter down to the five things you must know about parvovirus.
What are some of the highlights of your site?
The most popular element of the site is our Directory of Breeders. Consumers have increasingly turned to the internet for researching and purchasing, and this has been the case in the pet marketplace. Visitors come to learn about the many different breeds and do their research on what kind of dog might be suitable for them. The Directory of Breeders is an online listing of Canada’s breeders, including links to their sites. The puppy videos are also a very popular part of the site, understandably!
What updates are you hoping to do?
We are very keen to implement some design and navigation changes, including a more advanced search engine on the site. We would also like to incorporate additional elements of social networking sites and technologies into the next stage of design. From a content perspective, we will likely continue on the same path, though as the site grows we’d love to increase the frequency of contributions.
What makes your site the best magazine website in Canada?
We were pleasantly surprised to have received that recognition. With only three staff working on the site, we felt our odds were pretty slim, especially when we considered how many excellent Canadian magazine websites are out there. One thing that might have given us an edge is that all of us working for Dogs in Canada are truly passionate about our subject matter. We know a lot about dogs and we know even more about our audience because, in many ways, we’re just like them. We come back, time and time again, to a simple question: “is this what our readers want?” The answer to that question is paramount and dictates our design approach, our choice of artistic elements and most of all our editorial content.