WaterShapes has been going through some big changes, some readily apparent, others are more behind the scenes. As Editor Eric Herman explains, after a set of much-needed upgrades, the publication is set to deliver the content readers have come to expect.
By Eric Herman
Welcome back to WaterShapes! If you’ve missed seeing WS in recent weeks, and in some cases months, there are a couple reasons for our absence.
First, since February, we’ve had the publication in the shop, rebuilding the website in a new platform and reworking our email delivery set-up. Like most any publication, there’s a need for occasional modernizing, and after 10 strong years as a digital resource (following our 12-year run as a print magazine) the time had come to rework the “machinery.” Secondly, late last year, we experienced a spate of frustrating technical difficulties that inhibited circulation to many of our subscribers.
Now, I’m thrilled to report that the redesign and retooling are complete and we are ready to move forward with renewed vigor and enthusiasm!
Now at the ripe old age of 22, WaterShapes has seen its share of changes in the trade publishing arena and broader media landscape. While we are deeply proud of the publication’s past, we also know how important it is to evolve with the times.
Case in point, what you see on your screen is the first “mini-edition” of WaterShapes. It’s part of our reworked publication schedule, which we believe will better serve you, the reader, in today’s tsunami of online content.
Here’s what you can expect: on the first Thursday of every month, we’ll send you a full WaterShapes edition — the comprehensive package of articles, features and departments you’ve come to expect. On every remaining Thursday of the month, we’ll deliver one of these abbreviated editions with a couple of select articles, both old and new, that we want to highlight.
The content will remain devoted to elevating “professionals and consumers who make water part of their lives” but it will be delivered in a way that should fit more neatly with today’s fast-paced world of information delivery and consumption.
Be sure to look for our next full edition, which will hit your inbox Thursday, April 1 – and that’s no joke!
A NEW WEBSITE
Ever since the magazine went out of print in 2011, WaterShapes has carried on as an online entity. Our website, WaterShapes.com, has become an historic repository of mostly timeless content, with more than 4,000 feature articles, columns and product releases — a collection that stretches back to the very first issue in February 1999 up to our most recent editorial offerings.
Our team used the time during the pandemic to plan for a much-needed new WaterShapes digital home. After months of focused effort, we’re proud to have our wealth of content available on a redesigned web platform. It’s built on a customized modern version of Word Press, which we believe will enhance the reader experience. You’ll easily find everything we’ve ever published, including entire PDF versions of the original print magazine, and every article published online since then.
RETRACING MISSED STEPS
As is so often the case with progress, there have been some bumps and setbacks along the way. Back in October, in an effort to streamline our circulation, we switched to a new email delivery platform. Unfortunately, by November we became painfully aware that more than half of our emails were landing in spam folders and filters.
Try as with might to fix the problem on the new platform, it was to no avail. As a result of that learning experience, we’ve now returned to our original email system, the widely-used and eminently reliable Constant Contact. In making that transition, we decided to rebuild our campaign templates, making key improvements that will help ensure more consistent email delivery and readability.
The upshot was that in the fourth quarter of 2020, we ran a bunch of really great articles that many of you never had a chance to see. That’s why over the next few months, we’ll be rerunning select stories from what we now affectionately refer to as “the dark editions,” which are all archived on the new website in their entirety.
JOINING THE WOLFPACK
Once an entirely independent media voice, WaterShapes is now an important part of Watershape University (WU), an educational organization that is, at its core, inspired by the original magazine. Indeed, what WaterShapes, the publication, has always worked to accomplish through B2B editorial content and advertising, WU is now similarly pursuing those same objectives via live and online educational programs.
It’s a great fit based on shared vision and organic synergy. For my part, I was thrilled when I heard that WU had acquired its namesake publication from founding publisher, Jim McCloskey, who has transitioned into retirement over the past year. It was equally exciting to be offered the opportunity to step into Jim’s shoes and take over editorial operations under the new ownership.
WU co-founders Dave Peterson and Bill Drakeley have made it abundantly clear that WaterShapes’ legendary content must continue to aim for the same high ground it always has. Both have been long-time contributors and advisors for the publication and I cannot think of better stewards of its future. As part of WU’s “Wolfpack” the publication’s content naturally includes updates and editorials created to support and help promote WU’s programs.
The timing of all this exciting change couldn’t be more apropos. As the pandemic begins to abate and live events return to the calendar, the future for both WU and WaterShapes is very bright. We believe we’re entering a new era of optimism, possibility and I dare say, freedom. I can’t think of a better time to re-introduce a publication that has always looked to the future.