The Long Journey to a New Site
Tags: Alaska Hiking, Backpacking, DuFresne, Guidebooks, Jim DuFresne, Outdoors, Trail Talk, trails
This is a huge day for MichiganTrailMaps.com. After more than a year in the works our new web site has been launched. What an effort it’s been but we think it’s worth it. The site is cleaner, easier to use, much more mobile friendly. In this Trail Talk blog Jim DuFresne, who has been involved with MichiganTrailMaps.com from the beginning, writes about how the new web site came to be.
Most of all we’d like to thank you, all the hikers, backpackers, Nordic skiers and trail users, for your support over the years and visiting our eshop. The positive comments have always vastly outnumbered the negative feedback and is what motivates us to keep mapping Michigan’s trails and posting them online.
By Jim DuFresne
In 2009, three trail-use advocates were talking, actually complaining, about the diminish coverage of trails in Michigan and the lack of good trail maps. The media industry – newspapers in particular but also magazines and even book publishers – had just endured a period of upheaval that resulted in less advertising dollars and thus greatly reduced staffs and locally-produced content. Trails were just not something they could afford to cover.
There had to be a better way and the following spring MichiganTrailMaps.com was launched. In reality, MTM is a small niche publisher that leans heavily on selling trail maps and guidebooks online. What set us apart were our maps. We produced our own as oppose to uploading the existing maps handed out by state and federal agencies. We combined GPS coordinates with USGS topos, satellite imagery and good old fashion field research – we actually hike or mountain bike the trails – to produce the most actuate maps available, maps that are easy to understand and use on the trail.
Online we posted all the information needed to select a trail along with a mile-by-mile guide so you knew what you would encounter once you were out there. We also made our maps available by instant downloads.
And it worked. We had steady traffic from the start and within a year needed to redesign parts of the web site. In 2012, we completely overhauled it and five years later we were at it again.
We’re extremely proud to announce that the new and very improved site for MichiganTrailMaps.com is up and working.
First and foremost, the new site was built for mobile devices as well as for laptops and desktop computers. We had to change with the times as data revealed almost 65 percent of our visitors now come to us via their smart phone or tablet. With that in mind the new site is more stream-lined when accessed by a smart phone, making it easier to search for a trail and then download the map.
Heading up north for the weekend? Search for a trail while you’re still on I-75 and by the time you arrive at Gaylord you know where you’re going to hike. Arrive at a trailhead and the map box is empty? Download our map instantly and then hit the trail. Need an interpretive brochure for a nature trail? We’ve added those as well.
In the process of redesigning the site we also took the time to upgrade many of maps. Some were seven years old and we’ve learned a lot since then. The old black-gray-and-white maps are gone and have been replaced with full-color editions, featuring all the USGS contour lines, additional icons along the trail and mileage not only for the described route but also all other trail segments.
And we finally began upgrading our online coverage of Isle Royale National Park. You can check out the new maps for a number of individual trails, such as Lane Cove, Ishpeming or Indian Portage Trails, and by next March, when many of you are getting serious up an upcoming adventure to the Lake Superior Island, we hope to have them all done.
Some aspects of the old site have remained the same. At the top there is still “Find A Trail” which has always been the heart and soul of our site. You can still search for a path by region, county, city or destination. Or by activity such as a cross-country ski trail, a short hike under three miles or one that is ideal for as an overnight adventure. You can also search for state park trails, or county trails or a trail in one of our national parks.
So many trails, so many ways to find them.
The journey to this point of our trip has been fun but we could not have done it without you; the visitors to our web site, the hikers and backpackers who purchase our maps and guidebooks and the sponsors who make it all possible.
We’re a small Michigan-based publisher so we appreciate every map or guidebook ordered and we take seriously every comment and suggestion that is forwarded to us.
Thank you so much and we’ll see you on the trail.