I am excited to share that StAlbertGazette.com, a site I have been working on for the past year, has won three awards from the Local Media Association. I was part of a team of three people who worked very hard to accomplish the site look and functionality. StAlbertGazette.com won second place in Best Overall Local News Site, third place in Best Layout and Design (desktop/mobile) and honourable mention in Best Community Website. Read the full article here. I am going to share with you some of my favorite parts of the site that utilize different types of Saxotech/NEWSCYCLE Digital functionality.

Site Speed

Site speed was a huge issue for the Gazette. The Gazette had been set up using Saxotech templating years ago and the code needed to be updated to utilize both Saxotech and HTML/JS/CSS best practices. We did the following to speed up the sites:

  • Converted .inc files to macros
  • Eliminated scripts where possible
  • Merged JS and CSS files
  • Turned on fast-cache
  • Limit the info requested in article/contentlist/newslist tags
  • Enabled database caching
  • Utilized Google Hosted Libraries

The sites went from taking up to 12 seconds to load a page, to loading almost instantly. It was a huge improvement and such an important topic when it comes to Saxotech/NEWSCYCLE digital development that I have detailed these steps here. Go to St. Albert Gazette to browse the site to see its high speed in action.


The events module is one of the most complicated of Saxotech’s CCE functionality. While displaying the events isn’t too complicated, the user event submission form can be quite complex, especially if you are trying to utilize the recurrence functionality. I think we did a good job making the events user submission form user friendly with the capability of using recurrence. While there are even more options (such as submitting a monthly event, not just daily and weekly) available, the Gazette felt that the recurrence options presented were the most important to their users.

Blogs and Columnist Bios

The Gazette features a Blogs section and a Columnist Bios section that both utilize CCE to maintain all of the authors information. We could have used Smart Bylines, but we felt that there might be a future need to add different fields of information for the blogger/columnist, such as, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. We didn’t want to limit the type of information we could store about each individual.

Staff Directory

On the Contact Page we use the JQuery Accordian plugin along with the departmentoverview tag which calls all the data in the staff section of the EI.


Finally, we improved the comments section of the Gazette by NOT using Saxotech for comments. Let’s face it Disqus is a really great, really free and really easy to set up and use tool that blows away anything we can do in Saxotech. Sometimes its better to go for the 3rd party integration and in this case it definitely made sense. Disqus specializes in comments, meaning, the chance of any CMS being able to duplicate their ease of use and functionality is not very likely.

Local Media Association

2013 Newspaper of the Year Contest Winners
2013 Best In Digital Media Contest Winners