The Greenwood Dog Pound sports website has received a major face-lift, according to founder and manager Brian Vaughn. In fact, it recently underwent a complete overhaul before launching for public access on August 1st. The redesign brings a bold, fresh look to the website, now entering its 19th year of existence.
Created in 1999 by Vaughn, a 1993 graduate of Greenwood High School, the Dog Pound became a model for numerous other sports websites across the state and was also the first web-based media platform to be recognized and credentialed by the Arkansas Activities Association.
In 2014 the Dog Pound was purchased by the Bulldog Foundation (BFI), a private non-profit organization founded more than three decades ago to support the GHS football program. Over time the foundation has purchased athletic equipment, upgraded existing facilities, and financed new construction for athletics on the high school campus, while broadening its support for other sports.
The following statement is from the official announcement posted earlier on the website and its Facebook page. “Exciting News For Bulldog Fans! August 1st we will launch the completely redesigned www.GreenwoodDogPound.com website. The new website is mobile friendly, cleaner, faster to update, and completely searchable. All the content on the current website is being transferred to the new website and layout, and more archived content will continue to be added after the new website launch. We've been working on the new website since the first of the year and are excited to relaunch the Dog Pound with the latest in website design and function on all platforms.”
The announcement also acknowledged the critical importance of the website's sponsors and advertisers in supporting the Dog Pound and the GHS athletic program. “It's through [the] financial support of all our sponsors that [made possible] the artificial turf on the football field, our indoor [practice] facility (GMAC), our scoreboards [and] Jumbotron, one of the finest weight rooms in the state, and www.GreenwoodDogPound.com. Please patronize all our sponsors and thank them for supporting Greenwood Bulldogs' athletics.”
In a lengthy interview in July, Vaughn spoke with pride and passion about the upgrade and improvements to the website that was his brainchild in the early days of the Internet at the end of the last century. He also touched on the relationship between the Dog Pound and the Bulldog Foundation.
“We are relaunching a complete redesign of the Greenwood Dog Pound website as we go into our 19th football season. The Bulldog Foundation supports Greenwood football, and has for a number of years. They helped with the field turf, the Jumbotron, the weight room – all the big items – and they run the Greenwood Dog Pound website now, which covers all of Greenwood athletics. The Greenwood school system considers the Dog Pound as their athletic website,” said Vaughn.
“The Dog Pound was actually the first individual school website recognized by the AAA as a media source. I've also seen a lot of websites come and go while we've been around. We just take a unique look at what we do. We don't try to be overly flashy and we think content is king,” he added.
Asked about the motivation behind the newly redesigned website, Vaughn explained, “The [software] program I used at the start back in 1999 is no longer available. They quit updating it about five years ago. Website design is constantly improving and changing, so the program we were using was holding us back. It was beginning to make the website look dated, and it was complicated to use. There was a lot of time spent building the pages. Today's technology in web design is just so much more improved. It's going to make the website more efficient, with more timely articles. It's pulling everything together.”
The idea for a redesign began germinating during last fall's successful run to the 6A state championship by the Bulldogs. “During the last football season we evaluated the existing website and concluded that we would look at other possibilities,” said Vaughn. “We contacted three website designers who were recommended to us and interviewed them, and decided we would go with David Jamell [of Fort Smith].
“We've had numerous meetings to lay the groundwork and we have been very pleased with David's desire to want the best possible product. It's really been a great relationship. We didn't want a cookie cutter approach [to the website], and David was great to work with to give us what we wanted, even when he had to go to the software developer [for help].”
For those who may not know, Vaughn briefly recounted the history of the Dog Pound. “For the first several years it was just football, then we branched out to include the big three – football, basketball, and baseball – and we highlighted major accomplishments in the other sports.
“Then eight to ten years ago we started including the other sports regularly. It also used to be just varsity sports, but now in the last year or so we have started covering more junior high sports. A lot of that has been due to the addition of Peggy Barger, doing a lot of our photography. She's able to get to more junior high games.”
In addition to photos by Vaughn and Barger, the Dog Pound also benefits from the assistance of photographers Sabastian Neece (varsity football) and another newcomer, T. J. Adams (all sports). For the last several years the writing on the Dog Pound has been handled by this reporter, Richard White, whose sports writing career began in 1979, but has been in Greenwood since 1993.
“It was just me for a very long time,” said Vaughn. “Patrick Crumby helped me with graphics [in the beginning]. But up until now, everything that has actually been posted on the website, I personally put it on there. That's one of the nice things about the new Dog Pound. Our entire team will be able to contribute their own product to the website, which will make it more timely and fresh.”
Asked to briefly describe the website's new improved features, Vaughn said, “The first thing people will see is that it's cleaner, fresher, and mobile-friendly. It is a responsive website, so the page will respond depending on how you are viewing it. It you're looking at it on a desktop or a laptop [computer], it will display a certain way. If you're looking at it on a tablet or your phone it's going to condense down. It's very user-friendly and it should be faster, and that's a big plus.
“The home page will be the last seven articles and pictures we have loaded – the most current information. But you can load more articles at the bottom – hundreds of articles,” continued Vaughn. Website visitors will also be able to follow links to much larger photo albums for many games.
“There is also a live stream button, and the other big exciting news is that pay-per-view is going away this year. We've been fortunate to have more sponsors come on board, so the games will be free to the fans for varsity football [all games], home junior varsity and junior high football games, and other special events such as graduation.
“We have some great sponsors and the new website will allow them to receive much better exposure for the money they spend with us. Now advertisers will be featured on the home page, the individual sports pages, and the articles themselves,” said Vaughn.
“The website's going to have a huge picture gallery, and you can click on individual sports for articles and photos. Our old library is now our “media archive” where we will have past game video and radio broadcasts. That area will continue to be a work in progress even after the launch. There is archive material I have going all the way back to 1999, so older stuff will continue to be added,” he explained.
“Just like updating apps on a phone, there will be little fixes [updates] to the website after we go live next month. It's an ongoing process and we appreciate the patience of the fans. But I'm feeling pretty good now that we are going to be very close to having all the old content loaded.”
Vaughn also referenced the important relationship of social media to the Dog Pound. “So many people get their information from social media today. Every [Dog Pound] article is going to get pushed out to social media, Facebook, Twitter, and hopefully Instagram. They will get a blurb, but then will have to click on that to go to the article [on the website].
“We're very excited about the relaunch,” added Vaughn. “We were cutting edge when we started and we feel like we will be cutting edge again. Come and check out the new and improved Dog Pound and tell all your family, friends, and [school] alumni around the world.
“Like many others in the greater Greenwood community – the school administration, the coaches, and much more – the Dog Pound has played a role in the success of Greenwood athletics. We're happy and proud to be part of the overall athletic program, and anything we can do to promote it is what we want to do. We have a great working relationship with the school and the coaches, and we are very thankful for that,” said Vaughn.
Augmenting Vaughn's comments, Greenwood School District Athletic Director Dr. Dustin Smith said, “The revamped Greenwood Dog Pound website will further enhance the information regarding Bulldogs' athletics. The website is the comprehensive home for news for our athletic program. Whether it is video, pictures or news articles, the Dog Pound tells the story of Bulldogs' athletics. I'm looking forward to the [new] website and how it will continue to showcase our athletic programs, coaches, and student-athletes.”
Any business or individual wishing to advertise with the Dog Pound may do so by calling 479-650-7023. Advertising space is available on the new website, on the Dog Pound live stream broadcasts, with Bulldogs football radio, and on the Jumbotron or sign advertising at Smith-Robinson Stadium.