Front Porch Forum Developing Search Tool

New policies born out of pandemic, racial reckoning

Williston Observer

April 15, 2021

By Jason Starr

Front Porch Forum plans to enable search capabilities across its platforms in the coming months, allowing users to search previous posts, advertisements, calendar events and business listings using keywords.

“A lot of times people will say, ‘I know somebody said something about a good plumber and I can’t remember where it was, or when’ so they need search. We’re working on that universal search tool now,” Front Porch Forum co-founder Michael Wood-Lewis said in a March 30 interview.

Information about the tool will be displayed in Front Porch Forum newsletters once it is live. The new capability is among a handful of initiatives the Westford-based company is undertaking as it continues to evolve as a Vermont-focused social medium.

Founded in 2006, Front Porch Forum is an email newsletter provider for towns and neighborhoods and also maintains a mobile app and website. It employs 24 people. A March job posting seeking a new “director of product” says the company is “entering a new stage of our development.” The new position will be part of the executive team working on the company’s “strategic direction and growth.”

Wood-Lewis said the company is working to build out its local events calendar and a business and non-profit directory, in addition to the new search tool.

“We need to keep changing and evolving,” he said. “We spend a lot of time looking at our data and looking at our member feedback and figuring out how to improve the user experience all while keeping it incredibly simple.

It’s the simplicity that makes Front Porch Forum newsletters an oasis in the digital landscape — where no live links, photos or videos can be posted. That won’t be changing in the foreseeable future, Wood-Lewis said. Advertisers who are used to using logos, photos and videos for promotion elsewhere are comfortable with the text-only Front Porch Forum format, he said.

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