Grasping the nettle

I’m getting my hands on our website this week.

My title is (for now) website champion, because our biggest hurdle is a newsroom at best disinterested and at worst actively hostile to the web.

Here’s my list of  immediate improvements, things we can do NOW. Some are really basic – because we really are starting from scratch. Have I missed any?

1: Change the culture:

The internet is not killing our newspaper, but a rubbish website will. People should be excited about the new potential, not convinced it will be the death of us all.

2: Content:

Break news all the time.

Make web part of every day and every conference.

Tailor content to time of day and day of week.

More video. We’ve bought some Flip video cameras and reporters can just point and shoot.

Every page should link to something else. Sell the content to the reader – we need to work to get them to turn the page

Use featurettes and panels more creatively and change them at least daily.

Liveblogging: Sports, events, breaking news with Cover it Live.

Revamp sections: Taste, What’s On, the magazine sections to be livelier and easier to navigate with added content or video to go with in-paper content.

Think more about the way stories are written. How will they read in automatically generated RSS feeds? Think about SEO

3: Generating traffic:

Better generation of in-site traffic. Every page should lead the reader to something else with creative use of links. If this reader has read this story, what else might they like? Whoever uploads the stories should have knowledge of what else is online, what’s good and what’s worth promoting.

Distribution – we expect to have to work at it with the paper so why shouldn’t we work at it online?

Make use of social networking sites like Twitter.

Using Dipity to create galleries and timelines that will be accessible and easy to find for all Dipity’s users as well as our readers.

Set up a Daily Echo Flickr account where we can upload our best pictures and encourage readers to  join our Flickr group and submit pictures too.

Use our Daily Echo YouTube channel.

Make sure RSS feeds are obvious and easy to use – and promote them to readers.

Use email to send out daily business briefings, news alerts, entertainment teasers to subscribers and promote in-paper and online.

Breaking news text alerts. Can be story specific  or a daily ‘top headlines in tomorrow’s paper’ text.


2 thoughts on “Grasping the nettle

  1. Dan Thornton says:

    Number 1 on your list is definitely the hardest – particularly when many journalists are so cynical about the possibilities online. It’s not, as many presume, an age thing, just a fear of the unknown, and the assumption that an article you can’t hold in your hands isn’t worth as much.

    Crack number 1 totally, and you’ll be ahead of most publications in the world!

    My only suggestion/change would be to use social aggregation sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Mixx, etc to drive traffic ahead of Twitter – Twitter is for a small number of influential people to interact with you, not driving large numbers of referrals…

  2. Sam Shepherd says:

    Take your point about Twitter, Dan! And you are absolutely right about the hardest challenge…so many of our staff don’t even know what’s on our site let alone what it can do for them…

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