I know what some of you are thinking: What did you do with my Noozhawk?! It’s a fair question, but it’s actually one you answered for us.
When it comes to the delivery of news and information, the Internet has countless advantages over what I like to call Fossil Media. Among my favorites is the capability to analyze and sort vast amounts of data.
There’s probably too much of it, but the information reveals important user patterns that can help us better organize the presentation and delivery of Noozhawk’s news. In short, the way you navigated the Web site you used yesterday pointed us toward the layout and feature design that you see today.
For instance, more than a year ago, Edgar Oliveira, our tireless “Web guy,” was playing around with some scripts and he came up with the News Grid that you can access from the horizontal menu below our logo at the top of this page. It was an instant hit with readers, which fascinated us. We watched it, we talked about it, we experimented with some modifications. Now we think we understand its popularity enough to dare to incorporate more grids in our layout.
Another cool new feature is our Locals Only section that we’re previewing now toward the bottom of our home page. We’re compiling all of our popular personality profiles in one location and it should be fully functional by the end of the week. These stories are about people you know, or should know, but we had unintentionally hidden them all over our site. Now you’ll be able to find them in one handy location.
As Noozhawk is a business, we have to make money to stay in business and expand our professional news product. I can appreciate that some readers would prefer pure news, but as retired Boston Globe publisher Steve Ainsley once told me back when he was running The New York Times’ newspaper in Santa Barbara: “Advertising is content, too.”
I didn’t appreciate it then but I sure do now as a publisher. Advertising and sponsorships are vital to us and I’m proud to say that we sell more ads on our site than any other news organization around. Steve most certainly would approve, but I also know that ad design can benefit from simplification. As with the grid system, we’ve tried to put together a page that streamlines both our ads and our articles. The more effective our ads are, the more articles we can provide. Simple.
We’re not nearly finished. Just in the time it’s taken me to type this, I’ve compiled a list of nearly 100 items that need to be altered or fixed. But elasticity is another advantage of the Web. While I would prefer to be perfect right from the start, I’ve learned that it’s usually better to “build less” — in the parlance of the 37signals book, Getting Real — and let our readers identify what needs to be changed. If you see something amiss, firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we’ll continue to tweak the site, our next big design project is our Daily Noozhawk, the free e-Bulletin we e-mail to your inbox every morning at 4:15 a.m. A fresh new look is coming later this month via a new, more professional provider, MailChimp. If you’re not already receiving the Daily Noozhawk, click here to sign up now. We’re just short of 8,000 subscribers and would love to reach that milestone by the end of the month.
Finally, I’m very grateful to Edgar Oliveira and my son, Will, who have toiled long and hard to code and format our new site, and to my son, Colin, who is putting his Parsons education to use to redesign the Daily Noozhawk. I’m so proud of all three. Also, I’d like to thank my friend, Matt Moore, for our bold new logo. Good work, boys.
We may have a brand-new look, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to report on our community with enthusiasm, professionalism, balance and fairness. Thank you for your support.