Right. I’m just about to email the web development team a summary document of the feedback given in response to my post.
Word users can download the original document, or you can get it in html.
It is, of course, a first draft. So comments and suggestions are very much welcome!
Ready for some comments?
1) The summary headings are good. Nice synthesis of the various comments into ten bullet points.
2) Point 10 seems to be about the ability to personalise either the webpage or the feed. I would welcome a means of personalising feeds, while leaving the website itself in a standard format for all users.
A personalised feed could be useful in terms of gaining subscriptions. If, as John notes, stories could be tagged with various localising and personalising labels, I could set up tailored feeds for each of my interests – be they my about ward, certain kinds of events, a particular journalist or feature series.
So, under Point 4, the importance of tagging could mean tags set by the publisher and/or tags set by the subscriber.
3) typo: ‘story in vein’ probably means ‘story in vain’, although vein does have interesting connotations.
Adverts – Anything that might play sound/video without prompt or generally interrupts the interaction of the page is a bad idea. Make sure your going to have control to pull ads that are pissing people off.
I don’t know if this is the case now, but every story should carry email/contact addresses.
Remember that this is the beginning, you shouldn’t just be developing a the site for 6 months and then leaving it with the same features for years. It’s an organic process, you need a team of people working on the site that can say “X isn’t working, let’s try doing Y and get it online for feedback as soon as possible”.
It’s been an amazing week at The Post.
I feel I’ve learnt more about the web in the past seven days than I have in the past seven years, thanks to very large extent to the contributions Jo summarises here. Our challenge now is to take all of these and build a site and online service that meets our aspirations. We agreed in this afternoon’s meeting that Jo’s document will form the basis of our ‘statement of principles’ against which we’ll judge each site development; I’m sure there’ll be compromises along the way, but it’s a fantastic start!
We also discussed today the commercial side of the site (we are a plc, after all). I noticed many of the contributions made on this blog so far are mainly about content, functionality and user experience. What more can people say directly about how we ‘monetise’ the service, in the days of ad blockers and other challenges?
Marc Reeves, Birmingham Post editor
Marc: Off the top of my head some ways to monetise that won’t be affected by ad blockers (bearing in mind that only hardcore webheads use them – most of your readers, especially those coming from random Google searches, won’t be).
Keep the ads relevant and clean. Then they’re less likely to be blocked. (My personal rule is if it moves it goes.)
Text ads, ala Google Adsense. Dynamically relevant to your content, visually inoffensive, occasionally useful, rarely blocked. (You don’t have to use Google though.)
Affiliate schemes. Possibly not that lucrative but linking to online stores for related media can’t hurt. Also things like airlines. I understand the Lastminute.com affiliate scheme can be quite lucrative and you will have traffic coming from people looking to come here for NEC / ICC stuff.
Sponsored features. With care this could work. Sell your writers and platform for others to use. But make it clear what’s going on. I suspect you know how to do this from the print edition. A guide to the city for delegates at the XXX conference in association with ZZZ should be easy to monetise.
Get out there. While the likes of me will never see let alone click on your ads I will send people to you through my blogs who won’t be so jaded. Now multiply me a few hundred times. Now multiply that by the Google pagerank you get from being linked to by bloggers putting you higher in search results. Build a good relationship with the linkers and your search engine traffic will increase, and with that the number of people who’ll see your ads will increase.
I have no idea what the market for this is like but maybe producing bespoke content for businesses, either on their websites or in other digital areas? I suppose the point here is your content is digital and therefore doesn’t only have to appear on the website. It can go anywhere.
Further to this, look at all the possible platforms (mobile, etc). More platforms, more revenue opportunities.
I wouldn’t worry about ad-blockers. Remember that Pete had to find, download, install and configure this Firefox extension. Most people don’t have the time or know-how to set this up. Until it’s a default option in a major browser it’s not worth trying to combat it with trickery, we’ll win in the end anyway.
Affiliate stuff can be very lucrative, Ticketing, Flights can generate cash if you get enough traffic.
What you’ll need to get right is matching the story to the ads. That’s why things like tagging work so well, e.g. a story about new flights opening up at birmingham airport and you use the tags, “birmingham international, flights, routes” then you get your ad engine to search though all of your ads, it might throw up adverts to easyJet, lastminute, et al all very relevant for people ready a story about the airport.
Also, I’d ad there’s probably a market for local text link ads, I don’t really think it’s been explored before. Google can show you the most relevant ad, but there national. So going back to the first example, what about a local taxi company that does Airport transfers? a story about the airport would be perfect placement and it would get lots of clickthoughts because it’s more relavant.
If you can add value to the story with affiliates without affecting quality then you know it’s worth doing.
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