Week 1 of website redesign reveals strengths, issues

karen.peterson@thenewstribune.comJuly 28, 2013 

One week into the launch of our new website design, reader feedback was running more positive than negative.

As of Thursday, 53 readers had left messages saying they liked the new look; 34 said they didn’t like it. Another 45 asked for help to find a section or feature.

Human nature dictates that more people write to complain than to compliment, so we consider that relatively good news. We also find that personal preference plays a big role in how a person relates to a redesign.

That’s how we get feedback that runs from: “I really enjoy the new layout! It is much easier on the eyes, much better access to stories and much better organized,” and “Your new site design works well. More logical navigation. It’s easier and more pleasant to wander around and get what’s happening.”

To: “I thought the last one was bad. This one looks like a kindergarten class designed it,” and “This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen a major newpaper (sic) do! People won’t be able to find their favorite areas to read. Why did you do such a dumb change? Change it back the way it was!!!”

Most helpful were the questions and suggestions.

A number of people had trouble finding the obituaries and the contests, which had more direct links on our old homepage. Simplifying the site meant eliminating some of those buttons. Readers now click on the “News” tab to get to the obituaries. But we had made the contests even harder to find, so we added a section for them under the “Local deals” tab.

Other readers dislike that the same story sometimes appears more than once on the site. In our new system, when we post a story about the Seahawks, for instance, it automatically rolls up into the general Sports section. If it’s important enough, it also appears at the top of the homepage. Readers enter our website at many different points, and we want to be sure all of them see the story, so we won’t be changing that.

We’re publishing no fewer stories, but more of them appear in each of the subsections — news, business, living, sports — which are better organized than before.

We also moved the button that takes people to the digital replica of the newspaper from the top of the homepage to the bottom. That version — which allows people to leaf through pages that look exactly like today’s print paper — is called our “E-edition.” Some people had difficulty finding the new link.

We are trying to fix a glitch that is cutting off the bottom of some close-up photos of people’s faces. And we’re trying to find a more prominent display for our columnists.

Your feedback helps us to fine-tune the site. We thank you for it.

LONGTIME EDUCATION COORDINATOR RETIRES

Jim Henderson, coordinator of our Newspapers in Education program and a great ambassador of The News Tribune, retired last week.

For the last 12 of his 17 years at the TNT, Henderson ran the program that provides newspapers to local schools. The program currently distributes about 1.2 million copies (mostly in electronic form) to about 250 classroom teachers. It also provides teaching materials to help them incorporate our papers into their lesson plans.

“Jim was instrumental in making the newspaper an important part of thousands of young peoples’ lives and promoting literacy in our communities,” said Phil Schroder, TNT director of audience development and Henderson’s boss. “His many contributions over the years are appreciated, and he will be greatly missed.”

Brett Wifall will take over the program. For more information about it, contact him at brett.wifall@thenewstribune.com.

ONLINE VOTER GUIDE

If you haven’t filled out your ballot yet for the Aug. 6 primary, check out our online primary election voter guide. You’ll find it at thenewstribune.com/elections.

Simply enter your address on the first screen to get a ballot of the races in your area. The program displays information about candidates side-by-side, along with their answers to our questions.

If you like, you can make selections and print out a ballot with all of your choices. You can even share your choices with the world by posting them on Facebook or Twitter.

Your ballot must be postmarked or dropped in a county drop box by Election Day.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434 karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com

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