In order to meet the needs of our digital readers, our news website, auburnpub.com, has gone through several redesigns over the years.
Each new roll-out of a new look was aimed at adapting to trends in online news consumption. We started out more than 15 years ago with a text-heavy site that included a tiny sampling of the content our staff produced. About a half dozen major makeovers have ensued, as we've added exponentially more stories and advertisements, photo galleries, video, social media integration, digital subscription services, podcasts and interactive elements.
I've been here for most of those new designs, and each resulted in an improved reader experience, and thankfully, significantly higher traffic to the website.
Now we're getting ready to unveil another new look, and we're excited about its potential to improve the visitor experience. What makes this redesign unique from all others we've done in the past is the platform around which it is based. Until now, our websites have been built with the computer desktop experience as the foundation, and then we've looked for ways to tweak that design to make it friendly for readers using smartphones and tablets.
This redesign, which has been developed by our Lee Enterprises corporate digital team for all of our company's newspapers, is based on a mobile-first premise. Desktop readers will also enjoy a cleaner, more user-friendly experience, but the biggest improvements will be seen by the smartphone and tablet readers.
Why the change? It's simple. Because that's what you're telling us to do with your reading habits.
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Over the past decade, there have been two clear trends for our website's traffic. One is that it has grown tremendously. An average month today is something we would have been cheering about three years ago, and a decade ago we couldn't have even fathomed such a large audience.
The other trend has been a steady shift in the types of devices readers use to get our content. Mobile technology is now the dominant platform, and in order to hold onto our readers and add more, we need to be focused on that experience.
As a result, the new design allows for much faster downloading of pages and easier scrolling through content. Instead of five large photo blocks with stories at the top, you'll see one main story at the top with a big image, and that story will change throughout the day. Right below will be a a healthy dose of the latest and biggest headlines of the day, followed by topical content blocks, galleries and national content.
One of the most user-friendly changes, at least in my mind, will be apparent when you tap on a headline to read. As you get to the bottom of that story, video or gallery, you'll see a mini-version of the homepage offering an abundance of other fresh content to check out. That means you don't have to mess around with the back button, or going through a menu, or swiping left or right to browse around. Those features remain for those who like them, but the data suggests many of us don't, especially when you're reading on a smaller screen.
The changes are scheduled to go live on Tuesday, June 13. As with anything new, there will be some adjusting, and any of us in the newsroom will be glad to help you find your way around. Give us a ring, shoot us an email, tweet at us or stop down.
We also want to know your thoughts and suggestions. Anything new is prone to have a bug or two, and we also will be tweaking where content blocks are placed and making other small changes based on how readers behave.