A Web site redesign is always fun--that is, until you show it to readers.
If you feel excluded, don't. In our first experiment of this kind, we intended to expose the redesigned site to only 1 percent of our readers, selected at random. But because bloggers and others pointed to it, the actual number ended up around 15 percent. The experiment was well worth it and my sincerest thanks to all of you who wrote in. The responses showed you care about what we do, and your passionate feedback helped us make many improvements that you see on this live site. Of course, I am sure (and am hopeful) that many, many more of you will write in with additional comments.
Here's a sample of pro and con responses:
"I'm still in shock for what I'm seeing in your Beta. Beautiful! Everything is there, at the click of your mouse. (I am) very satisfied with your innovation. With this you have dwarfed the competition. Wow!"
"Why change something we are already used to? Change simply for the sake of change is unnecessary." (The more common refrain from readers of this ilk was "it sucks.")
The good news is that, when we asked these people to specify what they disliked, they invariably responded with detailed thoughts and suggestions. And as noted above, we have heard you loud and clear.
Interestingly, not many remarked on the editorial direction of the site--which is a good thing, because it means that our transition from "Tech News First" to "News of Change" is not much of a surprise. This reflects the evolution of the news we report: Rather than cover technology simply as computing, for example, we now delve into the myriad changes that it has effected in business, law, politics and culture. I do want to underscore one important point: We are broadening our focus and tech coverage, and we will do so with the same relentless pursuit to be the first with big, breaking stories such as this one.
Technology today is all-pervasive. Increasingly, there's a blurring of lines between what is called "enterprise" computing, or business technology, and the consumer world outside work. Today, everything is interconnected on the same technological "platform" that is the Internet, personally or professionally.
Even corporate computing leaders recognize this shift, as described by Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz: "There's no single definition of 'user' that encompasses the diversity of constituencies we serve, or our means of doing so. From 12-year-old girls to system administrators to CIOs to naval officers to sell-side analysts, Sun's audiences are as diverse as those watching TV or listening to the radio."
But rest assured that amid all the editorial, technical and cosmetic changes to News.com, there is no change in our unwavering commitment to our guiding principle: providing you with credible and timely news.
The visual changes you can already see. We decided to go to a wider format because a large majority of you already have 1024x768 screen settings. Although we want to take advantage of this larger real estate to showcase more content, we also recognize that some of you may choose to have your browser open in smaller windows and may find the width a bit unfriendly. And we are going to disappoint some of you because your PC won't allow for higher resolution, but we beg your indulgence in our effort to serve the majority.
The primary theme behind our redesign was to make it about "editors, readers and me." Under the umbrella of "Top Headlines," "Readers' Choice" and "My News," you will continue to find our award-winning editorial content, what other readers read and discuss, and the news that you choose to read, from us and elsewhere on the Web.
This theme continues on story pages as well. We are also excited about introducing two innovative visual editorial tools: "The Big Picture" and "What's Hot." The "Big Picture" provides depth to each story by giving readers the ability to navigate from the article they are reading to related stories, topics or companies. This feature is made possible thanks to the effort put in by individual reporters and editors who take great pain to select the most relevant and related news items to the new story. "What's Hot" uses reader popularity, timeliness and editorial judgment as its guide to provide readers with a graphic display of what's important on News.com at any given moment.
Judging from the feedback we have received, we know that readers so far either love them or hate them; I can't wait to get your thoughts. But before you start writing in, please understand that we are letting you choose other, more "traditional" news options.
Finally, we are debuting News.com's Blog 100--a selection of blogs our editors and our readers found to be most interesting. This index is the latest feature added to our growing list of third-party content that is filtered by our editors, not by "bots." As many of you may know, News.com pioneered the concept of pointing "out" to other people's content when we introduced "More News Around the Web" with our initial launch back in 1996. Since then, we have continued to build on this concept, using our editorial judgment to separate the signal from the noise. To that end, in the past year alone, we have introduced such features as "News Extra," "News.Blog," "Newsburst" and "Blogma."
There's more, of course, as you'll see--and please tell me what you think along the way.