I would like to share something about new media with you today — how a news website utilize its online presence, which I learnt from one of the lectures of the Missouri School of Journalism RJInnovation Week.

A team from the J-school analyzed the design of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website STLToday.com and its social network presence, and provided tips for them to attract more web traffic through both PC and mobile devices.

You know, more traffic = higher revenue to the media outlet nowadays.

Here are something I thought was very helpful and inspiring.

>> They want to reorganize the homepage of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Not removing any commercial advertisement or original content, they suggested the Patch just move things around to make it look more visual appealing, and help the Patch brand itself and optimize the user experience.

Like,

– Make the important news dominant

– Add more visual appealing elements like thumbnails instead of simple tabs.

>>They also pointed out the current subscription emails the Patch is sending to the readers are terribly-designed:

-red background with blue text

-images blocked by most users (which means waste of money)

Some suggestions:

-Navigation in the email is important. This can lead the readers to click on the headline to enter the website.

-Also, personalized emails will have higher chances to be read.

>> How to attract more traffic through social networks? The team told us:

…On facebook, it will be more effective if you

– post a question and give a link

– post some cartoon or picture related to the story

– post multimedia like video

– or post national stories

However, facebook may cause the participation rate on their real website lower because people don’t necessarily click that link to the website when they can read the key paragraphs and comment on the facebook.

…On Twitter, you can…

– set up multiple accounts for different niches/beats

– list the Twitter accounts of reporters who tweet about different topics

– list the readers’ favorite Twitter account/ most influential Twitter account

…On Pinterest

This is actually something new to me. It sounds like very similar to Tumblr, which I am using now. It features in its picture sharing function, and is 95% visual.

The team gave us the example of Wall Street Journal, who has done some cool things on Pinterest. They made full use of the archive by posting old front pages on one of their pin boards. They also interacted with the readers by asking readers to post pictures showing how their mornings start.

>> They also talked about paywalls, which is a more and more popular way for media to make money.

They suggest the paper to set up a soft paywall, which will allow readers read certain amount of articles a month, and gradually narrowing the limits, like the New York Times did.

>> Finally, they provided some good suggestion on making the paper’s daily scorecards easier to read.

They found the current scoreboard contains good info but are poorly-organized. They designed a mock-up which is more visually appealing and more focusing on the HELPFUL data.

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