Our website, adn.com, gets a makeover this week -- one we believe readers will find visually pleasing and easier to use. The changes, though, are more than cosmetic. In addition to a cleaner look, pages will load faster, it will be easier for readers to find what they're looking for and the site will be built on a new platform that enables us to incorporate new technology and enhance the site's features quickly and well into the future.
For more than 60 years, the Daily News has put ink on paper and delivered the news to Alaskans. While some people have questioned whether newspapers can survive -- much less thrive -- in the Internet age, we see a growing audience of print and digital readers. In fact, this week more than 230,000 Southcentral Alaskans will read the Daily News in print or some digital form. No other news organization in Alaska comes close to that reach. We're proud of that.
One of the biggest challenges these days is keeping up with all the ways readers expect to have news and information delivered. There's the printed paper, of course, but also computers, smart phones and digital tablets -- with browsers, text, email and apps. We deliver news and interact with readers on Facebook and Twitter. Our readers can now subscribe to a hybrid "e-edition," a version of the printed paper delivered electronically and viewable on computers and tablets. The number of readers getting our news on their phones is growing every day.
The centerpiece of all our digital efforts is adn.com, the most complete and best- read news website in Alaska. If that's true, you might ask, why change it? Several reasons:
1. Constant change and evolution are simply a fact of life on the Internet. Technology and user behavior keep changing, so if we want to maintain today's success, we must do things differently and better tomorrow.
2. Increase the amount of news and features on the site, and offer more fresh stories throughout the day.
3. Make our popular photo galleries easier to use. For the first time, viewers will be able to comment on galleries. And photos will be more easily viewable on mobile Apple devices.
4. Make sharing content -- from our 27 sister papers, Washington bureau and foreign correspondents, Associated Press, or any of the dozens of content services to which we subscribe -- faster and easier for editors to deliver.
5. Include a better search tool.
6. Allow technical support, much of which is done remotely, to be simpler and faster.
7. Provide better tools to secure the website and host servers from hackers, and protect the privacy of online users.
8. Be a more effective environment for advertising customers. (That's a good thing -- advertisers pay most of the cost of buying or creating our content.)
9. Gain the McClatchy company the ability to sell advertising across all 28 of its daily newspaper websites, or smaller groups of websites. That improves the economics of the online news business and helps underwrite the gathering of news. As soon as the site is re-launched, we want our readers to check it out. We hope you'll spend time on it, see what you like and don't like, and tell us what you think. A lot of time and thought has gone into the design and technology, but that doesn't mean you won't see something that could be better. We'll have a form online for your feedback, and I will read every single comment.
Our entire staff is excited about employing these new tools to bring you Alaska's best package of online news and information.
Let us know what you think.
Patrick Dougherty is the executive editor of the Daily News. He has worked at the paper for 32 years.