A few months ago, we announced that Voice of San Diego was going to go through a re-launch and re-organization.
Monday, exactly 10 years after this website first went live, we’re releasing the new website.
But the broader re-organization we put in motion is also taking hold.
First, the website: What do you think? Have some patience as we work out the bugs. But go ahead and tell me anything, here in the comments or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re not stopping here, it’s just the new place from which we’re going to build and improve again.
As I told some folks we were doing this, a few had the same response: Again?
Not quite two years ago, for a small investment, we were able to make a switch to a new content management system. It wasn’t perfect.
Imagine we were on a ship and we weren’t pleased with where it could take us. We had to gather all our belongings and jump to a new ship — a bigger, better ship that could take us a lot farther.
The jump was hard, and we dropped some things in the water, but we could now dream about where we wanted to go.
This new website is the first step toward that dream. As painful as the last switch was, it opened up the future for us.
Why do this? Put simply, Voice of San Diego has to grow and reach more people. When someone happens by our site, we need to sign them up, or engage them in other stories much better than we do now.
The internet today is a racetrack. Lots of big publishers and platforms are racing around the track on Indy cars. We’re trying to manage it on a scooter. No, we don’t compete with Business Insider or the Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, necessarily, but we have to be able to make sure our content is as easy to share and see as theirs is.
We have to keep up.
Above all, the new site is built to invite people to sign up for products like our Morning Report. When we do a story that attracts many readers, we are going to do a better job of inviting them to stay longer.
This will help you understand the homepage — voiceofsandiego.org — design.
Many people are not going to homepages anymore. They are getting emails, Facebook posts or tweets with links in them and they’re going directly to those stories without ever seeing the front page of a website.
That’s why we turned our front page into a kind of poster. It’s a large invitation to peruse the content, yes, but it’s also meant to persuade new visitors to register with this service so we can serve them the best stories and experience possible.
You’ll be able to follow certain storylines and be notified not only on the site, but in emails when those stories have updates.
Members, who power this organization, will also see some new features soon.
We’ll be talking in more depth about each one of the new features when things settle down.
Finally, the website is just one part of a bigger change happening at Voice of San Diego.
We’re now planning our work much differently. Rather than just doing the best we can each day, we’re organizing our stories for each week further out in advance.
Each week for us is now a kind of show. Each day is a segment of that show. This week, for instance, you’ll notice a dominant story. But there are several others running as well. It’s much like how “60 Minutes” might have a major story for a week and two smaller stories. Each week we are sitting down — on Wednesday — and analyzing what stories our reporters have developed. Then we’re deciding what is still needed and how to program the weeks that are approaching.
As I told the staff at our holiday party, the changes have one purpose: to make sure we’re always getting that feeling.
What is that feeling? Journalists everywhere know it. It’s when you do a story that you know is good. It’s when you are walking the dog after publishing something and you feel an exhilaration knowing that the story is having an impact, getting people talking and making others think.
When reporters have that feeling about a story, readers will notice. They’re going to be focused on impact and on writing stories with what we’re calling legacy: a lasting impression.
We don’t want our writers to ever be working on something that they don’t think is going to give them and their readers that feeling.
The best way we could find to ensure that was to make sure we planned further out in advance so that they never just had to grab the easiest story they could find.
Stay tuned, I think it’s going to work.