New site is the next step

Published 7:53 am Friday, July 30, 2010

The Herald got its first news web site about 15 years ago. I remember, quite clearly, that my boss at the time was not happy I was investing time and money in something that didn’t seem to have much promise.

I was a good bit younger then, but still wise enough not to come out and say, “you’re wrong,” to my boss. Instead, we quietly went ahead with the project, since I hadn’t quite been told to cease and desist.

It is hard to believe now, looking back, that we could launch a newspaper web site and be fairly confident that it would escape attention (thus helping me not get fired). But it was a different era, a time when we still talked about the World Wide Web, using all three words and most definitely pronouncing it with capital W’s.

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It was also a time when we didn’t track page views or unique visitors, not just because we didn’t know how, but because we had never heard the terms.

Producing news in digital formats (another phrase we hadn’t heard 15 years ago) was optional, and a lot of smaller newspapers weren’t doing it.

Now any news organization that isn’t online, doesn’t have a mobile edition, doesn’t send out daily e-mail news updates and doesn’t do a whole host of other digital stuff is so far behind the times that it’s not even visible in the rearview mirror.

And unlike NASCAR, which puts limits on technology to keep speeds down, the race to innovate and adopt new technology for communication is wide open.

Keeping up means not only getting on board with new ideas, but also keeping the older technologies fresh.

It’s to that end that the Herald today introduced a new version of its web site. This is about the fifth generation, since we started back in the 1990s, and it’s by far the best yet.

As I looked over the new site on Thursday, I was struck by how far we have come since those early efforts in the 1990s. Not only is the technology better and faster, but the audience is much bigger; in a recent survey, we found that a third of the Austin market’s residents turn to the Herald’s web site for news.

If you aren’t among those who are regular readers of the Herald’s on-line edition, take a look at in the next few days. You’ll find it is cleaner-looking and easier to use than the version we introduced a couple of years ago. The goal was to make it easier for users to find the news they seek. It’s also a platform that will let us introduce new features on a regular basis, without having to do major revisions.

Users will be asked to register before posting comments; it wasn’t possible to transfer registrations from the old site to the new one.

If you’re a regular visitor to, you’ll find it an improvement. If you’re new to the site, we hope you will like it.

Dave Churchill is the publisher

of the Austin Daily Herald