I’ve learned two things over the last few months about launching a new Web site: Don’t do it unless you’re committed. The process promotes gray hair.
Last year, probably during the summer — it’s a blur now — a few of us at the paper got to thinking. That’s generally a dangerous undertaking, more so when the topic is technology, which we in the print medium have embraced like children embrace vaccinations — we’re told it’s good for us, it probably is, maybe, but damn.
The decision to give theind.com an overhaul — I would have said face lift, but that’s far too light a word; this is more akin to a lobotomy — grew from a mishmash of concerns: The Web site can and should be more user-friendly; it should encourage the user to explore and be engaged without getting lost; too little content is displayed on the home page; those drop down menus are infuriating; the staff isn’t sufficiently stressed out. And certainly not least of all is the realization that, our 20th century sentiments notwithstanding, some day in the not too distant future most print media will be mostly digital, and if we don’t begin moving in that direction, we’re screwed.
The caveat dangling like a modifier over this paradigm shift is that few newspapers have figured out how to make their digital component profitable. But figure it out we must. The Pandora’s Box — free content — was thrown open long ago, and I doubt even the mighty New York Times, which plans to begin charging for content soon, can close it.
At the new ind.com you’ll still see the print edition’s content on the home page: the cover story, lead news and Pooyie! in rotation at the top; the rest of the content is on the left rail under the header “Also This Week.” Below the cover story is the new and improved blogs section. Each header — INDreporter (politics and news), Acadiana Business, A&E, EATS (cooking, dining, drinking and restaurant news), INDextra (sports and anything else that needs a home) and What’s INDStore (yes, even our ad reps are now blogging) — links to zones on the site devoted exclusively to that specific type of content. The most recent blogs in those zones are displayed on the home page as well. Soon we’ll be bringing on more bloggers to add to and diversify our content, especially in EATS, which we all know is a central aspect of life in Lafayette.
Thanks go out to Chad Theriot and especially Blake Judice, our point men at CBM Technology, who led us through the process with patience, or who only cursed our technological ignorance when we weren’t in earshot. We didn’t know what a widget was and they didn’t know what a byline was, but somehow we bridged the communication gulf and arrived at a site we think is better.
It is a given, however, that no small number of you will not like it and will be happy to register your displeasure (and already have — the site went live last Thursday night). It is a significant change. One of the joys of my job is that I get notifications in my in-box every time someone posts a comment on our Web site — all the bile and bane. I’m sure by the time you’re reading this in print, I will have been adequately napalmed by the nabobs.
But we’re confident that most Ind readers will enjoy their experience. We won’t float ads across the screen or use pop-ups (not for now, anyway), or require a log-in for access to content. But we do want you to wander around theind.com, to explore and, especially, to join in the running dialogue about our community.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
St. Patty's Day crafts
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?