*

Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.

Opinion

New website designed to better serve readers

If you're reading this column in print, be sure to go online or, better yet, check out semissourian.com on your smartphone. What you'll see is a big change from what semissourian.com has looked like in the past. Led by editor Bob Miller, webmaster James Baughn and a team at rustmedia, the site has been redesigned to better service how people access digital content today -- and for how they are predicted to access it in the future.

Semissourian.com is now dynamically responsive to screen size, making it work and look awesome on mobile phones and tablets. Outstanding local photography, which was sometimes buried in the prior version of the site, is now showcased. And, the overall design is prepped for better integration with video.

To get a sense of the new, dynamic nature of the site, if you go online, simply change the width of your browser and see what happens.

For several years, rustmedia has been building websites for companies across the country with this kind of responsive design. Implementing it for semissourian.com (and the dozens of other Rust newspapers) was a more complicated project, because we publish hundreds of pages and maintain thousands of stories and individual content areas daily. Finally, after more than a year of design, and several weeks of focus groups, today, the site has been launched.

We're not expecting everyone to love the new design right off the bat. We understand we've "moved the cheese" for thousands of people who were familiar with how the old site was organized. And, we're not done tweaking. We also welcome feedback on where we can improve.

But I'm excited for our team, which has worked hard to upgrade the user experience for those who access our content digitally, especially on mobile devices. In fact, late last year, the scales tipped with how most people access semissourian.com. In December, 47 percent accessed on smartphone; 12 percent on tablet; and 41 percent on desktop. In other words: 59 percent of users are now getting content via mobile. That underlines how important phone traffic is to what we do. And, it provides a message to all of you who have company web sites that are not optimized for mobile: you need to contact the Southeast Missourian or rustmedia for how we can help you adapt.

Of course, another exciting development of our new site is that it optimizes advertising for whatever screen being used. We are also launching new kinds of ad units, specifically designed for mobile.

In 2014, the Southeast Missourian was recognized by the Local Media Association, which represents more than 2,400 newspapers and websites, as the second-best print newspaper in the United States and Canada for communities our size. In 2015, we received honorable mention, putting us number 4. To be recognized this high two years in a row is remarkable. One of the reasons the Southeast Missourian gains such recognitions is that its staff continues to innovate and try new things, all with the goal of better servicing its readers.

We hope you like these changes with the web site. We also understand that if you're a desktop user, it might take you a while to get used to some of them. If you have specific suggestions (or other comments), don't hesitate to drop me or editor Bob Miller a line: jrust@semissourian.com; bmiller@semissourian.com. We want to hear your feedback.

And, remember, if you have a print subscription to the Southeast Missourian, you already have full access to online and mobile products at no additional charge. All you have to do is register. And you can do that by going to semissourian.com and clicking on "Customer Service" in the pulldown menu on the top left. Or by calling our circulation department: (573) 334-7115.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.

Comments