Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Guerilla QA: your site's search keywords as customer feedback

One of the key functional elements I'm working on for the redesign of my company's site is a tag cloud containing keywords people are entering into our internal search tool. As such, I'm flexing my JavaScript/CSS/XHTML/XMLHTTP savvy and Ajaxifying the UI, presenting everything as a nice tag cloud. So this means I'm tracking the terms people are entering to find stuff in our news archive.

And oh, the things you can learn from the data entered.

I've been reviewing several hundred such keywords entered over the last couple of hours, and I'm finding that people are trying to look content relative for navigation, credits, date-specific archives and more. This isn't the type of stuff that's really directly accessible from our Google-esque search tool, but this is great - free - feedback we can use for engineering our front-end.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Now I'm a "two-time" winner of the best regional news site award

I was stoked to learn that I (on behalf of my station) won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association. This is the second year in a row we've recieved the honor on behalf of small-market stations for Guam, Hawaii, Nevada and California.

That we're the smallest of those - about a market size of 155,000 people locally, with about 10% more than that number accessing us throughout the world - and have gotten the nod twice means a lot. We're also proud to not rely on vendor CMS software or solutions from third-parties, doing 99% of the development work in-house. Nearly everything we do is homegrown.

We've always staked our claim on well-written, weel-associated, properly-indexed textual stories, coupled with high-quality streaming media presentations of our newscasts and radio programming. But in 2004, our big push was performance, syndication, caching, and multiplatform access through SMS, e-mail, and WAP. In 2005, my main theme in distributing our news was audio/video podcasting, VOD, public APIs to access our headlines and exploring all sorts of ways to syndicate content through RSS/Atom.

I'm enjoying this for the moment and then getting back to work!

NYTimes.com makes it OK to go 1024

Conventions are best when set by major players. Most people doing large news sites stick with a layout strictly forcing a screen width of 800 pixels to accomodate smaller monitors. We typically compensate for the lack of horizontal space by forcing users to scroll vertically forever.

That having been said I dig the New York Times' new layout. They really explored the full width of a page. Nicely done, and maybe this'll open up opportunities for others.

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