Sometimes it’s found in the places least expected

My favorite website experience of 2008 is….believe it or not, the newly updated Wall Street Journal – Last year the site got a major overhaul, which it badly needed. In fact, tracking the older versions of the Wall Street Journal’s online experience shows how the world wide web has matured and how we all want (demand?) to get our information. At first they barely had a web experience. Then once they did, they required a subscription to get to anything worthwhile. Other papers moved ahead of them providing the full content of their papers online. And then so did everyone one else in the news business. With print waning I wondered if the old school, yet still relevant, WSJ would just eventually fade away into its place in history.

But, like most times, I was wrong. At last, in 2008 the WSJ jumped head first into the online game and leapfrogged many other news sources with their new site, reigning in 34 million readers a month, 2.2 million a day. For comparative purposes the print circulation is 1.876 million and largely comprised of US readers. How have they excelled online? Lots of ways, but for starters: it is easy to navigate, it is esthetically pleasing (to me), ads are tastefully done and presented in a very professional way. There is a massive amount of information, but the navigation is very manageable. It loads quickly. It provides video, audio and basically covers a topic from many angles including reader comments. I love that, in some cases, writers are adding video blogs about their stories. When I read something I want to pass along it is easy to post a story to Facebook or any other social tool. It is kept current throughout the day. And mostly it really comes off being a very “high end” site, for lack of a better word, which I am going to speculate resonates well with their target audience (typically well employed males 45 to 55 years of age). Of course the content itself is critical to the equation too, but beyond that, the presentation, usability and navigability is the best out there for a news source according to me.

I am impressed an old-line newspaper like this could advance their digital game so far, so quickly. I think they are leading the pack, and I think it is worth checking out for business news if you haven’t already.

So the next question is: did Rupert Murdoch drive this? If he is going after the New York Times, as he has stated, this may be a good way to get there.


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