Nothing consistently drives readership on roanoke.com more than breaking news.
For instance, our story on Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell’s arrest in December got more than 10,000 pageviews within the first few hours it was on the site.
So, one of our primary goals with the site redesign, is figuring out the smartest way to display those stories.
One commenter on an earlier RefreshRT post offered this opinion: “The breaking news box should be more attention grabbing. It’s a bit small and sandwiched between the calendar and “check this out!” box.”
That’s where our breaking stories first appear and the headline can get lost up in the header. Then, after about five minutes, the page updates and moves a headline link to those breaking stories to the top of our “Today’s News” story list on the page.
We recognize it’s not the best system, and we’re looking forward to the redesign providing us with multiple new options for quickly posting new content on roanoke.com.
A few questions we are already considering, and we’d love your thoughts on:
– Do we even need to use the red “Breaking news” tag next to the story?
– Should we instead simply time stamp each story when it is posted or updated?
– What are the best ways to more clearly differentiate between a high-interest, important breaking story — a police officer getting shot on Virginia Tech’s campus, for instance — and more routine news that we post multiple times a day. Bigger headlines and larger photos are good options, of course, but there are many ways those can be designed.
– What news sites do you visit frequently for breaking news?
– What do they offer that’s better than what we’re doing now?
I’m eager to hear your thoughts.
Of course, our digital strategy for covering breaking news goes far beyond simply posting stories and waiting for you to come find them. In a post on Wednesday I’ll talk about how we use text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other social tools to connect with you.