Friday, March 09, 2012

By the numbers | Site relaunch progress report

days since Corporate announced plans to relaunch all the news websites, starting with USA Today's.


  1. Twitter was conceived and made available to the public in 116 days.

  2. USA Today evolved something like this:

    1. It launched in 1982 as a print paper that emphasized concise reporting and writing with a heavy dose of full-color graphics and photography.

    2. In the mid-1990s, it then became a website that largely mirrored the format of the print paper: four dominant sections, arranged by topic: news, money, features, sports.

    3. Around four years ago, the website next formed the basis of a series of apps for smartphones and then tablets. Again, these apps hewed to the basic four-section structure.

    Now, what if all that was done in reverse? What if David Payne & Co. started from scratch with a cutting-edge app for delivering news, information and advertising?

    Then it gets reverse-engineered. The app is turned "back" into a website, and the site is then turned back into a print paper.

    Would that process produce a more novel result?

  3. In the time I was at Gannett, I was so frustrated by the way corporate works...slow, tons of meetings, tons of approval layers. It's worst than the federal government.

    Digital companies cannot move this slow.

  4. The new USA TODAY iPhone app is really nice. Hope they come out with something similar for all the sites

  5. 12:14 nailed it: "Digital companies cannot move this slow."

    That really says it all. I've been at my property for a number of years and have watched the time to launch new initiatives continue to drag on. Everything is meeting'ed and analyzed to death and while that is happening other new projects pop up that have a higher priority. The original hot project then takes a backseat to the latest ones and in some cases, either never are completed, never approved or they just fall into a black hole.

    Unless we can react quickly to new ideas we will never be on the leading edge as somebody else that is more nimble will get there before we do.

  6. Gannett execs talk a good game in pitching the company's digital assets to Wall Street, but problems like these show that Gannett isn't close to where it needs to be technologicaly. Think, too, about the fiasco, the horrible rollouts of the content management systems for websites and video years ago and the current CCI fiasco, among others. Now, we have this. The company looks more like the Keystone Cops than like Twitter.

  7. The F-6 Hellcat, the fighter that won the war in the Pacific, went from conception to production in nine months, sorry, I'm a history buff.

  8. A few months ago I went to a small-business expo and spoke to the Courier-Post reps about their digital presence, asking if a Kindle or other e-reader subscription was available, and they laughed, asking why I wanted to pay for it when I could just "go online and read it for free". They didn't bother to direct me to the online site, they didn't offer any other explanations, they didn't even ask if I was interested in advertising, just offered to let me play some stupid Deal Chicken game for a free notepad.
    This, just a few rows away from the Philadelphia Inquirer booth, which had people pushing their tablet subscriptions, offering discounts, and even having lots of tablets there for people to try.
    "Digital companies cannot move this slow." Or this stupidly.

  9. A's hire A's.
    B's hire C's.

    D's run Gannett.

  10. Hunke is an empty suit who hires other empty suits. Zero + zero = zero.

    The big plan is RIF, especially all the ollder, higher paid veterans who HUnke can't get over complaining about.
    He actually thinks cheap, young labor will produce and notice the kind of content the big league rivals do consistently. Oh well. He collects his fat salary and bonus and hell be off to Willy Wonkaville soon enough.

    Such a legacy you're establishing, Dave.

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  12. Yea, and Tom, Craig, Cathie and Al before you. What have you done. Nothing like the rest of them. All zeros.

  13. 5:41 Make that rich zeroes. They looked out for #1.

  14. And throw in most of the USCP EE's in that sorry lot too. You can tell how much contempt they have for their staffs by how many spelling and grammatical errors are in their nastygrams.

  15. I am sick and tired of USAT's throwing sh-t at the wall and seeing what sticks approach to everything, including the countless website redesigns. But this is what you get when you have leadership that is flawed (as human beings as well as professionally) and staffers who are more worried about holding onto their jobs than they are their work. Also contributing to the host of problems: The lack of tolerance for anyone who goes against the grain. That has been an cancerous issue before there even was a website. USAT is a total disaster, plain and simple.

  16. The senior management at Gannett knows how screwed up everything is at USAToday. Why do you think they are trying "anything" to see what might work.


  17. 3:14, you are correct. I've followed the product Day One. I never expected perfection, but now? Who buys the thing? And those do, what have they learned? Not much.

  18. When I worked for a Gannett paper, I came up with a small idea to tweak one of the paper's daily graphics. Not a major tweak, just a small design thing that would make it more readable for the readers and easier for the designer to make.

    It took seven years to get implemented.


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