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People’s needs change daily – so why don’t we?

Spending five days a week locked in a big glass-walled room with a dozen or so newspaper people arguing our future, you’re bound to learn something new every day.
Today it came from Melanie Hennessey, a reporter from the Milton Champion, who, as she was critiquing the Globe and Mail’s website this morning, (we were examining how well the big boys deliver early morning  breaking news – the verdict, not too well) pointed to the left sidebar on the page that contained a handful of very attractive lifestyle-type features or videos.
"I don’t like that. If I go to their website first thing in the morning, it’s not for the soft stuff. I want news. I might look at that stuff later, but in the morning I just want the news."
I was about to argue that not everyone has the same tastes, when something about her point snuck up and smacked me.
She’s probably dead right that most people’s news tastes go through some changes during the course of a day.
In the morning it’s all about what’s new – not what happened yesterday – but what happened since I last checked in. It’s all about what do I need to know NOW – maybe traffic conditions, weather, maybe remind me of a big event I need to jump online and buy tickets for.
By lunch I may be ready for a little something longer or maybe something that’s more fun, more diversionary. Hell, maybe even soft.
By the time I’m ready to head home I probably want some more NOW info – traffic, big event stuff and maybe a look ahead to tomorrow.
Here’s what smacked me — Why don’t we change, not just the content to meet those changing jobs folks want done, but the layout, the very look. This is not a static medium – why are our layouts rigid, static? Why don’t we have a serious, uncluttered, easy-to-navigate, no-nonsense look in the morning and then switch to something richer and more varied as the day goes on?
Our readers’ needs change with the hours – so why don’t we?
Bill Dunphy

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