When you stop and think about it, we do a lot of stuff. Matt Westerhold likes to point out that we put out a full-length book every day. And that's just the printed newspaper!
We do all this stuff because it's all valuable, but any individual really only cares about 10% of it. But for each person it's a different 10% of course. So how do you get people to the stuff they want, and not to all the stuff they don't?
In the paper it was easy. You just stick it in there somewhere and people will find it eventually, right? Okay, it's definitely more complicated than that, but it's different on a website. There's many ways sites aren't really very different than printed products, no matter what the hype is, but this isn't one of them, I don't think.
Right now, we have newspaper sites co-branded with our two main print products, an entertainment site and tab with its own brand, and a sports site and tab with its own brand. We're going to improve all our classified verticals and our directory, and that could mean another site. Or sites. And we're working on another site to house hyperlocal subsites. And we're seeking to make all this work as simply as possible for advertisers, so we have started treating all those sites as a network.
And that's just the next six months.
Of course, we're not sure that this is the best way to break it all up. Do we want a single sprawling site? A portal like a local aol/yahoo? Or do we want to atomize it as much as possible and have dozens and dozens of sites for every little thing? The trend seems to be toward sites that do one thing as opposed to lots...
Obviously part of the solution can be Netflix/Amazon style recommendation engines and that is somewhere we want to go, but I think it's a branding/marketing and information architecture problem first. To rely on an algorithm is just lazy and sloppy, in my opinion, and I want to build on a better foundation.
So for those of you who don't spend most of your time thinking about websites, what makes sense? I'm fully willing to believe I'm overthinking it...