From a site visitor's perspective, good content management should be transparent. As the volume of content on a site increases, the challenge of managing it while maintaining a good user experience jumps exponentially. Few sites maintain that balance while consistently innovating like the <a href="http://NYTimes.com">New York Times Online</a>.

Peter Hagopian, Contributor

July 8, 2008

2 Min Read

From a site visitor's perspective, good content management should be transparent. As the volume of content on a site increases, the challenge of managing it while maintaining a good user experience jumps exponentially. Few sites maintain that balance while consistently innovating like the New York Times Online.Silicon Alley Insider had an interesting piece last week about what the future holds for the NYTimes.com. While it skims over some potentially compelling stuff -- like the fact that the Times is in the process of building a new content management system -- it does discuss a number of initiatives intended to improve user experience.

On the content front, it discusses new tools to help partners syndicate New York Times content, such as reviews, onto their own sites. The Times also plans to create widgets that will allow individuals to add stories and other content from the Times onto personal sites, such as blogs, Twitter feeds, and so on.

On the social/personalization side, they're creating "social overlay" tools that will add some social features to the site. The plan seems a bit vague at this point, but is something to keep an eye on. They also plan to add personalization that goes beyond their existing "My Times" features to allow users to have a bit more leeway in customizing certain parts of the site to their liking. The piece is a good read and has some thoughtful insights from Marc Frons, the chief technology officer of the New York Times' digital initiatives.

While we're on the topic of newspapers and their Web sites, I wanted to point out a post on 24/7 Wall Street that rates and reviews the top 25 newspaper Web sites. They grade each site from A to F, with the only "A" grades going to the San Francisco Chronicle site and the New York Times Online, which they call the "single best daily newspaper site in the country."

It also has some thought-provoking numbers on how the still-small portion of revenue from online initiatives fits into the bigger picture for newspaper publishing companies:

"Revenue is falling sharply based on a review of the numbers from publicly traded newspaper companies. The sole exception may be The New York Times Company, where online revenue is now well over 10% of the total. In April, NYT online ad revenue rose almost 26%."

Newspapers are a tough business, and both pieces are worth checking out for anyone with aspirations of running a successful, cutting-edge, content-driven site.

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