It’s All Journalism is a weekly conversation about the changing state of the media and the future of journalism.
First Boston had the Big Dig; now the local NPR station, WBUR, is undergoing its own massive construction project.
WBUR’s Executive Editor for Digital Tiffany Campbell, fresh off a collaboration with Itâ€™s All Journalism at the Online News Association conference, said that â€œthe redesign,â€ as itâ€™s known internally, is at the â€œend of the beginningâ€ of what will be a lengthy overhaul of WBURâ€™s digital presence.
â€œI think weâ€™ve done something really special,â€ she said of the project, which began earlier this year. â€œWeâ€™re working on a beta version of our site right now that we hope to release to the public soon,â€ one that will still run WordPress on the backend but which will be geared to be â€œsuper-fast on mobile.â€
The experience for listeners has to be immersive, engaging and easy to use. The audio player on most newssites is not much more than a rectangular box tucked into a corner that couldâ€™ve otherwise been used for a story, Campbell said. It deserves a better design with more prominent, attractive placement.
â€œOur next big opportunity is on mobile,â€ she said. â€œWe want to be able to not just replicate the experience of a radio. We need to be that solid, for sure. â€¦ We want to bring the serendipity back into it,â€ and make listening to the station, whether online or off, as varied and rich as the environment for streaming music.
Roughly 60 percent of WBURâ€™s audience is mobile, but thereâ€™s still a strong group that listens to the station via their desktops. That means the station has to â€œdo everythingâ€ and upgrade the service available to all users, regardless of how they come by WBUR.
â€œIn some ways, itâ€™s very freeing. Designing for mobile is exciting in the sense that you get to pare down and think about how people use your product in a way we werenâ€™t really thinking about when we were building a site around text and images,” Campbell said.
Itâ€™s a similar challenge for websites centered heavily on video, she added, going from â€œa lot of boxesâ€ and trying to break out of that mode to incorporate new things.
Thereâ€™s also the challenge of making â€œsuper-fansâ€ happy while creating a welcoming website for â€œdrive-by traffic,â€ or listeners who arrive at the site from social media, Google or other avenues. Itâ€™s important to connect the new site with the stationâ€™s personality, connecting listeners with â€œwhat we do, what our model is or who we areâ€ without looking like â€œany other blog post on the Internet. â€¦ We want to make the same connection digitally that we do on the air.â€