Whether you love it or love to hate it, the New York Times is the king of digital journalism for a simple reason: it’s always innovating. Beyond making “snowfall” a verb, the so-called Gray Lady has in recent months overhauled its website, introduced new revenue streams, produced a viral video based verbatim on a deposition, bought its own native ads, launched an explainer microsite, and built a suite of apps.
These bells and whistles aren’t just pretty ornaments for a press release, but enlightening enhancements for the everyday user. Indeed, there’s something for every audience: the designer, the stockholder, the videographer, the advertiser, the reporter, and the reader on the go.
For the social media strategist, the paper’s most significant innovation is a tiny tactic that makes stories easier to tweet. Often overlooked, this trick ought to be standard practice on every major website today. Let’s take a look.
When creating their company website, many small businesses defer to their “web guy” on the address. “Oh, JanesFlowers.com isn’t available? Ok, JanesFlowers2.com is fine.”
No! No! No! While seemingly trivial, your URL is in fact critical. Don’t let it be an afterthought; make this decision an integral facet of your planning and branding.
After all, not only will your domain be printed on your business cards and in your email signatures. You’ll also need to pronounce it in a way that leaves no room for confusion.
Consider a few case studies.
Congratulations to Citizens Against Government Waste, which recently launched a blog, Swineline. Unfortunately, Swineline suffers from the same irritant that afflicts the blogs of the Cato Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Project on Government Oversight: It resides on a domain independent of the host organization (e.g., www.swineline.org instead of www.cagw.org/blog).
To me, this is myopic and counterproductive. Why build and drive people to an entirely new site when, by integrating the blog into your already developed site, you can centralize your traffic?