Quick thoughts on the Belfast Telegraph – People buy bottled water

I was asked to put together a few thoughts about the Belfast Telegraph’s web site. It was the quickest of quick reviews, and confidentiallity was not requested so as journos once said “Published and be Damned”.

People buy bottled water.

If information on the internet is free – like water from a tap – then at some point, newspapers will need to have the equivalent of bottled water. The most likely paid for content will be business information. So the Belfast Telegraph’s strategy of developing business information (perhaps later to hive off as premier content) is probably the correct strategy.

The information needs to be unique – or at least presented in an easy, timely and accurate; but preferably unique. So let’s start with ease of getting the information. I don’t want to have to go th belfasttelegraph.co.uk to see what’s new there. I want it to be sent to me – so RSS feeds, good.

But I want it accessible where ever I am – is there a mobile/iphone/cutdown version for simpler wireless devices? I can’t see it. Think Business News on Kindle. Avantgo http://www.avantgo.com/frontdoor/index_uk.html hasn’t really become common, it was probably too early, but there is something to build on. I can’t see a Belfast Telegraph channel for Avantgo.com So I’m busy bit not at my computer – can I get the Belfast Telegraph?

Quick word on finding stuff: There is a hell of a lot on a page – looks good – but can I reorder that as relevant to me, please? No? Well can to do something with the navigation to make the good stuff rise to the top? Better still can you put in a voting system, so the “crowd” can do that? The “new” tag is no help, really. “New” is a relative concept; “New to what?” I ask. I can Digg and Facebook and Stumbleupon and delicious the story – but I want to rank it, too please. And when I’m signed in (can I sign in – I’d like to sign in – that would make commenting easier) … when I sign in, can I put a story into my own personal archive, so I can check back later and compare.

Quick word on Content: Company Profiles: Transport, haulage, construction, older established industries. I have zero interest in these and very disappointed to see nothing on new and emerging industries based on technology, knowledge and creativity. “I’m interested in investing in these industries”, says a foreign direct investor. “Where is the knowledge industry in Northern Ireland?” And I make this point because one of the crucial areas for development ofr BelTelBusiness is readers abroad.

Why does it all have to be text. The TV on the telegraph was worth trying, but was not a good move. If you are going to serve video, then make it something I can’t get in text in the BelTel or on BBC/ITV. Also I’m a slave to the static PC – “I’m a business man, busy and on the move – give me something I can take with me.” Get ahead of the curve – start servig poscasts that are unque to the BelTel and address an audience with the depth a Newspsper can give but a web page can’t.

Finally – use social media – use it now and you won’t have to play catch-up later.
Finally Finally – do all this now! Then teach Independent News Group how to do it – it’s the only route to survival.

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