Post newspaper launches interactive, intuitive site
August 30, 2010
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Visitors to the Hawaii Army Weekly's website may have noticed something strange this past week: the site isn't where it used to be anymore.
The HAW moved its official website from being hosted on the Army's military server to a commercial site, <a href="http://www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com">www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com</a>.
"We wanted to move the newspaper to a commercial domain because we knew it would be the best way to give readers what they've come to expect and deserve from an online newspaper," said Aiko Brum, chief, Internal Communication, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs.
The site, paid for by the HAW's contract publisher, is powered by Squarespace, a content management system. Squarespace has a variety of integrated tools, making it easy for readers to comment on, share and receive content.
The built-in infrastructure makes it easier to post articles, manage archives and keep up with modern Web design standards, without the need for advanced technical training.
The site allows newspaper staff to upload content 24 hours a day, seven days a week, versus just once a week. Content that can't run in the printed version, due to time constraints or other issues, can be uploaded online.
"Since the HAW is published weekly, we're limited on space and time," explained Lacey Justinger, editor, Hawaii Army Weekly. "If a unit doesn't get an article to the paper in time for production deadlines, now we can still get the Army's story out to the public by uploading it online instead of just turning the story down."
News junkies can even catch a sneak peak of the paper each week, up to a full day before the printed version is out.
Due to the production schedule, the paper is completed and sent to the printer on Thursdays, even though delivery doesn't happen until Fridays.
In contrast, online content is typically available by Thursday afternoons.
Of all of the features the new site affords the HAW, the most requested one is being able to subscribe to the newspaper's content via extensible markup language, or XML, feeds.
XML feeds are a protocol for subscribing to and distributing feeds that notify people of new entries on news sites, blogs, podcasts or other online information sources.
Using feeds allows users to view content from websites without actually having to visit the site.
Readers can subscribe to the entire "Hawaii Army Weekly" or specific topics via either Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, or ATOM feeds.
Most Internet browsers now have reader software built in, but users can also use third-party services such as Google Reader or My Yahoo.
Typically, the feeds are displayed as a series of headlines and brief summaries with links to the source of the full text.
In the past, if people wanted to comment on an article or discuss an issue, they would have to send an e-mail or letter to the editor.
On <a href="http://www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com">www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com</a>, though, readers can post comments, reply to other people's posts and interact directly and instantly with the newspaper staff and other readers.
In addition to being able to interact like never before, readers can now easily share articles with others by adding it to sites such as Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon, or they can add a link to their own Facebook or MySpace pages.
The new site makes finding content easier. In addition to searching by terms, readers can also find content based on tags and categories that group similar content together.
Even though the newspaper's former website is no longer up and running, the archives are still online and available for readers to find content published prior to February 2010.
Full issues viewed in portable document format, or PDF, files are still available too.
Have suggestions for the new site or can't find something' Call 808-656-3153 or e-mail email@example.com.
Check out the new site at <a href="http://www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com">www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com</a>. Do you tweet' Follow the HAW at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/hawaiiarmywkly">www.twitter.com/hawaiiarmywkly</a>.
<i>(Editor's Note: Rush is the digital media specialist at USAG-HI Public Affairs.)</i>