You Spoke, We Listened
We live in a new society where businesses have unprecedented opportunities to communicate with their customer base. In real time, we can listen to the concerns of our audience and actually implement those necessary changes we didn’t see at first.
We were blown away by the response we received when we unveiled our Paulick Report beta site. The passion of our audience is overwhelming and humbling. We truly did not understand the extent of the community built around the Paulick Report until we decided to make some necessary changes to the site.
While many of the comments we received privately and publicly were positive, we also had a strong contingency of hardcore readers who felt the new look was problematic. And instead of just complaining, these readers gave us some great insights on how to improve on the new site. And so later today, we will be replacing the old format (modeled after the Drudge Report) with a new and improved version of the Beta site.
The following enhancements were based on your suggestions:
First Screen Headlines: In the previous redesign, you could only see one headline without scrolling down the page. As it was pointed out, this causes the reader to spend too much time looking for content. To solve this, we made several changes:
· Shortened the masthead
· Shortened the menu bar
· Removed an ad location (Advertising dollars are important but not at the expense of the reader’s experience)
· Removed Paulick Report logo
· Replaced the three non-rotating picture boxes with four rotating headlines. This allows readers to learn the four most important stories of the day without having to do any scrolling
A Cleaner Look: White backgrounds with black type make the articles much easier to read. And with white replacing much of the gray, we feel the page has been significantly brightened. The font has also been changed for better clarity.
Where’s The Soul?: One of the criticisms we definitely took to heart was that the new design had lost some of the soul of the Paulick Report. Thinking on this, we:
· Added more white space as discussed above, giving a more inviting feel to the Paulick Report and delivering an homage to our roots
· Added more headlines to the front page so that there are now 30 headlines featured on the front page, much more in line with the one-stop shop nature of the previous site
· Brought back pictures to the front page that you can, you know, actually see!
Miscellaneous Additions: There are other tweaks we have made after spending time with the beta site released two weeks ago.
· The poll has been moved to a position further up the page
· Ray’s Paddock now has three stories for you to choose from on the front page instead of seeing only the most current article
· We even added an animated bobblehead of Ray Paulick. Slap his head when you get a chance!
For those of you who would like to see us run parallel sites, we are nostalgic by nature and understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately, that is just not a possibility. The site needs to change for us to continue to grow and we sincerely hope that after seeing the revisions in action, you’ll continue to be part of the Paulick Report community. Your readership is very important to us.
To that extent, we would like to better outline the reasons we believe our new platform is best for everyone involved:
Better Organization: On the old site, you really had to work to find stories of interest and while we had an internal categorization of stories, it has become clear to us that never caught on.
Searching for Searching Capabilities: One of the criticisms of the new site was that each story now lands on an internal Paulick Report page. While that may be cumbersome to some readers, we have been frequently approached by readers who saw a story on our site and couldn’t find it because it disappeared off the page. Giving each story its own page will allow readers to search years of archives as the Paulick Report continues to grow.
Commenting at the Paulick Report: When comparing us to other sites that cover our industry, it is clear we have the strongest community of interactive readers, but with success comes some obstacles that need solutions. Due to increased traffic, we were getting hit by a large volume of unwanted spam. In order to combat that growing trend, we had to put too many keywords into our spam filters, often keeping legitimate user comments off the site for hours at a time. Unlike other Thoroughbred sites, we think it’s important that our readers can instantly be heard when they leave a comment. That’s why you will see a new commenting system that blocks spambots but will not keep out responsible members of our community.
Featuring our Weekly Features: Our weekly sponsored features like The Weekender Pedigree, Paulick Report Forum, American Graded Stakes Standings, Destination Louisville, Paulick Derby Index and Weekend Stakes: Where to Watch have been very popular among our readership but once they left the page, these stories became very difficult to find again. We’ve added a Features tab for ease of use.
The Very Best of the Blogs: One of the segments of this industry that have grown tremendously is the impressive stable of bloggers dedicated to racing. We have always made an effort to feature these talented and insightful writers but in our former configuration, we had to bury the Best of the Blogs. Now bloggers have their own tab on the Paulick Report.
A Growing Demand for Video: As Internet speeds continue to get faster (sorry dial up friends, you might want to look into investing an extra $30 a month or be stuck in the buggy whip business!) the demand for video capabilities grow. We were able to deliver video on the old site but quite frankly we were winging it. With our new video section and the ability to feature videos on our front page, our readers will be able to not only more easily watch videos on the Paulick Report but also search through archived footage. Very soon, we will also be featuring Graded Stakes videos, thanks to our friends at Post-Time Technologies. And if we can get Ray to shower, shave and get out of his pajamas every couple days, he will be engaging our readers with video diaries on issues of the day.
Freely Accounting for our Readers: Readers can now sign up for a free account on the upper right hand corner of the Paulick Report. As we continue to grow and in conjunction with our web partners at Digome, we will be offering more opportunities to participate in contests, giveaways and other value-added propositions for our readers. You also must have an account to participate in our new Ask Ray? section where you can ask Ray anything on your mind, within reason of course!
As we’ve said many times before, the Paulick Report is a success because of our community. You continue to push us to be better and we continue to deliver top quality content for your enjoyment. Remember, whether you love the new site more than your own mother, hate it with the passion of a thousand suns or more likely find yourself somewhere in between, there is one constant that will not change and that’s the unfettered view of the racing industry by Ray Paulick that originally brought you to the Paulick Report. Agree or disagree with him, we can all agree that his voice is what has made the Paulick Report the fastest-growing Thoroughbred site on the web today.