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Another View: What’s up with all those questions on the Journal site?

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Managing Editor
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As we enter the fourth week of our new digital world here at the Auburn Journal, we continue to hear positive comments about our website’s new design — and our fair share of critiques.

The decision behind our most recent redesign of auburnjournal.com was to provide our readers with a more streamlined Web experience that better showcases Journal-created content, is easier to view on the ever-expanding field of mobile devices and allows our online readers the opportunity to view our content free of charge.

It seems that the way we keep our content free to online audiences has not been a crowd pleaser for some. Those micro-surveys, you know the ones that ask you if you are going to be doing some holiday shopping this year, are an integral part in allowing access to our stories to be devoid of anything that requires your credit card number.

The Journal receives revenue by allowing these surveys to be placed into stories, which allows us to continue to offer our content free of charge.

These micro-surveys, provided by Google, are usually two quick questions that seek random information for clients who contract for this service to do market research. If you don’t wish to answer a certain question, you can request another one. You can also share our stories via Facebook and Twitter to access the full version of the article.

Let me assure you that these surveys do not track your movements on auburnjournal.com or anywhere on the Web for that matter. Nor do we collect any personal information about you through these surveys. These surveys simply log your anonymous answers to the questions and aggregates them with all the other anonymous answers, which are then shared in a report with Google’s clients who pay for the research.

“Google Surveys keep AuburnJournal.com free to the public to read. We believe that asking someone to anonymously answer one or two basic questions rather than asking people to pay to read the site was a great alternative,” said Ryan Schuyler, Interactive Media Manager for Gold Country Media and the Auburn Journal. “These surveys are completely random and only require a few seconds to answer the question.”

You will also find that in some instances when you click on a story that you will not be asked a survey at all.

We’ve also heard from many of you who say you miss the myAuburn section of the website, which featured user-generated content. The myAuburn feature of the website generated on average 75,000 pages view a month, compared to more than 800,000 page views per month for our main news site. With myAuburn generating, on average, less than 10 percent of overall traffic to our website and a push to keep the focus on the main news site, it was decided that the user-generated section of the site would be discontinued in the redesign. Another deciding factor in the elimination of the user-generated section was the amount of non-local content that was uploaded onto myAuburn, primarily the high amount of spam posts that had nothing to do with the Auburn community. 

Even though this part of the site has been removed, it doesn’t mean online users can’t still participate in the stories and photographs produced by Journal staff. At the bottom of each story there’s the ability to send story ideas, letters to the editor, corrections or sign up for our email newsletter.

Readers of the Journal online can still become registered where they can post events to our online calendar. To create a new log-on (old user accounts were deleted with the redesign), simply go to the top of the homepage and click on “log in” and follow the prompts. Once you’re logged in, go to the Calendar drop-down menu and click on “Post an event.”

Our new website continues to evolve with new features and enhancements, all the while offering you breaking news, features, photos, videos and daily updates, making auburnjournal.com a one-stop shop for local news.

“The new auburnJournal.com is a large step forward in Web technology and will provide us the flexibility needed to keep on top of the ever-changing world of digital news,” Schuyler said. “This new technology allows for quick changes and enhancements to the website and that is something you can expect to see more of over the coming months. We have several new features scheduled and we are excited about the positive reaction and feedback to the new look and feel.”

So make us a part of your daily routine to find out what’s going on in and around Auburn at auburnjournal.com.

Andrew DiLuccia is the City and Multimedia Editor at the Auburn Journal. Reach him at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com.