Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Restless in the night I got out of bed and worked on my Web site for about 90 minutes. This turned out to coincide with The Sydney Morning Herald's new home page launch. I keep the page open in one tab of IE all the time and when I went to bed it was the same old. At 2am I got quite a shock when the new layout burst into my unsuspecting browser.

Today's print version gives top of page four to details of new features. But it doesn't interest me as much as the fantastic, airy feel of the new design. Even though you scroll more, you enjoy it more due to larger font size, more white space, bigger images, and generally a more generous look-and-feel.

The story gives some interesting facts, though. The SMH Web site is, it says, Australia's premier news site. A 12 per cent increase in "unique browsers" (I've never heard of the metric before, but there you go) to 3.7 million monthly. The nearest competitor, NineMSN, recorded a five per cent drop.

The Australian Press Council Web site has statistics for print circulation. Between 2002 and 2006, the SMH saw sales drop from 229 thousand to 212 thousand. Only The Australian recorded a rise among the broadsheets, and that was very small. Melbourne's The Herald Sun sold 6000 more copies in 2006 than in 2002, and beat the biggest-selling Sydney tabloid, The Daily Telegraph, which lost readers.

The Net is where it's at, and growth in communities such as Facebook attest to its 'stickiness'. I joined a couple of weeks ago and I've met new people with similar interests. Of course, most interaction is fairly ephemeral. It'll never replace blogging for me, but offers me a third 'hook' in the Web.

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