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We’ve been hard at work the past few months finalizing all elements of the redesign. It’s the ninth time in eleven years I’ve redesigned the look of the site. The redesign is the result of the work of our talented programmers, editors and ad designers. Hey guys! Thanks for making my design come to life!

We had two goals in mind with the redesign – simplification and customization. The redesigned site is easy to navigate. It also offers options for users to customize content to fit their individual needs, with features such as RSS feeds from other sites.

With more than 700,000 registered users, NewsOK.com features a variety of digital media, including text, photos, streaming video, podcasts and RSS feeds.

Here’s the story that ran in last weeks paper.

Customizing your Web news

icon_newspaper.gifRandy Ellis, The Oklahoman
Sunday, May 6, 2007

Computer users can now choose the news they want and the way they want to get it with customization features recently added to NewsOK.com’s redesigned Web site.

“The media has traditionally told people what’s important,” said Kelly Dyer Fry, multimedia director for The Oklahoman. “Now people will be able to tell the Web site what topics are important to them.”

The Web site will do the rest, providing the person each day with groupings of stories on the topics they have selected, she said.

For example, if a person wants to see news about the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University the very first thing when they go to the Web site, they can customize the site to do that.

If they want to see stories that mention Chesapeake Energy Corp., Wal-Mart or some other business, they can customize the site to do that. The possibilities are endless, she said.

About 10,000 volunteers have been testing a trial version of the redesigned NewsOK.com site for several weeks.

“Overwhelmingly, people loved it,” Fry said. “We’re now ready to welcome the masses and throw the party.”

Access to the site will continue to be free. Those who register can customize.

Taking advantage

The redesigned site is different enough from the old site that Fry recommends people go through a short tutorial on the site to learn how to take advantage of all the new features.

But if people don’t want to use the new features, that’s OK, Fry said.

“Our default settings will continue to give users the good variety of news, sports and other information that they are accustomed to receiving,” she said.

“The most common question we get is, ‘Why change?’ ” Fry said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

The answer is that technology continues to change and NewsOK.com wants to take advantage of technology that gives users more control over the information they want to see, she said.

Along with the ability to customize the news, users of the Web site will find a more interactive Web site with more videos, blogs, RSS feeds and feedback forums.

“We’re not just talking, we’re listening,” said David Morris, general manager of NewsOK.com. “It’s not just, ‘Here’s your information.’ It’s ‘Here’s your information, what do you think?’ ”

“We want to be a gathering place for Oklahomans,” Fry said.

In-house studio

The Oklahoman’s multimedia department has built a new in-house studio that will be used to add many videos to the NewOK.com site, she said.

“Over the next few months, people will get to know The Oklahoman’s reporters and editors like never before,” she said. “They will be adding a lot of insight.”

Fry pointed to news commentaries by Ed Kelley, editor of The Oklahoman, as examples of the types of unique content that will be available on the Web site.

Exciting advertising changes are being made, as well, said Alan Hicks, advertising and marketing director for NewsOK.com.

“In the last few months, we’ve added a lot of advertising-related videos, including job clips,” Hicks said. “Ads that you see in the newspaper have been turned into videos so people can learn more about those companies.”

Soon, the site will launch “great places to work” videos, he said.

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