Logan Molen: SteamboatPilot.com gets a fresh, new look | SteamboatToday.com

Logan Molen: SteamboatPilot.com gets fresh, new look

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — If you’ve been online Wednesday, you may have noticed SteamboatPilot.com has a fresh look.

Our digital developers rebuilt the site with a mobile-first mindset to reflect changing habits of our readers. This “responsive” design automatically adjusts to fit different screen sizes on your platform of choice, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer or gaming system.

On top of that, the design is cleaner and should make it easier to find popular content and discover other things we think you might like.

Here’s a brief summary of what’s changed and what hasn’t:

What’s new

• An improved “responsive” presentation that better serves our fast-growing mobile audience, which represents a majority of our website traffic.

• A cleaner design that’s easier on the eyes.

• A few changes to section links at the top of each page that make it easier to reach popular pages. We’ve also added a section called In Depth to highlight comprehensive coverage on specific topics, such as the West Steamboat annexation and Longevity Project.

• On mobile devices, an app-like menu appears at the bottom of every page and provides easy access to key site features like Trending Stories and other site sections.

• New mobile-friendly advertising positions that offer an improved browsing experience and better performance for local businesses sharing their marketing messages. In early tests, these ad formats have delivered impressive performance.

What hasn’t changed

• Our commitment to deliver the same quantity and quality of local news and information to our audiences in Steamboat Springs, Routt County and the rest of the world.

• The Steamboat Pilot & Today mobile app for Apple and Android devices is unaffected by this redesign. While we encourage our app users to give the new website a try, the experience for our app users will be the same.

• Our article-commenting software — more on that below.

Why change?

A few key factors relate to serving an audience that is increasingly diverse in its use of technology:

• In February, SteamboatPilot.com readers viewed the site at 958 different screen resolutions ranging from narrow mobile devices with screens 218 pixels wide by 250 pixels high and very large screens that are 5,760 pixels wide by 3,240 pixels high. Our goal is to optimize the viewing experience on your screen of choice, not our screen of choice.

• SteamboatPilot.com visitors last month read the site using 2,123 different models of mobile phones and more than 150 different versions of operating systems. Each handset and operating system renders a website differently, so by being more flexible in our design, we can actually deliver a more consistent experience at a personal level.

• As reader behavior changes, we need to stay ahead of those trends to best serve our valued advertisers — whose business allows us to provide free products online and in print — and the readers who value our news, information and advertising. With that in mind, this redesign is just one step in what will continue to be ongoing change in how we serve our customers.

With any changes this big, we likely will uncover a few bugs that didn’t show up in testing. We’ll work through those as quickly as possible. You can help by letting us know if you see anything strange or features that are missing.

I’m confident you’ll like the new design. But if you’re turning your nose up at first glance, give it a few days and see whether your opinion changes. Regardless, we want to hear your constructive feedback or answer any questions you might have. You can reach me at lmolen@SteamboatPilot.com or 970-871-4224.

Story commenting

I hear a lot of pros and cons relating to our article comments, which are restricted to readers who have Facebook accounts.

After my last column in February, I heard from several readers who suggested/urged us to stop using Facebook’s software plug-in in favor of alternatives that include Disqus. Their reasons focused mostly on Facebook’s miscues in handling customer data and privacy.

One reader wrote, “I really hope you change your policy of having to use Facebook in order to submit comments. It is unconscionable that you would force your readers to use a product (Facebook) which has shown total disregard for their users data and privacy. I am not familiar with another online daily newspaper that has this policy.”

Actually, there are many local media sites that use Facebook commenting. Yes, there are other commenting tools, and as a site operator, I’ve used a number of them in years past, including Disqus. My favorite of all, called Civil Comments, went out of business in late 2017 because the founders couldn’t find investors who wanted to support its vision for commenting tools that empowered the community to foster thoughtful conversations.

Amid this website redesign, we are sticking with Facebook’s software. While I thought the aforementioned Civil Comments was the best at fostering truly civil and rewarding conversations, I’ve found Disqus to be among the worst.

Facebook, for all its faults, has widespread adoption and requires real names, a positive factor in minimizing trolling and abusive comments. Real names don’t guarantee a high bar on thoughtful online commenting, but I’ve found that to be a key differentiator from systems that allow anonymous commenting, which too often breed trolls and abuse. So, we’ll be staying with Facebook, but as with all things digital, you never know when change will fall into your lap.  

Retirement celebration

Longtime Pilot & Today sales rep Deb Proper is retiring Monday, April 1, and we’re hosting a community party for her from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, in the Pilot & Today community room, 32 10th St. Please join us in celebrating one of Steamboat’s best people.

Coffee and a Newspaper

We invite all readers to our next Coffee and a Newspaper event at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the Pilot & Today community room. Editor Lisa Schlichtman will be on hand to lead a discussion of our news coverage, the new website and other topics of interest.

To reach Logan Molen, call 970-871-4224, email lmolen@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @lmolen.

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