Another metaphor bites the dust

After two years of experimentation, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is no longer changing the layout of its pages depending on the day. They called it “dayparting”, borrowing a term from TV advertising. This was perhaps not the best pool in which to fish for metaphors.

Good theory, and we saw some gains in traffic early on. But, two years of hard-won experience made it clear that we can’t be all things to all people all the time. People might want to play games or shop or read celebrity gossip, but they weren’t coming to our site for that (well, maybe for the gossip). is, first and foremost, a news site.

Terry Heaton has a good analysis why this doesn’t work, focusing on the fact that readers don’t come in via the home page any more, an idea I explored in our Future of News report.
The big aha! in the story is their realization that they’re a news site. But they’ve only implicitly acknowledged the real lesson in their conclusion.

Meanwhile, we’ll stick with the news-oriented layout that we’ve been using between midnight and 1 p.m. on weekdays. We’ve redesigned it a bit for the Seattle Seahawks’ history-making playoff run (which, hopefully, will last beyond tomorrow). Interest in the team is at an all-time high — at least, among our users — and we wanted to make it easier for people to find all of our Seahawks content when they come to the site.

They are, first and foremost, a local news site.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.