Masthead CMC Magazine December 1, 1995 / Page 5


The Vision of an Accomplished Webmaster

An Interview with The New York Times' New Content Development Editor Elizabeth Osder

by Chris Lapham (

Elizabeth Osder's list of development rules:

  1. Change Content Daily: The home page must be changed regularly. People need a reason in the first screen load to keep coming back. If the site is evergreen, develop an element that changes automatically.

  2. Maximize First Screen Load: Get something fun, new, and informative in the first load.

  3. Include Interaction : Create context for conversation by framing information and questions for forums. Don't just say here's the forum. Spike users interest: get them involved.

  4. Make Navigation Part of the Narrative: Don't forget that navigation is now apart of the narrative. Wherever you are on a site you should be able to easily link to other parts of that site. For example, on Rockhall, the top navigation links on the pages connect to the content areas and the navigation links on the page bottom connect to all the interactive areas.

  5. Make Graphics Worth the Wait: If you are going to be graphically intense, make it worth the wait. Roaches is a bit much at 14.4, but it's worth it and we haven't had a complaint yet. Always insert image sizing so text loads first.

  6. Remember that Nothing is too Obvious: Give people an idea about what the site is about. We have an icon glossary on Rockhall and descriptive sentences on Weather. People have different learning styles. There are readers and mad clickers. I'm a mad clicker, but I have to think of the folks who want to read before they make the decision to stop and visit an area.

  7. Don't Overlink: Why link out and make someone suffer the look-up time? Develop your own content.

  8. Let the User Write the Site: Create tools, vehicles for feedback, such as forums, and let the site take the direction users want. Allow them to write content--we do this successfully in the Best Rock And Roll Memory Forum on Rockhall.
Link to interview [CMC TOC]

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