I took a look at the “Paper without the Paper” beta program that the Toledo Blade is testing. Thank you for the invite!
My initial thought is that it appears the work is redundant. I understand that taking electronic images of the newspaper that are being repurposed for users, but the initial approach is falling a little short.
- The images are flat .PNGs – Search engines are getting closer to being able to index flat images, but making each page a flat .png makes it harder to be searched.
- How do they get the coupons? – The other problem with flat images is that when people visit the Paper without the Paper, they won’t be able to extract the coupons without printing the whole page and cutting it out. That puts the paper back out, even if it’s the client’s paper.
- Archiving – Right now all those images stay under one URL. That will be making the thousands of pages a year a lot harder to chronicle. While you’re at it, make sure the naming convention for each image considers dashes between names and a time stamp so their easier to be searched in image searches.
toledo-blade-sports-2010-12-09.png. Fill out the alt text too.
- The redundancy department of redundancy – you would essentially be running two copies of the newspaper. And if flat .PNGs ever get indexed, you’ll be playing the duplicate content game.
If the paper is using it as a sub-feature on the site, then it might work. But most of the papers who seem to be making a resurgence and have wanted to keep the paper look have focused on the graphic design, and to making sure the SEO and engagement on those sites are at least adequate. The NY Times is a good example (but for their paid content section). Brent Payne over at The Chicago Tribune as done a great job of getting the content structured with the CMS he works with.
If you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck, focus on the content and the ability to share and engage that content. Make the design work for you. Make Google love it. Make it easy for people to share each post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit & Stumbeupon.
And if you have any questions on how to better do that, my team is pretty good at it. We do all that mobile and iPad stuff too 🙂
Once again, thank you for the beta invite. I hope my opinions help.