If you haven’t seen Velonews’ new web design I suggest you go check it out. You may not notice too many functional differences upon first glance but when you start looking through it the changes will become evident.
The one thing that I notice immediately is that Velonews has changed over to a content management system (CMS) called WordPress. This is the same platform that Cycling Tips runs on. What WordPress does is it allows you to add content (blog posts, photos, videos, twitter feeds, etc) very easily. This is referred to as the backend. The frontend of WordPress is basically a “theme” that allows the owner of the website to arrange the look and feel of what the reader sees. As you’ll notice, Velonews is much more complicated than something like a blog such as Cycling Tips since there’s so much more content that needs to be organized and presented.
I’m surprised that Velonews chose WordPress as their CMS. WordPress is great for small projects such as Cycling Tips, but it doesn’t scale well for larger websites that have massive amounts of information and customization required. I’m assuming that Velonews has done their homework on their new web platform that must have cost them squillions to develop.
Anyway, this is all just jargon that interests tech geeks like me. So, what does this mean to the reader?
The one thing that I think Velonews has hit the nail on the head with is allowing comments on each of their articles. Giving the readers a voice can be extremely powerful in adding content and context. I’ve found this through my experience with Cycling Tips. Sometimes I produce some garbage blog post and the most amazing discussions end up taking place. This would feel like a lonely and empty blog if it wasn’t for you guys commenting.
For example, I just posted a comment at Velonews in the headline “Wiggins’ Move To Sky Confirmed“. I wanted to have a little jab at whizwith526 to test the waters. Velonews uses the same commenting system as we use here (Disqus), so you can sign in with the account you’ve already created to comment here. Commenting allows for a whole new level of user interaction to take place as well as adding valuable new information to the story that the readers feel part of. A community evolves.
This isn’t all good news though. I’m sure that Velonews knows they’re playing with fire allowing anyone to post any comment they choose. When I posted my comment above it appeared immediately. No moderation appeared to take place.
We’ve all seen the garbage collection of comments that have taken over YouTube. People comment there just to pick a fight, to self promote their penis enlargement website, or to simply be a jerk. Velonews will have to carefully moderate their comments to ensure the quality of discussion in maintained and doesn’t turn into a playground for idiots. Comments will have to be watched very closely with regards to things like drug speculation. There is enormous potential for false rumors to spread and Velonews will need to maintain their credibility as an accurate news source. This could blow up in their faces if they’re not careful. (BTW, I don’t know if Garmin was well compensated as I said in my comment. I just made that up. But it shows that uninformed information can make its way into the content).
There’s clearly an opportunity here and if Velonews gets it right they’ll be onto something huge. Now, what is cyclingnews doing to innovate and embrace new forms of social media?