Feb 09, 2009I've been a journalist since 1985. Over the past 23 years, I have been involved in countless discussions regarding the redesigning of magazines and (in more recent years) Web sites. During most of that time, the discussions were somewhat academic: "We need a new look. The site is old and tired. Other sites have upgraded; we should, too." Our decision to launch a 12-month project to redesign RFID Journal came out of focus groups with readers, and was done for one reason and one reason only: to make it easier for you to find the articles you want to read, and the information you need to access.
My original idea for RFID Journal, dating back to the original site I designed and coded myself in 2002 (which, admittedly, was pretty horrible by today's standards), was to keep things simple. News would be the center of the site; on the left would be links to all of the articles, and ads would be displayed on the right (we didn't have many of those in the early days).
Over the years, we've added a lot of additional features—such as podcasts, a searchable Buyer's Guide, a white paper library and a selection of best-practice and how-to articles. When we conducted focus groups in 2007, I was surprised to learn that people didn't even know we had these features—apparently, busy executives don't have the time to click around and find all of our content. As such, our goal for the new site was to display more content on the homepage, so that people could easily find what they were looking for.
One new feature we've added is context-sensitive browsing. Previously, when users clicked on RFID News, they were taken to an archive containing all of RFID Journal's news articles, covering a wide range of topics. Now, it's easy to access news, as well as other information, directly related to the topic you're exploring. Say, for instance, you're reading a news story about the use of RFID in the chemical industry—a blue box at the top of the left-side navigation bar will display links to news, case studies and other articles related to that sector.
We plan to add additional features in the coming months. First up will be an "Ask the Experts" forum, in which readers will be able to submit questions. RFID Journal's editors will then either answer the questions ourselves, or contact outside experts to have them supply the requested information. I hope others—end users, solutions providers and consultants—will contribute their knowledge and real-world experiences.
In addition, we've added some powerful new targeting features for advertisers—for example, the ability to control which readers see their marketing message. Imagine being able to show a Super Bowl ad not to a billion people for $3 million per half minute, but only to those who have indicated an interest in your product for a far more reasonable amount of money. Well, we now have the capability to segment readers and display ads only to those interested in a particular solution. We believe this is a fantastic option for advertisers—and for our readers as well (see The World's Most Targeted RFID Marketing Tool).
One thing I've learned over the years is that readers like what's familiar and find redesigns disorienting—until they get used to them, that is. Our aim, therefore, was to put all of the information you need at your fingertips, so that you don't need to spend time clicking around the site to learn how to navigate it. I would love to hear your feedback on the changes we've made. Please e-mail me at
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.