In my last column, I spoke to some of the efforts we at FM have underway to improve the content of our Web site and to make it more useful to you, our readers. We are collaborating in these efforts with our senior Web developer, David Miyares, whom you will find on our editorial masthead.
(In fact, that is an honorary placement, as Dave does not report to editorial. But in his role as FM's chief Internet guru, he is intimately involved in our efforts to enhance and maintain the technical infrastructure that undergirds FM's Web presence and other Internet initiatives.)
As anyone who regularly uses the Internet knows, the transition of print media to online has been an imperfect one. Print took hundreds of years to get to its present point of sophistication in terms of graphics, typography and other attributes. Comparatively speaking, Web page design is still in its infancy.
On the other hand, digital media offers capabilities that go far beyond those of print. One of the most significant of these is its power of search and retrieval.
For example, keeping track of specific articles that have appeared in past copies of a magazine has traditionally been difficult. Here in FM's editorial offices, we get calls all the time from readers who ask questions like, "I remember an article on (you name the topic) that appeared in FM last year. Maybe it was longer ago than that, I'm not really sure. Can you help me find a copy?"
Answering a question like that usually relies on an editor's " institutional" knowledge of what has run in the past—and his or her ability to interpret whatever clues are provided to determine exactly. what it is the reader is looking for.
One of our initiatives this year is to provide a better search capability to our site to help readers find past articles, whether they are stories on topics like catering or food safety, features about operators in specific segments, or material that relates to specific product categories, like beverages or desserts. While the FM site offers some capabilities along these lines right now, we think they can be significantly improved, and made a lot more user friendly, with a little work.
Which brings me to the main topic of this month's editorial: I'd like to ask the readers of this
magazine to give me some direct feedback in the next six weeks or so about the kinds of topic and other search functionality you'd like to see on our site.
I'm looking for direct, openended feedback.
- What kind of content from past issues of the magazine do you consider it important or useful to be able to access?
- Is there a kind of content that hasn't appeared in the magazine-that you'd like to see in our online presence?
- What kinds of topic categories would help you the most?
- Can you give us an example of something you'd like to look for on our site, but can't easily look for now?
- What bothers you most about the way information on our site is organized right now?
- What part of our current site do you visit the most, and why?
- What kinds of online product information would most help you on your job?
One of our goals is to make a wider variety of past content available (right now, most of our site content only goes back two or three years). What specific kinds of articles from the past do you think should be our priority when it comes time to cull content from our archives for posting?
Basically, we'd like you to give us your "wish list." That's not to say we will be able to provide everything our readers would like to see, but we'd certainly like to consider your input as we look for ways to enhance our site's capabilities. Whatever feedback you can provide will be of interest and use to us.