David Higgins on news.com.au’s customisation

News.com.au editor David Higgins talks about the customisation features introduced with the site’s redesign:

I see five key benefits that digital channels (IE mobile and Web) bring to our news audiences — immediacy, convenience, in-built social connection, value and customisation.

As an industry we’re very good at some of these, but we have lagged on others such as customisation. There has been a lot of scepticism about personalising the news and there have been difficulties with the lack registration, which allows a website to remember who it’s talking to.

Now, though, we’re hearing more about “the burden of choice” and we’re seeing the rise of “social news editing” on sites like Digg and more activity around aggregators like iGoogle and NetVibes.

So we think it’s time introduce simple customisation features based on Cookie technology. On news.com.au that means users can now expand or shrink certain sections, drag and drop them to the top of the page or banish them to the bottom with a single click.

I think what you’ll see is that news sites will give their readers options on how they want to read the news – the editor’s version, the popular zeitgeist version or the personalised version.

And, down the track, it’s inevitable there will be a social networking version based on what your friends are reading.


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