Ask the Post -- Online, Mobile, iPhone and more

May 28, 2010

Roger Andelin discusses the The Post's presence on the Web, tablet and mobile platforms, recent and upcoming innovations and more.

Good Morning!  My name is Roger Andelin and I'm happy to be with you this morning.  I'm the Chief Information Officer at The Washington Post which means that I'm responsible for the day-to-day technology operations of our business and responsible for driving our technology strategy.  I'm happy to take any and all questions about our website, technology and mobile platforms, etc.  Let's get started!

Does the Post have an overall strategy in terms of innovation -- does it have plans in the works for things like crowdsourcing, QR codes and augmented reality apps, for instance?

Thanks for your question.  These are are very interesting technologies.  In fact, I am seeing much more rapid technology advancement.  It is an exciting time.

We are looking at all these technologies, but I must say I am most interested in HTML5 at the moment.  I believe it has the potential to significantly change the way we interact and use the web.  

When I click on a story, I get page 1 of X of the story, and I have to click another button to get the complete version of the story. This extra click (and the additional load time) makes it that much harder to use your website as compared to other newspapers. Please just load the whole article!

Thanks for your suggestion and feedback.  I will certainly give this idea consideration. 

How do you see the Post making use of the iPad (and other tablets) and do think they could fundamentally change how newspapers and magazines are put together?

We will make use of the iPad and other tablets.  I can't go into much detail now about our plan, but iPad is an important platform for us.  Yes, I do think these devices will change things for us.

Like most of our users, I too want to have our content on all my devices (iphone, ipad, desktop, etc).  The challenge for news and other publishers is how to efficiently create an outstanding user experience on all these platforms.  Technically, they are very different and require each a different development approach.  We are changing in order to create and publish content quickly for all these new platforms.

I have a Droid phone -- how are priorities set about developing apps for Droid, Blackberry, iPhone, etc.

Thanks for your question.  Like all publishers, we unfortunately do not have unlimited development resources.  Therefore, we need to prioritize our development efforts.  We do that by looking at things like demand and strategic value.

Android is definitely coming up very fast.  I expect you will see some things from us for this platform in the future.  It is an important platform.

Is the Post looking for ways to decouple from an ad supported model?

not at this time.

Do you see the Post putting up a paywall? Has their been consideration for micropayments?

We have consider may types of payment strategies, including micropayments.  However, we are not planning to put up a paid wall currently. 

I keep reading about how Google and Yahoo want to continue to deliver more highly specialized content -- anticipating what I want to see. But the Post currently doesn't let me even customize what I want on the home page at all. Is that something that is under consideration? Besides the obvious advantage, it could also help reduce how long it takes for the home page to load for me.

A lot of technology brain power is being put in software that can deliver specialized content, or content more customized to the individual reader.

However, I still think we have more room to improve here. Once we can get to the point were we can bring our users good value by customization I expect you will see this technology introduced more onto our site.

How have members of the newsroom taken to having to work with IT folks and developers? Do they usually come to you with ideas or do you come to them? How does the back-and-forth work, exactly?

Technology and news work very closely together.  In fact, this is key to our success.  New ideas are developed jointly.  In some cases, technology will introduce the idea and in others it may come from the news room.  It is a very collaborative process.

Without giving away any trade secrets, what has you so excited about HTML5 -- what uses do you see for it. And what's the hold up with its adoption in general on the Web -- seems like I've been hearing about it for more than a year now.

Earlier I mentioned that one challenge we face is the rapid growth of new platform and the desire our users have to view and content on all these different platforms.  HTML5 will help us more efficiently deliver our content across platforms.  I think adoption is moving quickly, but the biggest hold up is the browser.  Once all the browsers are supporting HTML5 adoption will move quickly.

I love both the Post and Facebook, but I was very unhappy with the recent decision to show articles that I have linked to.

Per the Post's instructions, I have adjusted my settings and disabled this feature, but I really don't like how this was introduced and handled. Thumbs down.

As another chatter requested, I would also like to see articles on one page. Otherwise, you all are doing a great job. Many thanks.

Thank you for your suggestions and feedback.  I will certainly consider this as we introduce new features.

We're out of time.  Thanks for all your questions.  I look forward to chatting again soon.  -Roger

In This Chat
Roger Andelin
Roger Andelin is The Washington Post's CIO and Vice President of Technology.
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