Tea with the FT

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Come to Tea at the FT and tell us what you think...

This was the notice we put up on a number of FT blogs inviting readers to come in and tell us what they liked and disliked about FT.com. This was the second time we'd held a tea and hopefully they'll be many more to come. It's a brilliant and cost effective way to find out at first hand what our users think, how they use the site and how we could improve. It was a really fascinating afternoon with a great turn out.

It's always easy to hear what's good about what we do but the bad and the ugly as well... that can be a bit harder to swallow. But in for a penny, in for a pound, we wanted to hear it all. A diverse range of people turned up including private investors, charity organisors as well as social media enthusiasts and they were all incredibly interesting and knowledgable.

In between my cup of English Breakfast and cream scone with lashings of strawberry jam (if only all my meetings were this well catered) I made sure I took down lots of notes. There was one new idea after another, some of which had never even crossed our minds, it was brilliant.

A common theme was a lack of differentiation between blog posts and comment pieces on FT.com but the group were quite adament that blog posts should be about editorial comment and opinion rather than simply news pieces. FT Alphaville and Markets Live got a big thumbs up by everyone in the room. One guest even made a point of saying
"Markets Live is unparallel to anything else" - wow!

One interesting suggestion was based on the desire to follow journalists, a need for a one stop show to see what articles they've written recently. We don't make it particular easy to do this on our site at the moment so we'll be looking into this.

Another point focussed on subscribing to FT.com. It's becoming more and more important for online publishers to find subscription models that work particularly with advertising revenues not being as strong as in previous years. One guest suggested that we should be open as to why we need people to subscribe; inform the reader that subsciptions are needed to be a sustainable business. A subscription has got to provide value though surely.

I'd like to say a big thanks to everyone who came along. I've got a feeling the suggestions from the day will keep me busy for some time. We will be holding these sessions in the future too so if you fancy coming along, do get in touch.

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