Editor’s note: Please forgive our shameless self-promotionalism, but we’re excited about the new Web site.
Way back in the good ol’ days, when cookies and spam were still something you ate and not words that even computer-savvy toddlers seem to be familiar with, the Mississippi Business Journal went online.
OK, it was only 1995.
Perhaps the mid-90s — 1990s — weren’t exactly the Dark Ages, but in “virtual years” the MBJ Web site is well past its prime. It’s worked hard, but it’s just not getting the job done the way it used to do.
So, www.msbusiness.com is getting the gold watch and heading into retirement. Out with the old, in with the new. For in January 2004, the MBJ will launch an all-new site designed to be everything its predecessor was and more.
“The current site has been great, but it has outlived a lot of its usefulness,” said MBJ general manager Ron Jones, who was instrumental in getting the MBJ online almost a decade ago. “The key word is ‘utility.’ The new Web site is being designed to offer more utility to our subscribers, advertisers and vendors, as well as the MBJ staff. I’m excited about it.”
When the MBJ launched its Web site, it was one of the first weekly newspapers in Mississippi to do so. Pioneers, maybe, but it was not as if the MBJ went knocking on the Internet’s door. Rather, it was the other way around.
“We had advertisers who were Internet service providers and Web designers, and they all wanted to design our Web site — having the MBJ as one of their clients would look good in their portfolio,” Jones remembered.
While enthusiasm for the new Web site grew among the MBJ staff, it was some what dampened by the price tag. To get the site designed and online, the MBJ paid $10,000, which seemed a princely sum. But staffers felt a virtual presence was essential to MBJ’s future, and in October 1995 the first announcement of the MBJ Web site ran in the paper.
From there, the MBJ’s online growth continued. In 1996, the MBJ got e-mail for the first time, and that same year registered the msbusiness.com domain and added the Internet Directory. Suddenly, the MBJ staff, its readers and advertisers couldn’t remember what life was like pre-Web site.
In 2000, the MBJ saw that the Web site was showing some age. A redesign was ordered, which included adding the ability to subscribe to the paper online and a departmental breakdown with e-mail addresses for each staff member, among others.
The most significant addition, however, was the MBJ e-bulletin. The e-bulletin is a free e-mail service that gives users breaking news items delivered to their computer each morning
In January 2001, the first month the service launched, 123 people signed up for the e-bulletin. No month since then has seen fewer than 300 new subscribers. In October 2003, a new record was set when 675 new subscribers came aboard. Currently, the MBJ has thousands subscribers to the e-bulletin.
So — surprise, surprise — the e-bulletin will be a part of the new Web site, which is being developed by Jackson-based U.S. NetworX Inc. In fact, the new site will retain all its current offerings while adding an array of new features and options.
“When we first began addressing the idea of a redesign for msbusiness.com, one of our main goals was to create a more functional database of user information in order to provide more client-specific features such as account information updates,” said Meg Martin, vice president of sales and marketing at U.S. NetworX. “Another important aspect in revamping the Web site was to increase user’s ability to access information right at their fingertips, from ordering back issues of the Mississippi Business Journal to purchasing a booth for special events. Finally, we wanted to create a new site that was more upbeat, easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye.
“The Mississippi Business Journal has moved in a positive direction throughout the years. Now, they have a Web site that can move with them.”
In addition to a fresher look, msbusiness.com will also offer new options such as enhanced special publications and special events selections, classified ads, an online store, the “Book of Lists” and a Question of the Week, an online poll of current news and important business issues.
“We use the latest technology to deliver business news to our readers every week, and our Web site has become an integral part of that process,” said MBJ editor Jim Laird. “In addition to thousands of subscribers around the state, we’ve always had readers from different regions of the country. Now, we have readers around the world. It’s an excellent example of the new global economy at work.”
The scheduled launch of the new Web site is January 2004. The MBJ plans on debuting the new and improved www.msbusiness.com at the Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO 2004, which will be held January 21-22 at the Trademart in Jackson.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at mailto:email@example.com.