It's all about continuous improvement. That's the motivation for significantly revamping our Web site to make it easier to navigate and more useful for you. Launched in April 1996, PlasticsNews.com is now the most widely used news site in the plastics industry, with about 120,000 visitors per month.
Some enhancements will be obvious; others are subtler, but just as important. In addition to creating an interactive reader poll, we are, for the first time, displaying our news by topical categories. Below the site's top three stories, the home page now features 10 tab-style headings - automotive, construction, consumer goods, packaging, medical, materials, machinery, design, molds/tooling and China/Asia. Each category features its three most-recent headlines and links directly to its own section.
Not every story we post online will appear on the home page; some may go directly into their category. But you can click on the ``More breaking news'' text link under the lead stories on the home page to view every story we've posted online in the past month, organized chronologically.
The navigational bar now incorporates ``rollover'' technology, meaning that multiple, clickable links appear when you place your cursor on top of one of the links that includes a red arrow next to it. For example, direct links to each of our 12 different rankings and lists pop up when you roll your cursor over the ``Rankings & lists'' link. As a result, 65 different pages on the site are now just one click away compared with 16 previously.
You also now can view the news on our site grouped by production process. For instance, you can opt to see all stories related to injection molding; blow molding; film and sheet manufacturing; thermoforming; pipe, profile and tubing extrusion; rotomolding; or recycling. Access these pages by using the rollover feature on the News link, and bookmark them, if you wish.
Behind the scenes, we've invested in a robust search engine that delivers more-complete results when searching our archives for terms that include previously problematic ampersands or hyphens. The enhanced ``site search'' function at the top of each page searches some 24,000 full-text, archived stories from nearly 11 years' worth of our print newspapers.
Anyone can use the site search function. However, you still must be a paid subscriber (either to the newspaper or Web) to access the full-text breaking news and archived news stories, plus other subscriber zones.
We've added new sections and renamed others: ``Datebook'' is now ``Calendar,'' and our searchable ``Web Watch links'' directory, containing 4,100 categorized hotlinks, now is called ``Links directory.'' On the navigational bar, we've added a detailed site map as well as useful links to information about story reprints (remember that our copyright applies equally to electronic and print copy), list rental and our own events. News stories now also include an ``e-mail this story'' feature, so that you more easily can make others aware of important breaking developments.
This site-redesign project - spearheaded by assistant managing editor Jeannie Reall - has been many months in the making. We welcome your feedback, as we continue to fine-tune the most timely, useful news site in the global plastics industry.