Plastics News gave birth Jan. 15, digitally speaking. That day marked the launch of the most extensive redesign of our Web site, PlasticsNews.com, since we made our online debut back in April 1996. The gestation period was nearly a full year, as our redesign committee first met to begin the project on Jan. 23, 2008.
It's much more than just a facelift, as we also have considerably loosened the policies for accessing our content online, throwing open a vast amount of news and information to all viewers that previously had been available to paid subscribers only. Our years of historical resin pricing data plus the full-detail data for many of our company rankings remain in the subscriber zone, but all users now can access nearly all our breaking news stories and features, as well as our PN story archives. Our digital vault, accessed via the site's search function, contains nearly 32,000 full-text articles from our weekly print newspaper dating back to January 1994.
The real catalyst for this latest change, our first major site redesign since fall 2004, has been the expansion of the Plastics News Global Group brand. In June 2005 we added the bilingual Plastics News China site (www.plasticsnews.com/China) and in July 2007 Crain Communications Inc. acquired the publications Plastics & Rubber Weekly and European Plastics News in Europe. Our aim since then has been to better integrate these products while also creating a user-friendly platform for delivering multimedia content such as video and audio clips, slide shows, interactive Web chats and Webinars.
When we acquired the two long-established, U.K.-based publications, they shared a single Web site at www.prw.com. So we leveraged our redesign efforts to completely revamp PRW.com and to launch a new EuropeanPlasticsNews.com site last September.
Now it's our turn. We are excited about these online changes, as our Web site continues to evolve to keep pace with technology, and with readers' needs and expectations. The new design offers streamlined navigation, more graphics, and provides us the flexibility to give more emphasis to the day's most important stories and content.
Still, we have moved cautiously when it comes to tinkering with a product that has been so well received worldwide. It will take some getting used to, but we ask that you take time to acquaint yourself with the new look, powerful features and improved functionality.
Our mission is to give you a modern, cleaner-looking site that is easier to navigate and better showcases our global reach. The site also offers more interactivity, as each news story contains a Comment option. Please use that feature to tell us what you like or don't like about our new design, as well as to join a dialogue about key industry issues. (One tip: If you have some of our old pages bookmarked, you might need to update those links.)
Next up: the redesign of our PN China site to bring it the same look and enhancements. What's truly exciting to us is that our four Plastics News Global Group sites now cover three continents in two languages and together can claim more than 10,000 daily visitor sessions and some 2.2 million monthly page views. We expect our traffic to grow as we continue to work hard to deliver, in real time, the vital news and data that you need to navigate today's business climate.
Robert Grace is Plastics News' editor and associate publisher.