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It’s hard to tell from this angle. Are you reading this column on your desktop at the office? Are you sitting in an airport lounge scrolling through on your phone? Maybe you’re a traditionalist, reading the magazine while you’re on a plane, or lying in the bath. You may even be at stool. In which case it’s just as well I can’t see you.
Whatever. It doesn’t really matter how these words are getting to you; they are the same words whether you’re reading the magazine or the website. Isn’t modern life wonderful?
We couldn’t have done this 32 years ago when HCB started. Then it was a case of writing out the copy (in longhand), having it typed up, then cutting out the words to fit and pasting them onto the galley, sending the galleys to the printers, checking the proofs, getting the printers to do their job, then sending out the magazine to subscribers around the world. That was a lengthy process, so much so that some people did not get to read our honeyed words until four weeks or more after they were written.
Things are so much different now. We can write a news story and post it on the website, complete with picture, in the time it takes you to boot up your laptop (assuming you’re using a PC, that is). More to the point, we no longer have to wait for the printing process to get news to our readers.
When the world of the interweb was relatively new, our approach was to post the magazine on our website. Which is fine, but doesn’t add much to the value proposition. So when the HCB website underwent a major redevelopment last year, we decided to take a different approach.
All feature stories now appear on the website as soon as they are ready. Readers no longer have to wait for the issue to go to press before being able to read in depth about what’s going on. News stories are posted on the website in brief as soon as we get them – and are carried as normal in the weekly newsletter. But these are often developed into longer pieces for the magazine and they too go up on the website as soon as they are ready.
What all this means is that readers can access information more quickly and from more sources than before. And we’ve managed to do all this without asking any more of our subscribers. There is a lot of free content on the website, but access to feature articles is restricted. If you’re already a subscriber, you should have a login name and password for the website – if you don’t, let Caroline Edge know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will sort you out.
Another thing it means is that we are getting more and more visitors to the site. And the numbers make interesting reading – it’s not just that more visitors are coming more often and viewing more pages, but the analytics built into the website give us a fuller picture of who is visiting and what they are looking at.
Most interesting, for us at any rate, is the location of our visitors. As might be expected, a large slice of our online audience is found in English-speaking territories, notably the US and UK but also, increasingly, India. English-friendly northern Europe also makes up a significant proportion of readers. But the fastest growth in visitor numbers we have seen over the past few months has been from China, which now represents the second largest audience for HCB.
Regardless of where you are in the world, if you are reading HCB on the internet you can get a whole lot more coverage by being a subscriber. If you’re still reading the magazine, try www.hazardouscargo.com and see what more we have to offer.