When Fleet Owner launched its first website back in the digital dark ages of 1995, we had a simple plan. We created a temporary site to provide news coverage from what was then the industry’s largest equipment event, the International Truck Show in Las Vegas. The goal was also simple—to see if our audience would use this new medium to keep track of business developments in the trucking industry.
It worked on both levels. We were able to keep the site fresh with a steady flow of news for the show’s three-day run, and a surprising number of people visited the site. We learned a lot about the Internet’s potential to radically change the way we serve our trucking audience.
However, we also experienced firsthand the technology’s limitations. We had to snake two extra telephone lines into a hotel room through the window to handle the dial-up modems. And we had to bring two people adept at that arcane science of HTML coding with us to Las Vegas, who sat in that hotel room for 20 hours a day turning editors’ copy into website content.
Despite the difficulties of creating and feeding that first site, we saw clearly that the web was going to be a major part of our future. It offered a second path of communication with you, our audience, a way to expand our coverage of the trucking industry, and to complement—not replace—our 85-year-old print magazine.
Of course these insights seem quaint now when Internet access is nearly ubiquitous and websites are an unremarkable part of everyday life. As we launched the fourth generation of fleetowner.com last month, however, I was struck by just how much the technology has changed and how deeply it has affected our ability to provide you with the information and tools you need to run your fleet.
For one thing, the new site does away with what has become an artificial division between print, audio and video. Now there’s just content that’s delivered in the format that makes the most sense for that particular item.
More importantly, there’s no filter between you, the audience, and Fleet Owner’s editors. We post our news or stories directly now and have the ability to add videos, links, charts, graphics or whatever else we know will increase the value of that information to our audience. That means our editors, who move broadly throughout all types of trucking operations, can bring the perspective of that experience and knowledge to bear directly and quickly on everything they report. If it makes sense to add a video that demonstrates a new safety technology, they simply add it. Or if background stories would add to your understanding of a news report, they can easily attach the most relevant links.
Along with the website redesign, we’ve completely revamped our daily and weekly email newsletters to reflect the broader range of content we’re providing online. And in the very near future, those of you who prefer to get your information on smartphones and tablets will have dedicated apps.
I remain firmly convinced that nothing can replace the deep analysis, forward perspective and comprehensive view of trucking provided by Fleet Owner as a printed magazine. But I also know that our digital media is just as important as you navigate the quickly moving business of running a fleet. If, like so many readers of the magazine, you make fleetowner.com a regular part of your business day, I hope you find our newest version even more valuable. And if you haven’t been a regular visitor, I urge you to take another look.