Online publishing challenges editors, offers readers opportunities

October 1, 2006

Cardiovascular microsite now provides content for specialists, generalists alike

Cardiovascular microsite now provides content for specialists, generalists alike

Like medical imaging, the world of publishing never stands still. Just as digital imaging has posed challenges for radiologists in the past decade, editors have grappled with the development of useful online services for readers. Print-only publications are fast becoming obsolete. It is essential to think creatively about the types of material that will attract and maintain the interest of Web visitors. Effective presentation is also critically important.

The appeal of online publishing is that editors are no longer constrained by a fixed number of pages as we are in conventional printed editions. Suddenly, it is possible to include longer, more analytical articles and to cater to the niche interests of various specialists. Speed and cost savings are other big attractions. Printers' deadlines are no longer a vital preoccupation, and one of the largest cost elements is removed from the equation.

On the downside, electronic publishing comes with its own set of problems. Many people still favor printed material and doggedly refuse to read magazines and newspapers online. As one radiologist told me earlier this year, "I spend a large part of my working day stuck at a computer terminal and have no intention of staring at a screen for a minute longer than I really have to." Such an attitude is entirely understandable.

Making it easy to navigate around a Web site is another important consideration, as is deriving revenue from a site without bombarding visitors with unwanted pop-ups and intrusive banner adverts. Finally, research shows that online readers have a short attention span, underlining the need for concise and well-edited material.

If you have not spent time at our Web site (www.diagnosticimaging.com) recently, I urge you to visit. The content continues to evolve and expand. In addition to archives of all of our publications, the site features daily news updates; weekly and monthly columns about radiology practice, MRI safety, young researchers, and industry issues; conference Webcasts; and interactive features such as a bulletin board and online opinion surveys on popular topics.

Microsites present another opportunity to present tailored content. Our PACSWeb site now also includes coverage of PACS for cardiology and orthopedics. Additional microsites focus on radiofrequency tumor ablation and practical CT applications. The newest microsite, focused on cardiovascular imaging, was launched in August.

The success of our electronic projects relies on your active involvement. Let me know the changes you would like to see. Which areas have we ignored? What annoys you about our Web site? How do you think we can improve it? Please send your feedback and ideas to me at philipward1@btconnect.com.