To the list of things Joy has suggested are at the core of interactive copy editing/web production (prediting? proditing?), I’ll add this: optimizing the home page.

Often through the day, editors should spend a minute or two staring at the home page and asking themselves: If I didn’t work here, would I be interested in any of this? Do the headlines and excerpts do the best possible job of selling these stories to me? Are the right stories featured?

Each weekday this summer, the home page received about 6,000 page views on average. That’s by far the most trafficked page on our site, and it represents a lot of opportunity to engage our community. This graph shows the fairly consistent pattern of daily home-page views for the summer.

Daily page views on the home page

However, the bounce rate from the home page — the percentage of people who visit only that page of our site — hovers around 40 percent. (The graph below shows the weekly bounce rate for the summer.) In other words, two out of every five people who visit the home page find nothing worth clicking on.

Weekly bounce rate from the home page

Is the site that dull? I’m going start with the hypothesis that it is not — that the problem is mostly that we’re not doing enough on the home page to put our best foot forward to fully engage readers in our work.

How do we do that? It’s starts with interactive copy editors and news editors critically asking the questions above. It’s getting the right stories on the home page and the best stories featured most prominently. It’s about taking as much care in optimizing the home page headlines and excerpts as we take in crafting story-level headlines optimized for search. On the home page, the optimization is not about satisfying Google’s spiders and search-engine users; it’s about satisfying our local readers. More often than not, we should be overriding the SEO headline and writing engaging, conversational headlines for the home page. That’s easily done at the layout level in the Django system.

What else does the home page need to liven it up? What routine will we work into the ICE shifts to make it happen?