Dear Racing Post Online Editor,
It was with great shock that I, like many other site users, awoke this morning to find a much loved tool had been badly blunted in the night.
The old RP site was a thing of simple beauty – it did everything we wanted it to, and much more. All of the information we sought was in one place, load times were generally highly satisfactory, and content was available in a timely manner the day before.
The new RP site looks to be little more than a triumph of style over substance. It’s clearly been designed by people who know little about racing, and – worse – it’s clear that you have not consulted your readers (in sufficient numbers, if at all) to see what they wanted in a revamp. (As an example, only someone who knew nothing about racing would fail to add the sex of the animal in the pedigree section!)
Obviously, I understand the commercial imperatives that you are bound by, and that advertising and, I assume, premium (i.e. paid for) content will follow soon enough.
However, your management of this transition has been little short of botched.
You don’t need me to tell you that people don’t like change: they are afraid of it. People generally love what they have (although they may moan like stink about it). Take it away, and they will shout. Take it away without telling them and they will lose trust in you. And a subset will desert you for something they love less but now feel they know more.
The Sporting Life site, one of your main competitors in the racing sector, doesn’t have nearly as much content, nor as reliable a ‘tissue’ as RP. But it does have all the information a racing fan needs on a single page, and it will - I suspect - benefit considerably from your covert changes. Whether that is temporary or permanent remains to be seen, and will depend on how responsive you are now to the comments / complaints / suggestions of regular users.
I sincerely hope that this is the version 2.0 site, and that we will soon see something akin to a revision that actually works for people who care about racing and betting much more than they do about pretty graphics and self-indulgent sidebars.
For most, the RP site has always been about the core information, rather than editorial bluster. Please don’t change that fundamental principle of your product offering.
I’d be delighted to offer further thoughts on the new site layout, and how I think it could be changed for the better. (For instance, in this day of customisable content, why not let people choose the data attributes they want on the race card, like the BBC home page does? We have to sign in, so it’s easy enough to remember this info in a cookie).