Why Websites Are to News What Compact Discs Were to Music

11/12/2013 11:30 | Updated 10 February 2014

We've all got them, stuffed away in the loft gathering dust. Those awkwardly designed CD holders (which never looked quite right displaying your beloved music collection) are a thing of the past. And why? Because CDs are dead; consigned to the bargain basement of life, nestled alongside corpses of cassette tapes and decomposing mini discs.

Unlike vinyl - the vintage plates of liquorice coloured loveliness - CDs will never experience a renaissance. Like newspapers, vinyl oozes class and nostalgia. They represent moments in cultural history. They are more than the music playing via printed grooves or the words printed on pages. Vinyl and newspapers entertain all the senses. The smell of the card and ink, the feel of the product. These timeless traits mean people will always love them. Maybe in hugely reduced numbers, but they will always be brilliant.

CDs, if you recall, were supposed to be the future. But now we've all got forgotten boxes of over-priced metallic discs stacked up in corners of our homes. I bloody hate CDs. Thank you digital download music for stepping in and ridding us of this evil. The only downside is there's now no default option for a lazy Birthday/Christmas gift.

Let's apply the experience of CDs to news - there's a similar pattern. I'd argue that websites are to news, what CDs were to music. News organisations in particular have struggled with the move from print to profitable digital. Victims of the transition litter the way. Only this week the 158-year-old Liverpool Post closed.

Since about 2004 newspapers have done what they think is the future. That gap has been filled by websites. To that end, millions have been spent on swanky looking sites with complex home pages and stylised channel pages.

Writers have worked on desktop computers, producing work on desktop content management systems, to provide desktop experiences for desktop readers. But here's the thing. Just like CDs, desktop publishing is quickly becoming the past.

Speak to anyone who works in 'digital' journalism and they'll tell you that the reader has changed. The future is firmly with mobile. Traditional newspaper sites (actually non-traditional news sites too) are seeing record traffic on mobile devices. It's not surprising. When was the last time you managed to prise your eyes away from the screen long enough to notice that hot guy/girl who might have noticed you too if they'd not been looking at their own mobile screen?

Publishers must think in terms of mobile first strategies, they need to work out how not to be bound by desktop computers so they can publish beautiful mobile experiences in the way TV or radio journalists use desktop computers to create content in their own format. The smart publishers will be doing it already.

Social and sharable media, while not totally replacing websites, is getting there. Desktop, website experiences, once the saviour of publishing, are flat as a pancake. A decline is probably coming as mobile gets faster, cheaper and basically better. Of course there's problems with mobile, video playing being one, but one day in the not too distant future I'm pretty sure, that like CDs, websites as we know them, will be gone.