But the design of the site will hinge, in large measure, on the content the site offers moving forward. The Journal, at the moment, offers its product free online. But newspapers around the country are moving to put at least some of their content behind "pay walls."

The strategy is twofold: it aims to boost the bottom line for websites that have proven poor profit centers; and it seeks to drive some readers back to the more lucrative paper-and-ink version.

As the Phoenix first reported last month on its "Not for Nothing" blog, the Journal is planning a sort of half-step. Newsroom sources say the paper will offer brief versions of its stories on the website for free. The idea is to sate online readers interested in a quick fix, while giving those interested in the complete story a reason to buy online access to the full piece or, preferably, pick up the more profitable print version of the paper.

But getting increasingly harried readers to pay for the "complete" story from a newspaper that no longer delivers the depth it offered up 10 or 20 years ago will be a challenge.

And that makes getting the website right all the more important. Indeed, if Rhode Island's paper of record is to thrive, a stronger site — a site that looks and feels like the rest of the Internet — seems something like a necessity.

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