Statistics compiled each month undoubtedly show that a lot of people make use of the Houston Herald’s website, www.houstonherald.com.

But even though thousands upon thousands of folks regularly log on, I know from first-hand contact that some are missing out on much of what the site has to offer. About a year and a half ago, I did a column that was sort of a tutorial on how to utilize some of its many features, but

based on comments I frequently hear, I thought I’d do it again – especially since the site went though a major change last spring.

With that in mind, here are a few basic things to consider.

On the home page, right under the big Houston Herald logo, there’s a horizontally arranged list of other pages that can be accessed, and accompanying drop-down lists of sub-pages. These lists allow for all kinds of options, like reading what’s happening on the “news” page, keeping track of who died, who was born and who was married under “records,” finding out how local teams and athletes fared under “sports,” and even posting your own stuff under “your stories” and “submit.”

Yep, you can post your own news and photos on the Houston Herald website. You can share your nephew’s success after he knocks down his first three-point shot in a middle school basketball game, make sure your grandmother gets due recognition for winning the blue-ribbon in the savory pie category at the Silver Dollar Fair in Chico, Calif., or post a photo of yourself in at the family reunion in Kenosha, Wis.

Personally, I like the “your stories” feature a lot, because I believe there’s a misconception that the gigantic staff at the Herald should know about every newsworthy moment or situation related to Texas County and always has someone available to get the story and the pictures. Actually, we’re sometimes the last to hear about things, and you can count on a hand that’s missing almost every finger how many people we have available at a given moment.

Then there’s the “multimedia” option that allows access to photo galleries and video clips of events and incidents, and even the chance to purchase photos.

This option apparently has many fans, because some galleries amass staggering “view” totals. But I know even more views are possible, because over the years I’ve directed several people to a gallery who didn’t know it was there. 

And for folks who have enough spare time that they can squander some of it viewing previous versions of this column, they’re posted on the “columns” page that can be found under the “news” header. And thanks to the website’s makeover earlier this year, there are now a whole bunch of “guest columns” viewable, too.

As I said in the 2014 version of this cyber-educational escapade, what I think is one of the website’s neatest features (and perhaps its best-kept secret, even thought it’s in plain sight) is the little “search” window on the home page. To find it, look just to the right of the previously mentioned horizontal list (under the current temperature) and you’ll see a small icon that resembles a magnifying glass. Mouse over it and a space appears in which the name of a person, place or thing can be plugged in, and related stories and pictures dating back years will pop up.

It’s really quite amazing – like a time travel portal.

I sometimes hear people say, “I wish I could see the so-and-so story because I missed it,” or “I’d love to send my cousin’s friend’s brother in Bismarck a link to the such-and-such story, but I I forgot to do so when it was current.” This “search” feature could well be the ticket.

Something that didn’t exist on the old site is the “Flyerboard” feature. It looks like a bulletin board with flyers tacked on it – hence the name –and can easily be found on the right side of the home page by scrolling down just a bit.

Here’s what’s cool: the posted “flyers” are digital versions of ads that appeared in the most recent edition of the printed Herald (and Messenger). Click the little “view all” banner and you’ll see a whole bunch of them. Click on any particular one and watch what happens – a neat interactive page pops up with options to see a description of the business or organization in the ad, a map of where it’s located and even website and social media links.

And, of course, there are many more digital-only ads you’ll see on the website. Be advised that clicking on any of them will route you to that advertiser’s website or some other related page.

One more thing with a connection to the Herald’s website is the “text alert” feature made available thanks to a few valued sponsors (Intercounty Electric, Romines Motor Co. and State Farm Insurance). If you sign up for it, you can choose to receive texts on your cell phone in any or all of several categories, including weather (sent at 6:45 a.m. daily), breaking news, sports scores, Houston school closings and death notices.

Signing up can be done on the website (see the drop-down menu under “news” on the home page), by calling 417-967-2000, or by stopping by the Herald office on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston. All that’s needed is your name, cell number and cellular carrier.

The best part about the text alert program? It’s free.

Anyway, most users of www.houstonherald.com are probably tech-savvy enough to already know most of what I’ve pointed out here. But I hope this this little set of tidbits opens up a few new windows of opportunity for others who are more digitally-challenged.

And this represents only part of what’s possible on the site – there’s way more to discover. Enjoy.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. His columns are posted on the blog page at www.houstonherald.com. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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