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Next week we’ll be asking you to become a Member of The Local. This is why

Why, after a decade of being completely free, are we asking loyal readers of The Local to become paying Members? Founder and Chief Publishing Officer James Savage explains.

Next week we’ll be asking you to become a Member of The Local. This is why
In the same week that we founded The Local in Germany, exactly a decade ago in March 2008, another website had some big news. Facebook, a popular social networking site with a million active users in the German-speaking countries, released a German-language version of its site. Germans would now be able to “anstupsen” their friends, instead of poking them. 
The site’s translation, in true collaborative fashion, had been carried out for free by its own users.
“Including English and Spanish, the addition of the German version of Facebook means the site is now available in three languages,” The Local reported at the time.
Fast forward a decade and much has changed. Facebook has gone from being a collaborative site in search of a business model to one of the most powerful, wealthy and controversial companies in the world. Along with Google they have also snapped up a huge portion of global advertising – largely at the expense of publishers like The Local. 
You’ll notice that The Local still carries advertising. Indeed, we are proud to work with some wonderful brands, many of which tell us that advertising on The Local is by far the most cost-effective form of advertising they have.
But in this environment, advertising alone can never reliably fund the kind of service we want to offer you, our readers. Our journalists know Germany, speak (at least) two languages and are dedicated to helping foreigners in the country understand the politics, the culture and the challenges of living here. We believe that this is worth something to our readers.
This is why from next week we will be asking our loyal readers to become paying Members. 
In return for a small amount every month, we will give you greater depth, with insights into the big issues facing Germany. You'll still be able to read a few articles every month for free, but after that we will ask you to pay. Some more in-depth articles will be for Members only.
We will also provide more help, with articles on the practical challenges of living here – everything from how the diesel ban affects you to how to become a citizen.
But becoming a Member of The Local is not a one-way street. This is about building a new, collaborative relationship between us and our readers. It puts the power at The Local where we want it to be: with international residents of Germany. We'll be feeding back our Members' input into our editorial decisions, to help you determine how we can serve you best.
We're working with partners to offer you discounts on products and services chosen to be useful to people living international lifestyles. And we also want to give you new opportunities to network in real life.
We think that for five euros a month, being a Member of The Local gives you something special, and will ensure that The Local can keep getting better at covering Germany for the international community, long into the future. We hope you will consider joining us.

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What The Local’s new design means for you

You may have noticed that The Local looks quite different today. Here’s how our new design makes it easier to get around the site.

What The Local’s new design means for you

After several years with the same design we decided last year that it was high time to give the site a makeover. For one thing we wanted it to look nicer, but most importantly the new design is aimed at making it quicker and easier for you to find what you need without hassle.

You will notice, for example, that the site has a new menu bar that will direct you to the most popular categories. The example below is taken from our France edition but you will find variations on the same menu items on all our country sites. 

You won’t be surprised to learn that we are hoping to retire the Covid-19 category as soon as possible. 

On the desktop version of the site, if you hover your mouse over a category title you will find some of the most important related topics. 

If you click on one of the main categories in the menu bar you will find links to what are currently the most popular related topics. 

On the homepage, each article’s main topic will be displayed above the headline so you can quickly click or tap your way to more articles on that subject. 

You will also find more topics at the bottom of every page that will take you to related articles. 

One significant change is the introduction of a feature that will automatically load up a new article for you once you have got to bottom of the page.

Similarly, articles (like this one) that are not affected by the paywall will show an unlocked padlock. 

If you want to search for a particular topic the search tool is prominently displayed at the top left of the desktop and mobile sites. On desktop it’s just under the dropdown menu you can use to switch editions. 

As a members of The Local you will be able to quickly access your account details and update your newsletter preferences using the buttons in the top right. 

If you are not yet a member you can cast your eyes to the top of the site to see offers that are such good value you will wonder what you’re waiting for. Now really is as good a time as any to join. 

READ ALSO: How The Local’s members are helping us get better

We have also worked hard on significantly speeding up the site, which we hope will make your visits to The Local more enjoyable. 

You are sure to notice plenty of other changes as you get familiar with the new design. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to producing independent journalism that leans heavily on dialogue with our readers. 

With this in mind, we would love to hear from you if you have any feedback on the new design or suggestions for improvements. You can drop us a line at [email protected] or, if you are a member, you will as always be able to let us know what you think in the comments below the article. 

Thanks for reading, and we hope you like the new look!