Raleigh, N.C. – Welcome to the first full day for all readers to the new WRAL Local Tech Wire.

The transfer of domain names is complete, and the redesigned Web page is where we believe more people than before will come to get the latest news about technology, life sciences, venture capital and information entrepreneurs can use to grow their businesses.

For those of you who might have missed Friday’s explanation about what all is changing about Local Tech Wire as it nears birthday No. 5, we’re republishing much of the same information that was unveiled on new launch day.

LTW certainly looks much different than it did on Dec. 14. For example, you see two images on the front page, both linked to LTW stories about the Triangle’s booming interactive gaming community.

While LTW has made limited use of photos and graphics in the past, the move to a new design and publishing system developed by the tech gurus of Captiol Broadcasting Company’s New Medias Group (LTW’s parent) means that LTW will present more images than other. Soon, we’ll be adding video and audio feeds.

(Be sure to check out the redesigned WRAL.com. Many of the features you see there, such as faster loading video, will show up on LTW.)

To be honest, LTW has never been cutting edge in terms of technology. With the resources of the Capitol Broadcasting Company’s New Media Group and WRAL.com readily available, however, the new LTW is adding new features not supported before and is preparing to add more in the near future.

Since its launch during the “dot com” nuclear winter of January 2002, LTW has focused on content – i.e. written stories from the shortest of briefs to in-depth features, exclusives, profiles and interviews. That strategy produced a readership that reaches around the globe. Over the past year since LTW was acquired from its Charlotte founders by CBC New Media Group, the Web site’s editors have moved aggressively to incorporate more images, graphics, and fact boxes.

Other tools are available as of today, such as “reader ratings” and reader feedback.

We also have added stocks information and the capability of setting up your own online portfolios.

A greatly improved search engine soon will provide readers with their best access yet to a database that now numbers more than 15,000 stories.

The appearance of the LTW “front page” has changed dramatically, as you can see. A simpler package enables the display of a photo or graphic each day to accompany the top story.

Other content is grouped by category, such as Venture and Biotech/Life Science, so readers can more easily find stories of particular interest.

“The Skinny” will become a daily feature rather than occasional. And as you see at the bottom, there are links to the most recent postings.

LTW also will soon take advantage of features incorporated into the WRAL.com Web site, including video and audio feeds. Look for packages starting early in the new year that combine interviews both online and with video – and maybe a podcast or two.

One of LTW’s most popular features – the “First Edition” delivered each business day at 8 a.m. via an email blast – also has been redesigned. The update, which includes the top headlines and summaries from the previous 24 hours, more closely resembles the front page of the Web site.

Unfortunately, one feature is being set aside for the time being – the events calendar. It may be revived in a new format in the near future.

By making the site more visually appealing and interactive, the new LTW site should be more fulfilling as a news source.

However, the most important feature of LTW remains its locally produced content with stories covering high tech, venture capital, life science, entrepreneurship and interesting people from across the Carolinas and Georgia. The additional resources now available to LTW will enable the site to offer meaningful content in other ways – from video interviews to photo slide shows/stories and much, much more.

Feel free to send me your thoughts about what you are seeing and reading. How can LTW do a better job of meeting your needs and wants as readers? What features would you like to see added? What content?

Let us hear from you. We are making the site more interactive so that your voices can be heard better than before.

Note: Rick Smith is the editor and general manager of WRAL Local Tech Wire and one of its co-founders.