Travis F. Smith, the owner of Hop Studios, has been building major Web sites since 1995, specializing in making huge and unwieldy content-driven sites appear simple and elegant to the everyday user. Smith’s first commercial Web site turned out fairly well—it’s the Web site of the Los Angeles Times, where he was deputy editorial director during the site’s conception and launch. Some LATimes.com firsts: The first Internet-only credit card gateway (for selling archived stories online), and “Hunter,” the first Web-based personal news service branded as a dog (Hunter also answered customer service emails).
Smith helped launch, then relaunch the site, then moved to Paris for a year’s sabbatical and served as European bureau chief for the Online Journalism Review, covering the nascent online journalism industry. His next employment was at Pressflex, a Budapest, Hungary-based newspaper site ASP where he was vice president of client relations for clients in four countries.
He returned to Los Angeles in 2000 to become the editor of Variety.com, the international newspaper of record for the entertainment business. The site tripled in revenue, traffic and total articles over the next three years, while only increasing the staff by 12%. Variety.com won several major awards under Smith’s stewardship, and was the first newspaper to offer RSS feeds, as well as one of the first to publish a blog.
From 1997-2004, he lectured at the University of Southern California on online journalism theory and practice, teaching the first online journalism course offered in California. He also wrote freelance articles for various newspapers and magazines, and started his own blog.
In 2004, he started a Web design, development and consulting firm, Hop Studios, http://www.hopstudios.com, and moved to Vancouver, Canada, to enjoy the rain and fog. He graduated from USC with a B.A. in Print Journalism in 1994.