We’re launching a redesign of our website this week in an effort to make the site more appealing to you in the way it is organized and how it looks. It’s the first major design change since 2008.
The website is a critical tool in a newspaper’s daily effort to provide readers with the latest news and information, and we are confident that readers will quickly notice stories are easier to find and that photographs are displayed in more visually appealing formats. The number of readers who visit our website or follow us on a mobile device is increasing dramatically each year, so we took great care in developing the new design that preserves the very best of what we do.
One significant change involves the navigation bar. The new navigation bar at the top of every page has prominent links that will take you to your preferred topics, be they news, opinion, features, entertainment, sports or blogs.
Three months ago, the newsroom staff began transforming to what is called a digital-first publishing strategy. Simply put, digital first means posting stories and photos as news happens throughout the day. The redesign and a recent upgrade of our editing software will help display our new emphasis on posting content more quickly and consistently.
A key component of the redesign strategy is to make the digital presentation feel similar to reading the print edition of the paper. We achieved this by using many of the same fonts and organizing the content into sections that echo the look and feel of the printed paper. The goal of tying print and digital more noticeably is designed to strengthen The Spokesman-Review brand and reach, an approach that a number of newspapers have adopted.
One element of the site that remains untouched for now is how readers comment on stories. Many news organizations have been experimenting with ways to make online commenting a more engaging and thoughtful exchange of ideas. We’ll be considering ways to improve the community conversation here as well.
The new design only affects our desktop, tablet and mobile devices. The E-edition, which is a digital replica of the print edition, will remain unchanged in its format and how it’s accessed.
Another goal of the redesign is to make the habit of using our site so much easier that readers will want to spend more time reading our content once they see how convenient it is to find. Our digital-first approach also helps us to enrich our storytelling with better-integrated photos, videos, maps and links to previous stories on related topics.
Our newsroom Web team of Gina Boysun, Dan Gayle and Caroline Pate started working on the redesign months ago. We have thoroughly tested the changes, but we are aware that once readers begin using the new format they’ll discover bugs or issues we hadn’t encountered in the development stage. We welcome reader comments and are providing a special contact form on the site so that you can send us errors you encounter and questions about where a feature you regularly rely on is now located. We also have posted a page of frequently asked questions to help explain the changes and guide you through the new site.
As we begin adjusting to a new year with its challenges and opportunities, let me thank all of our readers, in print and online, for your continued support and interest in what we do.