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Welcome to the new look of voiceofsandiego.org! After much planning and work by a lot of people, we’re proud to unwrap this for you. Dig in.

This website revision tries to answer these questions:

• What’s new?

• What’s important?

We’ve still got some tweaks to do, but there are some things we’d like you to notice that help answer those two questions:

• In the upper left corner of the home page, what we call the “blue box” is now larger, mainly to fit a larger photo. You’ll find our most compelling stories there. (By the way, the “blue box” is only blue on badly calibrated monitors, or if you’re our CEO, who is three kinds of colorblind. It once was blue, so we still call it that. That’s how jargon is born!)

• This Just In (to the right of the blue box, and also at its own URL) now reflects all of our staff content and other choice items from contributors. Before, it was curated to focus on just the shorter blog posts from our news staff. Now, TJI (we pronounce it “tih-jee”) is a more comprehensive stream, a place where you can go to follow the narratives of San Diego’s story.

• It’s clear many people are constantly checking our home page — it’s our most-visited page — throughout the day to see what has changed, so we answered that behavior by making it an even better jumping off point for news, ideas and debate. The home page now includes more stories overall and more of it is higher up on the page, “above the fold” as they say even in the online news business.

When I first worked on a website project (as part of the team that created the first Snapple website 15 or more years ago), there was no one at the table who could speak with any authority about what web users wanted, how they typically behaved, and what they might want in a website for a collection of fruity drinks and teas. Few people existed anywhere in the world who had that knowledge.

Fifteen years and a gazillion data points later, what people want in a website, and in particular, what they want in a news website, is easier to determine. As you can see by the changes we’ve made, we’re putting a lot of current thinking to work, without falling all over ourselves to have the latest gewgaws and gimcracks. Over the coming days, you’ll see even more of it move into place.

Of course, there are compromises. Sometimes a designer’s vision gives way to what is possible with the technology. Sometimes it’s a function of time, or cost, or simply understanding when “good” and “diminishing returns” are at high points. You can read about some of this in an interview I did with Ashley Lewis, who donated her time to provide the core look and feel of the new voiceofsandiego.org. She’s the one who most deserves the praise that is coming in via email, Twitter and telephone.

Big thanks also to:

Dagny Salas, our web editor, who continues to be the one person who knows best how to discern the intentions of editors, writers, and designers and make them appear reliably upon the screen.

Tomasz Ciesielczyk of TownNews.com, who converted our design ideas into code.

Sandi McDaniel of TownNews.com, who served as the organization’s project manager on this. TownNews is the maker of Blox, our content management system.

Andrew Donohue, our editor, and Scott Lewis, our CEO, for being willing to try new things and discard pet ideas, but also to press forward on their best ideas until others agree.

Sam Hodgson for the great new staff photos.

Our donors who make it all possible.

By the way, here are two past looks for the site. Click through to see the larger version archived on the Wayback Machine.

2005

2007

I’m Grant Barrett, the engagement editor for voiceofsandiego.org. Drop me a line at grant@voiceofsandiego.org or call me (619) 550-5666 and follow me on Twitter @grantbarrett. I’m still looking for your recommendations of books covering San Diego’s recent history.

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