Redesigns at The Gainesville Sun
For the last two months, I’ve been in Gainesville, Fla. helping The Gainesville Sun with redesigns of their network of sites. Now that I think about it, redesign isn’t really the correct word. That implies a new look for the same old site. This has been a website overhaul.
Earlier this week, we unveiled redesigns of two of the sites, Gainesville.com and GainesvilleSun.com. My responsibilities in this project encompassed the creation of front-end templates and the managing of functionality used by our online producers. For this project, we used a different approach than I’m used to. We created the site quickly and pushed it live, although the templates were not completely finished. Because the previous site was so outdated, even a not-so-poslished redesign would serve our users better than the old site. In today’s online news, speed is clearly a priority.
The new Gainesville sites offers some interesting functionality that I haven’t seen done elsewhere. While browsing the site, users may see a news alerts (see example below). News alerts are little messages that appear no matter where you are on the website whenever a breaking news story is posted. It has a similiar feel to an email application notifyinig you of a new incoming message. This really gives power to the newsroom allowing them to feature their breaking news content more prominiently, without annoying our users (news alerts can be permanantly disabled with the click of a button).
There will be many, many changes to come as we polish the user experience over the next month. However, if you spend any amount of time on the site, you’ll still see a lot of interesting ways on how we tried to improve the online news experience. Hopefully some of the new ideas will catch on.