News, blogs and community get the emphasis over the radio station's programming in the web design unveiled today (after months of use behind the scenes.) Nice to see: a news staff list with beats and bios for 78 reporters, producers, editors, hosts and others. Southern California Public Radio is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest newsrooms in the area, in any medium. True integration of the radio and web cultures is a ways off, from what station veterans tell me, with the arrival of print refugees such as ex-LA Times editor Russ Stanton and well-traveled newspaper and magazine editor Oscar Garza (as news editor) adding an interesting third slant. But it's all getting closer, from what I hear.
Here's the in-house note that went out yesterday from Alex Schaffert, director of digital media.
We are making final updates to the beta site in order to prepare for the relaunch this week.
The rollout of the redesigned site will happen tomorrow between 3 pm and 5 pm, after our local programs have aired and heavy commenting has subsided. Once the redesign is live the audience will see the new design. All our internal content management tools will function unchanged.
If you take a look at the beta site today you'll see all the latest features already implemented.
Some of the highlights are:
Responsive Design - KPCC.org is one of a handful of news sites to employ “responsive design,” a set of emerging technologies that allow a single website to dynamically adapt to a wide range of smartphones, tablets and desktops. 17% of our audience visits the website on a mobile device, and they now get to experience our full website with a design that tailors itself to the size of their device.
"In case you missed it" section on the home page. We will also roll out individualized “in case you missed it” sections for shows and blogs. This will allow us to more effectively surface the best content for our audience.
A pervasive video sidebar to showcase the work of our visual journalists across the site. This complements the brand-new video section, which has been designed to provide an elegant viewing experience by dimming the lights and putting videos in the foreground.
Updated pictures and bios of the news staff and a brand-new "About Us" page, which functions as an entry point for the audience to find out about the many ways they can connect with us.
Updated support pages which have been updated to reflect the new design
These latest improvements round out a deep list of new features that have been implemented over the course of the past six months, including:
Featured Comments: KPCC has a large community of intelligent, passionate and informed commenters, and the website now shines a spotlight on that community by featuring a daily rotation of the best comments left by our audience.
Redesigned navigation: Through extensive user research and testing, we redesigned our navigation and information architecture. The small set of initial categories, paired with large menus, connects people to destinations quickly, while also becoming a space to
surface KPCC’s freshest content and breaking news.
Redesigned Audio Player: Starting from the ground up, we have redesigned the experience and technology around listening to audio on the website. Our new audio player allows users to interact with audio without disrupting their reading experience. It also works well on smartphones and iPads.
Homepage Broadcast Bar: We know that many of the users who visit our homepage are looking to connect quickly with content related to our radio broadcast. We’ve made it easier to find the live stream, faster to find and access your favorite program, and we’ve added a new feature to the homepage: the Broadcast Bar. Near the top of the homepage, the Broadcast bar gives you a quick read on what’s on the air now and what’s coming up next.
A brand new Crawford Family Forum Section: KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum, our in-person events platform, connects people of all backgrounds and creates a space to engage in a face-to-face exchange of knowledge and ideas that is becoming increasingly rare in the digital era. The new Crawford Family Forum landing page showcases the vitality of the events we produce, and our homepage featured upcoming events more prominently.
As you know, the beta has existed side-by-side with the standard website for the past six months. This has allowed us to collect feedback and work out the details or the new design. Based on this work, and the positive feedback from the audience we collected, we are preparing to permanently switch over to the new design. Starting late tomorrow afternoon, a visitor who comes to KPCC.org will no longer see the old site or be prompted to log into the beta, they will simply see the new site.
We will continue to actively collect feedback from our audience to make sure the transition happens smoothly. Any major design and technology update will generate some unforeseen issues. In the days to come we will closely monitor to site to make sure all issues, big and small, are quickly resolved. You can help: If you see something that seems out of the ordinary, please make use of the orange "feedback" link that's visible on every page of the new site. This will be the fastest way to alert the programmers.
Following the relaunch tomorrow afternoon, we will announce the redesign to our audience on the air, on social media, and of course on the site itself. Craig is managing on-air promotion. Kim Bui is managing social media promotion and outreach to media outlets. Sean is preparing an interactive walk-through to introduce the audience to the new features.
This project would not have been possible without the work of an extremely talented technology team, led by Sean Dillingham. Bryan Ricker and Eric Richardson have put in long hours in order to ready all these new features for launch. Sean has been instrumental for the success of this project, working as an imaginative designer and a collaborative technology leader in order to move this project forward from inception to launch.
The result is one of the most ambitious digital platforms in the public radio system. The responsive design feature alone puts us into a different league, not just among public media organizations but among news organizations at large. I am extremely grateful to the technology team for creating the internal infrastructure and the external user experience which will fundamentally change how the audience engages with us across digital platforms and mobile devices. Please join me in congratulating Sean, Bryan, and Eric on a job well done.
If you have any questions about the redesign or Thursday’s relaunch please don’t hesitate to ask.
And to reward those of you who are still reading:
We will celebrate the launch of the new site with strawberry cake in the Hixon conference room Friday afternoon at 3 PM, details to follow.
Hope to see you there!