Tampa Bay Times reimagined website debuts today
If you're reading this blog post, you already know something very different has happened to the Tampa Bay Times website and my own little corner of that world, The Feed.
Developed from discussions which began a little over two years ago, the Tampa Bay Times today debuts a technologically overhauled website, configured to better show off the breadth of the content on Tampabay.com, while also providing new opportunities for the newspaper to earn advertising revenue.
The Times tackled a host of issues in the redesign, seeking to make the site look cleaner and more appealing; creating an adaptive design which could change shape depending whether you view it on desktop, mobile device or tablet; making the search functions work better; highlighting the video material and photos on the site, and making our interface with social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest more seamless.
A web design consulting company, 352 Media, helped with the project and the site's content management system came from another firm, Autonomy. The goal: to provide a better experience for people who visit the website, provide some new and increased positions for advertising and allow for a more effective and prolific use of video.
"For years we've had a website with a huge audience -- but nonetheless a digital experience that didn't quite match the excellence of the content that was on it," Tampa Bay Times editor Neil Brown told me. "So it was time to invest in new technology so that the Tampa Bay Times readers and advertisers would have digital options via TampaBay.com that were as strong as our print products."
My own pet peeve with our past website design was that individual stories on the site were often drab and looked unappealing. The reimagined version offers better-looking online versions of our stories, with more opportunities to add enticing pictures and connections to related stories users can access with a mouse click (there’s also a photo of the writer next to the story, in case you’re wondering what we look like).
Our blog posts also look a little different, re-emphasizing photos in a different way and increasing use of the videos from News Distribution Network; a company which also places advertisements alongside its videos, allowing for a bit more monetization. And blog posts are more readily integrated into the mix of material on the site, allowing readers to find the work in multiple places.
As with any new digital experience, the best way to learn the shape of things will be to spend some time exploring the site.
For example, hover your mouse cursor over any one of the bold subject headings at the top of the page -- “news,” “politics” or “sports" – and a menu pops up with further subject choices and story links. Double click on the subject heading and a new page comes up featuring the material from that section arranged to fit your screen.
The entertainment stuff is found under both "Things to Do" and “Features and more,” where you can see links to the Juice and Stuck in the ‘80s blogs, as well as coverage from the paper’s critics. But the direct link to this blog, The Feed, is under the "News" section and at the bottom of the homepage under the listing of blogs.
There's bound to be some hiccups as the new website debuts; those of us write blogs, for example, have to learn a new way of building our entries to fit the new look of the site (you may have noticed this blog post changed a bit throughout the day as we got a better handle on formatting issues). Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section; but bear in mind, it's the first day of a long pocess.
Looks like we're all starting a bold online adventure together.