This week the Town-Crier unveiled a major redesign of the newspaper’s web site, found at www.gotowncrier.com.
The change brings a number of new features to the site, including a sliding image opener linked to slideshows from major social events covered that week, easier-to-find lead news stories broken out by community, more complete social media integration, and a focus on signature Town-Crier content such as our featured columnists and web-only Town-Crier videos.
While we made cosmetic changes to the site three years ago, the changes rolled out this week mark the first major reboot at gotowncrier.com since 2004. Internet technology has changed dramatically since then, and our newly formatted site is designed to take advantage of those changes and provide readers with a modern, easy-to-navigate, feature-rich web experience.
Our new format also allows news stories to be cross-linked into multiple categories, letting readers more easily find content they are interested in. Stories are categorized by both subject and topic. For example, an equestrian-related Wellington story can be found under the Wellington category with other Wellington articles, and under the Equestrian category with equestrian-related articles from all communities.
Behind the scenes, the changes are also dramatic. The site is built on the popular WordPress programming package, which allows gotowncrier.com to be fully customized with its own unique theme. WordPress also offers tools for search engine optimization, easy sharing of stories across social networks and the ability for users to more easily comment on articles.
And the change will also make our own lives easier here at the Town-Crier by providing better e-mail service and more in-depth statistical details on how readers are using the site.
While it might take some time for regular readers to get used to the new site, we believe it will be a positive experience. All the popular sections remain, even if they have been moved around. For example, the popular Digital Issue, which shows the actual newspaper in digital format, used to be found at the top left in the category list. It can now be found in the center of the top menu above the flag. Also, the Headlines listing, which used to run down the right side of the home page, has been moved to its own section, also accessed from the top menu above the flag.
As with all change, there will be growing pains. Perhaps the largest will be that the URL naming format has changed to a more modern standard. This means that third-party links to old Town-Crier articles will no longer work, and it will take some time for major search engines to update their findings to our new format. It will also take some time for the online archive to build back up. Right now, it includes articles going back to February of this year. We apologize to anyone who has been inconvenienced by these changes, which were necessary as we overhauled the site.
As always, your comments are welcome. Please feel free to send your thoughts and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.