When we decided to redesign our IdahoStatesman.com website, we figured that we’d get as many complaints as compliments. After all, change is hard for everyone.
But based on the feedback since we launched the new website Feb. 7, we were wrong. Really wrong. About 70 percent of the people who took the time to get in touch with us are happy with the redesign.
Most people told us they like how the site loads faster and is less cluttered. That’s particularly satisfying feedback, since those were two of our biggest goals with the redesign.
Even users who weren’t happy gave us useful feedback. Over the past few days, we’ve tried to quickly fix the things that we can fix easily. Other suggestions will either take more time to accomplish, or we simply can’t do them for a variety of reasons.
Here is a quick look at some of the changes we’ve made so far, based on the helpful feedback our users have given us:
• Readers said it was difficult to find the Outdoors section. Roger Phillips and Pete Zimowsky appreciate that they have loyal fans online!
To make our homepage less cluttered, we had to make some difficult choices. We have limited numbers of navigation pull-downs and story digests on the homepage. For instance, we do have an Opinion navigation button that sends you to the Opinion content, but there’s no place below on the homepage where Opinion content is displayed as a “digest.” We do have Living and Outdoors digests on the homepage, but they no longer have their own navigation button up top.
To make it easier to find Living and features content, we are adding more links under the main Entertainment navigation button. You’ll be able to click through to the Living section, horoscopes, recipes and Carolyn Hax's advice columns from that Entertainment pull-down.
• We are adding more ways to find the blogs. For example, you’ll now be able to find the Idaho Politics blog (written mostly by Dan Popkey) on the homepage, and the Idaho Politics page.
• Some readers missed the extended forecast. We took it off the top of the pages as we cleaned up the design. But you can still find the extended forecast on weather page or by clicking on the upper-righthand weather icon. And of course, we’ll still be writing stories about the weather. (Some of you say you don’t need us to tell you how cold it is, but those stories are always among the most-read stories on our site.)
• Some readers also complain about the pop-up ads. We know they annoy some readers, but they help pay the bills that let us keep providing you with a website that you’ve come to depend on.
One of the advantages of our redesign is we will be able to test new ideas and get feedback based on user behavior. So as we continue to work on IdahoStatesman.com, you might see a new element or a box in a different position as we see what works best. Keep letting us know what you think. Feel free to email myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or editor Vicki Gowler (email@example.com). Or use the feedback form on the customer service page. We’ve changed the character count so that you can write more — so keep letting us know what you think!
Online Initiatives Editor