Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sneak peek: What the new Orion website might look like

I'd like to get staff members' reactions and opinions about The Orion's new website template. Please post comments to this post with your thoughts. Remember this is a draft I created based on the demo site the template creators put together, probably not the final version.

Here are some of the highlights based on the home page opening screen shown above:
• The small headlines across the top of the page are what's called "sticky posts." The editors will be able to take any story on the website and designate it for that display treatment. One of the positions will be reserved for an ad (if you click on the image, you'll be able to see a larger, more readable version). The headlines link to the full story.
• The breaking news scroll (next to The Orion nameplate) is something the editors were looking for specifically in a new template. The headlines are the actual headlines of stories that appear on the site, which could be news briefs written from the paper's Twitter feeds.
• The big black dot can be used to highlight anything on the website, but it'll be available as a text-only ad. It isn't possible to link the information in the dot to a story or other URL.
• Social media links appear on the right side of the banner and would link directly to The Orion's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other accounts. The Newsletter link could disappear or become an Instagram link (or maybe Videolicious).
• The All Sections tab opens a full menu of inside sections and stories (the navigation could also be displayed in a row across the home page). Here's what the expanded All Sections navigation looks like:

• The main print story section on the left side of the page is a feed of stories placed in one particular section of the website and appear in the order in which they're uploaded, with the most recent at the top. The headlines are the headlines that appear on the actual stories, and the art is the art that appears with the story inside the site. While News is the most logical section to display here, a special section could be created to feature a mix of stories from different sections. The demo displays seven stories in this space, but the settings can be changed to display more or fewer.
• The middle section (with a static shot of the daily webscast shown here) is called the Gallery. It's on a user-activated scroll and, like the breaking news scroll on main news section, based on stories posted to a section. In this case, I created a new section called Gallery and placed coding into the post so a real Orion webcast would be embedded on the page and appear in this home page position. Other gallery posts could be stories on any topic with strong art (video, illustration or video). One of the gallery positions can be sold as an ad.
• The ad on the right side of the page is called a wide skyscraper. Most of the ad will appear when the home page is loaded, making it an extremely valuable bit of home page real estate that the ad staff will sell at a premium. There are no other display ad positions farther down the home page, which makes this slot even more valuable.
• What you can't see (the lower two-thirds to three-fourths of the page) are areas for each section of the website (features, entertainment, opinions, sports, videos) that display an image, headline and tease for two to five stories. Also available to the editors is an instant poll feature, an area with three tabbed display modules for most popular posts, comments and tags (like a Wordle), a menu of the most recent three stories in each section and a more graphically attractive horizontal listing of Orion social media feeds.

Here's what the bottom of the home page looks like in the demo:

So, what do you think?

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