Monday, February 10, 2014

A home page ready for contest

Orion Managing Editor Ernesto Rivera has apparently been putting in major hours tinkering with the home page at because it looks amazing. He's replaced some of the template section styles lower on the page and took a figurative screw driver to tighten up the opening page.

The image that fills the screen when visitors navigate to the site now shows two or three main stories on the left news-section module with little unnecessary white space. The photo gallery controls are still being unreliable about whether they're going to kick into a second line and create too much white space above the photo scroll, but otherwise all the elements work together to present an economic and extremely newsy "front page."

The big changes, though, happen down the page. Look at how the new arts and sports modules are configured.

Both use a representative photo under the section name to announce the type of content visitors are likely to see when they access this part of the page. The photo is flanked by the most recent four stories from the section.

Arts is actually a new addition to the home page, and the right-most position in this new module displays an important addition, the calendar, which has now moved from the print edition to online. The move makes great sense because the events listing can be updated daily instead of once a week. Arts Editor Nicole Santos deserves credit for making the calendar a focal point of the section.

The sports module isn't new, but it does employ a new style that also brings consistency to the lower half of the home page. The right-most column in this section is devoted to Tweets from the sports staff, showing off breaking game and match coverage that the section's followers have been enjoying only on Twitter, a strength of the section and its reporters.

This tweaking of the website comes just in time for the Associated Collegiate Press convention in San Diego at the end of the month and the national Pacemaker competition for college websites. I think the changes boost The Orion's chances of taking home some impressive awards this spring!

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