The anticipation of a site launch can be somewhat nerve-racking. We take our clients from strategy through to front-end code.The process takes months to work through. Stakeholders on both sides of table make decisions. Then, when everyone is agreed and code is delivered you wait. You wait for real people to marry deep technology to your design.
Today, The Toronto Star launched their new site. It was about 7am when I saw the Toronto Star redesign tweet on my phone. I couldn’t wait to get to the office and give it a thorough walkthrough. On the drive in I wondered how or if they had implemented the various news views and topic pages. I thought about the fit and finish – would it be polished?
“Determining the point at which you need to stop developing and get something live isn’t exactly a science”
Before I grabbed my coffee or took off my coat I opened a browser. It looked great. Of course, there are still quite a few differences from what we delivered, but that’s common in a release of this magnitude. It’s one thing to deliver a few dozen static templates but an entirely different one to bring it to life in a single release. Determining the point at which you need to stop developing and get something live isn’t exactly a science. There is risk on both sides of the equation and I think their decision to go live was a sound one.
Big congrats to the fine people at Torstar for pushing it live knowing it’s not finished (they say so themselves) “The new star.com is not a finished product – it will change as we go”. Now the focus shifts from getting it live to continually improving it. They can now analyze usage, collect feedback and most importantly, use it themselves to inform new releases. Working through issues in strategy decks, wireframes, static designs, working prototypes and development environments will never come close to using the real thing. I think it’s one hell of a good start and I look forward to seeing the new platform evolve.
A few highlights of the redesign
The optional news views remove much of the noise that gets presented on a traditional view.
Visual News looks stunning. It allows users to scan the news via images and small headlines. Try it out, I think it provides a refreshing perspective on the day’s events.
The last news view of this initial release is the Timeline View. It shows you every story published, in order, since you were last on the site.
This is far and away the best new feature of the site. I don’t always have time to follow every story as it unfolds. Topics offer deep coverage of stories and subjects. They aggregate stories, photos, videos and interactive pieces about people, sports teams, places and issues. Want to see what’s new with the Letterman story? Check out the David Letterman topic page for all the related material and milestones. The main topics page is also a nice place to start your experience.
Before & After Homepage