As you can see, we’ve changed the home page of AAN.org. At the risk of stating the obvious, let me describe the changes and explain why they were made.
The biggest change we’ve made is to eliminate the content sections in favor of a return to a more blog-like approach. We did this for several reasons:
- The old design was inflexible, and over time we found that it promoted form over content. More importantly, the page tended to be deceptively static and minor news items were often given too much prominence.
- The content sections themselves were often confusing, even to us, so I know they were confusing to readers. One section in particular — AAN Wire — was a mess, so we eliminated it completely and decided to name the entire news section AAN Wire instead.
- The old home page leaned too heavily on a single photo. We’ll still use graphics when they’re appropriate and easy to find, but they’ll be integrated more seamlessly into the page.
Our new home page organizes news like a blog, i.e., by date rather than content. (Users can still view the news by section by clicking the red section links that begin the tag line under each item.)
Each weekday, news will be organized into two different kinds of posts: Those that include a blurb summarizing a news item, and those that are presented merely as headlines. Generally speaking, news that is more important or more interesting to AAN members will be summarized.
The blurbed items will always appear above the headline-only links, and the posts in each of these two sections will be presented in reverse chronological order.
There’s another way in which the AAN.org home page is blog-like: Most of the news featured on the page originates from other sources. We’ve produced little original content lately as a result of personnel changes in the editorial department. When our new employees get settled — we’ll be hiring another person this week — we still plan to report our own stories on alt-weekly editorial and business matters, like we did earlier this year with the “How I Got that Story” series about the 2005 AltWeekly Award winners.
I also want to bring your attention to a minor change we made in the navigation bar on the right side of the page. (This change only applies to AAN members who are logged-in to the site.) At the bottom of the “My AAN” section there are two red links. The first link, identified as “Listservs,” was formerly called “Mailing List Archives.” The link still leads to the same page as before, but now that we’re using familiar nomenclature we anticipate a reduction in the number of AAN-member emails asking us, “How do I send a message to the listserv?” (In case you’re interested: “Listserv” is actually the name of proprietary messaging software that we don’t happen to use, which is why we originally avoided the term.)
The other red link, called “Resource Library,” leads to a treasure trove of documents, handouts, speeches, PowerPoint presentations and other information that may be useful to AAN members. Most of these resources derive from presentations at previous AAN conventions or conferences.
Although we’ve revised the structure of the home page, the look, feel and underlying architecture of the site hasn’t changed much. This “redesign” didn’t require a whole lot of work, and changes were made pretty quickly. Consequently, I’m sure we missed some mistakes so we’ll continue to fiddle with the site in the days to come.
In the meantime, if you have any suggestions about how the site can be improved, please give me a call (202-289-8484) or shoot me an email (rkarpel at aan.org).