Gotham Gazette, our website about New York City policy and politics, unveiled its redesign recently. (Please take a look and let me know what you think by emailing grobinson at gothamgazette.com).
For our readers, we hope the redesign will create a more useful publication by making it easier for visitors to find information about New York City issues. For our advertisers — who we hope will increase in number — it offers more space and more options. And for the GG staff, it reflects our evolution — and to some extent, the web’s evolution — over the past decade.
When Gotham Gazette launched in fall 1999, its publisher, the Citizens Union Foundation, wanted to use the power of the web to engage and inform citizens about local government. As part of that, Gotham Gazette included links to all the news sources in the city, as well as to government sites, a variety of organizations, and so on. Back then, that was unusual. Many sites would not link to other sources.
Aside from those links, though, Gotham Gazette in its early days resembled a print publication. We posted most of our stories at the beginning of the week and left them up for seven days. We did offer a daily news digest but rarely, if ever, updated the site during the day. And, of course, interactivity had not yet emerged.
Over the years, the web changed and with it, so did Gotham Gazette. Under former editor Jonathan Mandell, we began creating news games and added a blog — the Wonkster — to provide updates and short items. We increasingly focused on original reporting and commentary. Recently, we began posting more content throughout the week, offering multimedia, and creating interactive graphics.
While we continue to provide links and a daily news summary, we no longer have that field to ourselves, as even the blogs of some of the big N.Y. newspapers (such as the Daily News) link to material on our site and in other city media.
Focus on Original Work
With the redesign, we wanted to address these changes and give ourselves a more modern look. (There had been an interim redesign about five years ago, which brought us into the 21st century.) This involved an extensive effort by current and former Gotham Gazette staff, as well as valuable advice from the staff and board of our parent organization. As a veteran of several print redesigns, I found that the challenge of making one work online — on a site with hundreds of pages — at times seemed overwhelming.
This latest incarnation of Gotham Gazette focuses on our original work, while still offering the daily news summary and links to the best resources on New York City. We will also roll out more stories throughout the week. Articles are now listed and archived by subject area (art, environment, health) instead of labels (such as issues of the week and feature), which meant something to us but not to our readers. And we’ve done a major housecleaning.
The design was largely the work of former web producer, Ya-Hsuan Huang. Our technical director, W. JaVon Rice, played the key role in making her mockups a working reality.
We think our redesign represents a major step forward. Of course, we know we must continue to evolve. As part of that, we plan to launch our first crowdsourcing project in the coming months (more on that in a future post.) And, as always, we seek new ways and new formats to keep our readers informed about the city that engages, enchants and infuriates them.