Open Thread: Site Tweaks

by Latoya Peterson

So, things look a bit different around the old homestead.

The most important thing to note is the BETA tag on the top left – it means that we are constantly changing and tweaking to create the new look for Racialicious. Since we didn’t raise as much money as we needed in the $2 drive, we are essentially on a limited roll out. You see the new logo and site basic design now. We need to refine a few things (I’m not quite happy with the sidebar color combos, the original event calendar I downloaded doesn’t work with this theme, we need to fix the way things display in the feeds) but this is the base we will be working from. I’ll talk a bit more when I address the results of the fund raising drive (complete with a big thank you to the donors), but in essence this change reflects our shift toward different types of content.

Ads

As you may have noticed, our very first ad partner is Clarion West Writers Workshop! We are really pleased to advertise their writer’s workshop on Racialicious, particularly considering how many folks in our community are consumers and fans of science fiction and fantasy.

Our ad strategy at this point is small, direct sales. We’re essentially following Angry Asian Man‘s lead. We haven’t ruled out joining a network like Google AdSense or Blogher, but considering the audience here , it probably makes more sense to pursue advertising about events, conferences, pop culture, museum exhibits, books, and other things specifically geared toward the various communities on site. Eventually, you will also see an ad or two on the sidebar, once we have all the info we want presented in an appealing way.

Homepage Articles

We’ve already received our first complaint about the site design (and it’s only 8 hours old!) but fortunately, I agree with the assessment. The boxes that we have for the content are a little too limited at the moment. For one, I only really wanted to show the last six articles. Also, I would like the page to jump after the more tag we add into the articles, and not after a few lines. Also, the thumbnail image dynamic resizer is a bit off – it resizes everything from the center, so we are tweaking our photo gathering/adding process. This should sort itself out after a few days, after we figure out what parts of the code to adjust. (For folks who are really good with design/coding, we based the site off of this theme.)

Multimedia

The change in design features a shift to a more multimedia focused site. While our backbone will still be text blog posts, we would like to be able to highlight our series in a different way, branch out into some reporting, resurrect the podcast, and introduce short videos to the mix.

New and Improved Staff Page

Finally, the staff page is up and running with pics, bios, and links of all the special correspondents, and a tribute to our hall of famers.

FAQ Page

Still in process, the FAQs will answer some of the questions about the how and whys of the site, complete with links to read/learn more. This be done in a few weeks.

Blogroll/Recommended Reading

We never had a blogroll, because they are a pain to maintain, and tend to grow kind of unwieldy after a few years. (There’s also the whole weird blogroll politics thing – we get emails once a week from people we don’t know asking to be put on our blog roll for a return link.) So instead, we are going to add a Recommended Reading section to the R – one half of the page will be things we love, with links to work/blogs, and the other half will be the books, films, and other types of media recommended by the staff.

Mobile Compatibility

There are quite a few wordpress plug-ins that will convert your site to mobile ready with just the click of a few buttons. The problem though is that the mobile version of some sites are just crappy. As a person who accesses the internet through a smartphone and a tablet daily, it is really annoying to be automatically switched to some sub-standard mobile site that won’t allow you search…or even access the article you were trying to read. (I’m looking at you, Essence.) So, we are doing some research into how to make the site compatible with both plain feature phones AND smartphones without losing tons of functionality in the process. This is going to be tough, particularly considering we want more videos and more images. But we will find a way.

Events Calendar

As soon as we can, we will be adding an events calendar to our regular line up. We will accept user submissions, and post where different members of the Racialicious crew will be.

Accessibility

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the cash to develop for the Lynx browser/pursue speech-to-text software, so the accessibility part of the redesign is moving a bit slowly. The first big test will be how long we need to budget for transcribing ATR. We have a test episode (Episode 0) that I’ve been using to check different things – once that is transcribed, we will evaluate how ATR will function moving forward.

So that’s it on our end.

Questions, comments, requests, drop them in the comments.