Because some of the answers and feedback Cyclingnews posted yesterday was lost amongst the forum chat I've started this thread. It'll include all the relevant answers to your questions.
I’d like to start by thanking you again for your feedback. Whether it’s been good, indifferent or bad, as long as it’s constructive we’ll read it, take it on board and try and implement what we can, as best we can. That reads like political rhetoric but I sincerely mean it, as your feedback, opinions and ideas are what inspires me as the editor and my production team too. I know for a fact that when we one of our readers emails in with a compliment or praise it really touches us and drives us on. On the flip side, when we receive criticism or flack it also acts as a driving force for us to do better. Whatever the feedback, we always try and respond. So here’s a response to some of the queries and frustrations you’ve shared with us over the last 24 hours. If I’ve missed anything specific, I apologise and please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to chat with you.
Some of you have asked why we’ve redesigned the site. That decision wasn’t taken lightly but after significant research we reached the conclusion that the site needed work, and, we poured over a year of hard work, research and development into the project. Of course you’d be correct in assuming that there are commercial reasons for the new format too. It’s a fact that ad revenue, , is used to run, develop and maintain the site, We employ journalists in Australia, the UK, mainland Europe and North America which is expensive. It’s expensive to generate the depth and breadth of our coverage that we offer. While a lot of companies are standing still or cutting back we’ve followed our passion and backed it up with a new and exciting design with new and exciting features. It’s a fast-moving world where change is inevitable, and CN wants to be at the front of that force.
So we added extra functionality, and will continue to do so over the comings days and weeks as the transition from the old site smoothes over. For example, we’ve developed a results engine that allows us to format and upload results faster than before. Soon the results engine will tie into our riders and teams section, with added functionality. It’s not quite perfect yet but it’s going in the right direction.
There’s also the ability to post news in real time. This was a big win for the site, as while I think the editions were a fantastic addition (and we’ll get to editions shortly) CN was always hampered by the fact its competitors were able to post news in a more responsive manner. We’ve tried to improve our service by combining editions with single stories.
As yet the RSS feeds and newsletter functions are still waiting to be deployed but once they are they’ll make a big difference.
However there are bugs and the site isn’t working at 100 per cent capacity, and we accept that. What we’re not going to do is ignore, brush off or gloss over these issues. We’ll fix them and we’ll do it as fast as we possibly can. Here are some of the examples we’re working on.
Editions: We promised you that you’d be able to see your news in the same digestible manner as before. The editions are a legacy that CN has built up over the years and it’s something I never wanted to lose. It’s part of the site’s heritage after all.
To cut that story short, we are close to finding a fix, and like I’ve said it was a bitter pill to swallow when I realised that we’d be going live without them.
Speed of the site: To give you some background on this, the site used to run without a content management system, just flat page, after flat page. This was something that hindered our development and production and ultimately our ability to get news up fast. The site now runs with a content management system. You might assume that this slows down the site but from the tests we’ve run the site is actually quicker at loading than ever before.. We’ll also be making the site even quicker with new software in the coming weeks.
Missing functionality: I’m talking about all the things you loved on the old CMS that haven’t appeared or aren’t working in a manner that’s easy to find or understand. For example, race images, calendars and photo captions to name but a few topics. These issues are logged with our development team but what I’d like everyone to accept is that CN is a huge website. It has million and millions of pages with stored content with no content management system or sophisticated order. Transferring and replicating what we had on the old site was always going to be a mammoth job. In the cases of results, reports, articles, blogs, tech we’ve nailed it. There are some areas, like race images that haven’t worked yet, so please bear with us while we get to grips with these bugs and fix them. Once we’ve fixed each major bug we’ll be sure to drop into the forums to let you all know and ask for more feedback.
Navigation: This was always paramount in our minds when it came to the new design. ‘Can people find what they want, when they want it?’ The answer is that no matter how nostalgic one gets, the former site wasn’t perfect and had some major flaws. Content was lost or buried very quickly, users clicked on one page and left, with navigation almost an after-thought.
I won’t say that what we have now is perfect, there are some tweaks that need to be made in the coming days and the site will continue to evolve but overall, the site navigation has been a big win.
Our audience: Our audience is the best testing ground for site development, hence why we user-tested our site before launch. However, I still appreciate you coming up with new ways to improve the site. We’ve set up a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org
for you to send in your feedback. You’re email won’t just drop into the ether, as that address redirects to myself, a senior developer and Greg, my production editor in Australia. Alternatively, keep posting here in the forums and I’ll be along later to answer any questions.
Managing Editor Cyclingnews.com