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Op Eds

A Newly Responsive Crimson

By Nikhil L. Benesch, Joseph R. Botros, and Preston G. So

The online edition of The Crimson has just undergone a significant relaunch, a culmination of months of collaboration from the redesign team. This redesign, the first in four years, came to fruition through a series of design and concept iterations plus thousands of lines of code.

The redesign began in early 2012 with the creation of a new concept, style guide, and design philosophy. We sought a seamlessly responsive design and a more maintainable, modern, and media-oriented site. The design, concept, and responsive implementation were the work of Preston G. So ’14, outgoing Director of Web Strategy.

Last fall we redoubled our efforts to ready the site for the redesign, translating the new look into code in preparation for its J-term transfer into our web application framework, completed on Jan. 27 by Nikhil L. Benesch ’16, incoming Tech Associate, and Joseph R. Botros ’15, incoming Technology Manager.

The online edition in its current state concludes our first phase for website development. Over the next several months the second phase, which seeks to implement a variety of further changes, will be executed to improve the user experience and administrative sustainability.

With our site now “responsive,” the same code will present the same overarching experience, no matter what device used to browse our new website. There is no need for pinch-and-zoom, nor any appearance of illegibly minuscule text.

Only a few major news organizations have responsive websites, such as The Boston Globe and Time Magazine. We are honored to have created one of the first responsive college newspaper sites in the Ivy League and among the first worldwide. Most importantly, we are excited by the enhancements in the design and user experience of the site.

Not only did we update the templates that control how our site looks in your Internet browser; we tweaked the internals as well to eliminate the old fixes intended to get content live as quickly as possible.

The online edition is powered by Django, an open-source framework for building web applications. In a newsroom, we must be able to build, test, and deploy new functionality in hours, not days. Django allows rapid construction of these new features, while keeping the code clear and maintainable. We are adapting to make full use of Django’s flexibility, and in the next few months, we will be able to more easily incorporate supplementary content, like Flash graphics and multimedia slideshows.

Although this redesign was the work of a core trio of individuals, we offer our thanks to all who contributed. Our appreciation to Kevin Grinberg at Active Frequency for damage control and some technical advice. We are also grateful to the many Crimson editors who composed the concept team and the implementation team, in addition to all beta testers, section executives, and others both in and out of the organization who furnished invaluable feedback and encouragement to help us reach the finish line.

Now, we invite you to use our website anywhere, on any device. We hope our endeavor has made The Crimson a richer and more robust news source, now not solely in newsprint but also on any device.

Nikhil L. Benesch ’16, a Crimson Technology Associate, lives in Matthews Hall. Joseph R. Botros ’15, Crimson Technology Manager, is a molecular and cellular biology concentrator in House. Preston G. So ’14, Crimson Director of Web Strategy, is a linguistics concentrator in Pforzheimer House. All three helped produce The Crimson’s new website enhancements.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Feb. 4, 2013

An ealier version of this article incorrectly stated that the newly redesigned is the first responsive college newspaper site in the Ivy League. In fact, The Brown Daily Herald launched its newly redesigned website on Jan. 23, four days before the The Crimson’s website relaunch on Jan. 27.

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