Redesigns are gimmicky, disorienting, and just plain irritating. They don’t change anything but looks, which is to say they change nothing. But sometimes they’re necessary. So with apologies, relief and satisfaction in equal measure, here we are, finally redesigned for the first time since launch and just ahead of our 10th birthday in a few months: we’ve shed a few pounds of bloated and outdated code and can finally fit in mobile phones, today’s Speedos of content delivery. Nothing else is changing.
When FlaglerLive was designed in 2009 the iPhone wasn’t yet three years old, Facebook was still as pre-pubescent then as it is now, but not nearly as dictatorial of users’ habits. Readers spent more of their time on desktops than playing with something in their hand: even as recently as the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term, mobile phones accounted for just 16 percent of web traffic, compared to over 63 percent today. That’s an astounding and continuing revolution in readers’ habits.
Mobile phones are fantastically convenient. But I personally think mobile sites, like most of the social media universe, can (and I stress can) be a plague on quality reading and critical engagement with words and ideas. Pope Sylvester II was considered a magician 1,000 years ago because he could read books, but mobiles make magicians of all of us for the immediacy and access they enable and the power they give us to engage in return. But narrower screens also reflect our narrower views and tunnel visions, our onanistic love of hearing our own ideas reinforced at the speed of likes. Engagement isn’t a selfie.
For good or bad narrower screens are where readers are, and it makes no sense to hold on to romantic notions of the ideal reader embalmed in papyrus. Better 1,000 hasty readers than a single ideal one anyway. And as tales from the confessional go, without a mobile site we might as well be exiled in Siberia. As far as Google was concerned we were.
There was also the matter of sheer age. A few weeks ago I essentially demolished the site for a half hour when I tried to deactivate an old, cluttering element deep in the guts of the thing, to enable an overdue upgrade to php 7.3 (don’t ask). I lost five years of my life trying to repair the damage in that half hour. It was like trying to make a 78 rpm spin in the Blue Ray era. We made it work again, but the close call reminded me of that time a Turkish Taliban sympathizer hacked us. It felt like a lucky reprieve.
The message was clear: we had to make the switch, and the cleanest way to do that was to rebuild the site from scratch. So our staff of 600 got to work and produced what you now see, with big improvements in security at the back end and, we hope (we were promised in the fine print), improvements in stability and speed at your end. The changes you see are mostly cosmetic, those you don’t are structural, like bringing a house up to code.
The pages are wider, easier on the eye. We’ve even enlarged our font size because our eyes like yours aren’t what they used to be 10 years ago, though the size is a bit too big for my taste right now. The overall structure of the site is still its familiar self. The top story will still dominate the page. The front page’s principal two news columns divided between local and not-so-local items. The Daily Briefing is played up a bit more prominently in the right column every morning, as it’s gained some popularity over the years. We’re adding a featured but downplayed space, down the page, for news releases and briefs that often haven’t made it into our stream because of a healthy revulsion every journalist should maintain for press releases in an age of PR on meth (we’ll get over it, with a disclaimer above each).
In the days ahead and on mobile devices you’ll start seeing advertising between paragraphs much more often: we have to pay the bills, most of you are still–shame!–getting this for free. (You can remedy that right away), and our advertisers deserve the better visibility. Otherwise the regular flow of articles won’t change, nor will their length, nor will their crying need for proofreading. For you commenters it should certainly be an easier, more welcoming experience, not that we need to make your job easier. But as with everything else, even your feedback on this redesign is welcome, as is that of the Brad Wests of the world.
It’s assumed that with changes like this there should be kinks aplenty. They’ll be worked out in coming days. But the reality of today’s web-based media is that the kink is inherent to the job: none of us from big media to small, from television to web to print to radio, have a clue where this is heading, only that something is always changing. For our part we’ll not only fix the kinks, but we’ll continue to make small changes here and there to keep up. Nothing is static anymore.
Paradoxically, at heart I was a technological illiterate before FlaglerLive and remain happily so 10 years later, so whatever design changes you see will always be incidental to the only mission we have whatever the means. “Like the fish who survive a toxic river and the boatmen who sail on it,” Neil Postman wrote in “Amusing Ourselves To Death,” his book on the effects of visual media on the printed word (written two decades before social media and the iPhone), “there still dwell among us those whose sense of things is largely influenced by older and clearer waters.” That’s our intended audience.
We are not a “brand.” We don’t do “content.” We could care less what social media apps are the cutting edge of “reach.” The focus is still first and last on quality, serious news reporting, with as little attention as possible to the technical gimmickry necessary to get it to you. To that end, this redesign will make that a bit easier for us as I hope it does for you.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Congratulations on 10 years of high-quality journalism. Flagler Live is a newspaper that makes all of us proud to live in Flagler County. When I show it to friends in other parts of the country, they’re astonished that we have access to this level of reportage at no cost, and without the loathsome pop-ups that attack and trap readers on so many other news sites. I will be sending a 10th anniversary gift of support and encourage others who appreciate Flagler Live to do the same.
Rachel R says
Your contributions have been a breath of fresh air in a stagnant media climate. Congratulations on 10 years of stellar discussions and thank you for creating a site where I am simultaneously amused,informed,shocked and satisfied.
Sorry, I don’t like the new print font size. Go back to what it was previously, PLEASE! Most decent browsers such as the one that I use, FireFox, has an option to increase the font size if needed depending on each users requirements and the age of their eyes.
Komodo Dragon says
Lmao, then that means you can adjust it smaller to suit yourself. 🤔
Greg Jolley says
Great work as always!
You do an amazing job keeping the community informed and involved.
Steve Stone says
I’d hope everyone would consider contributing to this great news source for Flagler county. I’ll be moving to Flagler next year and the information from this publication made my decision to choose to build here much easier. Thank you for updating to a more user friendly format.
It’s scary to recall a Flagler County before Flagler Live. We were lucky if we knew what our government was up to!
Thank you for the update and for keeping us informed. My monthly donation to you is the most valuable investment I make.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Oh dear… no ‘home’ button.. font very large.
More to navigate… Not so happy with changes but love FlaglerLive..
All that will be adjusted Jane in relatively short order.
Yay! Mobile friendly. Still have yet to see how it plays from my car stereo as I gulp down a coffee while tweeting forever Trumpers and dodging old people on Palm Coast Parkway. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Your site needs lots of security still, and I’m looking from the outside in. Start by getting rid of that gargantuan Login link. Your internal people know where to go, and even lock that folder access down to specific locations (IPs). Kudos on picking the world’s most proliferated and supported CMS. You’ll be fine for many years to come.
Rick G says
Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. Although I live in Ormond by the Sea, our family live in Palm Coast and we do business mostly in Flagler County so its good to get news from there. Thanks for the increase in font size as it feels better on my eyes. Good luck for another 10 years.
Gary R says
@ Richard – I use Firefox too. All I did is Zoom Out twice and the font size is the same as it was before. You can zoom in or out by holding the Ctrl key down while pressing + or – at the same time. Or, You can go to View > Zoom > Zoom Out to make the font smaller or View > Zoom > Zoom In to make the font larger.
Rich D says
I read everyday. Old format was better as you can see a lot at first glance and can then focus in on what’s of interest. Now you’ll have to scroll scroll scroll. Painful
Bottle Eyes says
Font size that even I can read . What size is that, 178 ?
Congrats on 10 years and on the redesign. Very nice work. Here’s to 10, 20, or 30 (or however long you want) more :). Keep up the good work, and thank you for the bigger font – my eyes aren’t what they once were either.
Horrible update I must say, this new layout is so much harder to see everything, as all you can see is story’s one at a time instead . PLEASE CHANGE IT BACK. It is so hard to read now . I have a Galaxy note 10 and it was so much easier and user mobile friendly the old way.
First of all, happy birthday! The list of positives your work and this website have brought to the community in those 10 years is endless. This resident and reader is forever grateful.
Second, great job on the design. I really like it. I would disagree that it’s more than cosmetic when it comes to these things. It’s about experience. Event print news has been about experience in so many ways. The layout of a newspaper or magazine, article length, navigation, etc. How we get our news, experience it, engage with it is,and share it with others is ever changing these days. Unlike print, in the digital space we can learn a great deal about the visitor’s experience through their eyes. What type of device they most use, what parts placed where do the engage with the most, how long they stay, how long they don’t stay, so forth and so on. Good design and visitor experience keep people coming back and helps keep those important stories out in front of people making the difference you make. Good job.
Congratulations and I like the new format!
Flagler County Citizen says
Wow, staff of 600!! Impressive! :) Congratulations and thank you for this community information!
I liked the old format very much.
I’ll get used to the new look–I’m sure.
John F. Pollinger says
A fan of your journalism and local reporting since I moved here, I’ve read, smiled, winced on occasion, but always found you engaging and enlightening. Thank you Pierre. And I thank the entire family for the hours they have allowed you to be away from family to bring not only news, but valuable insight and opinions galore. Congratulations for a decade of excellence.
Elaine Studnicki says
I like it!
Name (required) says
There’s a link to the desktop format? I use mobile, but prefer not scrolling.