It’s a time of exciting changes at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and today, we’re adding another one to the list: a brand-new CIR website.
We think you’ll agree that the new site is a vast improvement on our venerable 2007 design, with many visual and technical upgrades.
Our staff and the good people at Aten Design Group, who designed and developed the new site, have been hard at work in recent weeks to add finishing touches. There’s still some construction going on in some areas, so please excuse our mess.
Responsive design: The new site looks great in browsers and on tablets. Go ahead, flip it over! We don’t currently have a separate mobile site or a native iOS or Android app, so we wanted tablet users to have a great experience right in their browser.
Read or watch it later: We are the Center for Investigative Reporting, after all, and not all users have time to settle in with many of our long-form articles and videos during a quick lunchtime scan. It was important to us to make it as easy as possible to save something you’re interested in for when you have more time to really digest it.
All of the list pages on the site feature a “Read This Later” widget that lets you instantly send the article or video to either your Instapaper or Read It Later account – you don’t even have to open the article.
We do a lot of great long-form video at CIR as well, so we’ve also added a simple way for viewers to save their place or pass our video between their devices if they want to switch to a different screen. The system works by assigning each user a unique link, visible below the video, which stores the user’s latest time code in its querystring. You can email the link to yourself or a friend, or share a particular moment in the video on social media.
Inline browsing by topic, media, and length: Good search functionality is a key part of any site, but sometimes, I just don’t want to wait for a bunch of pages to load to find what I’m looking for. We built an Ajax-driven “Latest Reports” list on the home page so you can quickly browse stories by topic, media type or a combination without leaving the home page. You can even choose how much time you have to spend: 1-5 minutes, 6-10, 11-15, 16-30 or more than 30 minutes. (You can sort our videos this way now – we’ll be fully implementing this on articles soon.)
Much-improved categorization: On our old site, it was difficult to find something even if you knew what you were looking for, and good luck to you if you wanted to explore our archives. On the new site, it’s easy to find content by topic, media type or project. Our digital archive goes back to at least 2007, and we’ll continue to add classic CIR documentaries and other reports from our 35 years of archives.
Fully featured project pages: We’ve added many new features to our major investigations, including customizable Twitter searches, integrated Public Insight Network queries and RSS feeds for each project. We’re hoping to add Facebook Open Graph features to project pages soon to make it even easier to follow our investigations without having to check our site for updates.
Roll the credits
We still have work to do, but today marks the culmination of almost exactly a year of planning and development. We’re so proud of the results, and there are many people to thank for a highly successful and nearly pain-free process.
Our website redesign committee led the way in a remarkably constructive and collaborative process. We owe many thanks for hours of thought and deliberation to all the committee members: Sharon Tiller, Christa Scharfenberg, Carrie Ching, Chase Davis, Meghann Farnsworth, Ryan Gabrielson, David Ritsher and Suzanne Yada. The committee included representatives from administrators, our digital and video teams, and reporters.
Our crack digital staff put in many late nights, and I owe a lot more than pizza to the aforementioned Suzanne Yada, as well as La Toya Tooles, Ariane Wu and Mary Flynn. The hardworking Javier Panzar and Mihir Zaveri re-classified more than 1,700 articles by hand.
We also enjoyed amazing input and support from CIR’s executive director, Robert J. Rosenthal, and editorial director, Mark Katches.
And I can’t say enough about Aten Design Group, based in Denver, Colo. They have been a great partner throughout the process: patient with our evolving needs and understanding of our constantly changing schedule. They do quality work the first time, allowing us to focus on editorial and style choices instead of nitpicky HTML bugs. A special shoutout is due to Joel Steidl, our chief liaison and all-around cool customer.
We’ll be rolling out more improvements over the next few weeks, and we’d love to hear feedback from you: what works, what doesn’t and what you’d like to see added.
CIR continues to build on its legacy of award-winning, hard-hitting journalism. We’re happy to have a new website worthy of our mission.