Karen Peterson

TNT will soon debut revamped Web experience

Early Thursday, just about the time the printed News Tribune is hitting your doorstep, we’ll have a newsroom crew hard at work launching a redesign of our website, thenewstribune.com.

Our online content focus isn’t changing. We’ll still be posting stories for and about people who live in the South Sound.

But the new site design will give readers a cleaner and less cluttered view of our offerings. Streamlined drop-down menus will take you to sub-sections for entertainment, obituaries and other specialty news. More stories will have accompanying photographs. And it will take us less time to post breaking news.

Ian Swenson, our digital team leader, has been working for months with specialists from McClatchy Interactive to create the new site. Decisions on story and ad placement, on sectioning and other matters were based on user testing.

Frequent users will notice some changes.

Our current site restricts advertising to the right-hand rail. The new design will have a classified ad module that runs on the left-hand side. And some news features, including the list of most popular stories and our photo and video galleries, will appear in the right column.

Rather than having a stack of top stories along with a second list of “News updates,” the new site will have a single box at the top with all of the most recent headlines. Subsequent boxes down the page will do the same for local news, sports, business, opinion, and nation and world coverage.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll train every member of the newsroom staff how to post stories and pictures on the new site. Currently, a web producer and a few editors do most of the posting. Starting Thursday, reporters and photographers will post more regularly, sometimes directly from the field. We hope that reduces the bottlenecks.

Additionally, our current website can take several minutes to process a story. When news is breaking quickly, that’s a problem. The new site will post stories almost instantaneously.

The new design allows for more photos. However, our five staff photographers can’t possibly shoot pictures for every story, so we’re asking reporters to help.

Since January, we’ve equipped each reporter with a smartphone or iPod. We’ve trained them to take simple pictures and videos to accompany their stories. The professional shooters still will provide the strong photojournalism our readers have come to expect for the paper and the Web. But others are good enough at taking digital pictures that they can shoot a close-up of a person’s face or a video of a spokesperson talking.

Our blogs are changing a bit, too. While most news organizations use their blogs as a place for opinions or a back-and-forth conversation with a journalist, we also have used blogs as a place to post breaking news updates. The new website lets us break news more directly, so readers will need only to check the home page for the latest news. Our more analytical blogs, including our top sports blogs and the TNT Diner restaurant blog, will remain.

A bar across the bottom of the new website will make it easier to contact us, sign up for an email newsletter, download our apps and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll still be able to comment on stories and share them with friends.

Any of our pages you have bookmarked should remain. If you have a problem finding something, however, we have improved the site search. Simply type what you’re looking for in the search box in the top right corner of every page.

Any design change takes some getting used to. Try ours for a few days and tell us what you think at www.thenewstribune.com/customer-service. The site will continue to evolve, and your feedback will help us.