I don’t know about you, but I like to make New Years’ Resolutions that are ridiculously easy to achieve.
In previous years, this included resolutions like “Eat more chocolate” or “Vacuum the living room.” By going this route, I can just get my resolution out of the way within hours, while enjoying a vague feeling that I somehow accomplished something.
So imagine my delight when we discovered that one of our longest-running goals for the Island Fee Press will actually come fruition on January 1, thanks to months of hard work by our Co-Founder Donna Barnett, and our Director of Technology & Digital Marketing, Meg Phillips.
Yes, starting on January 1, the Island Free Press will have a brand new look that will make our little paper easier to access on mobile devices, easier to scan to find articles on a particular topic, and just plain old easier across the board to read and enjoy.
Happy New Year’s to Us All! – 2019 Resolution Accomplished!
And while all of us at the Island Free Press have been quietly celebrating this milestone for weeks now, I think it might help to understand our excitement by explaining what a long road it has been to get to the new site.
You can probably already tell, but our current design hasn’t changed all that much since our Co-Founder and beloved Editor, Irene Nolan, first launched the Island Free Press in 2007.
At that time, our focus was on creating a paper that could post important news stories in a timely manner – instead of having to wait days or even weeks to cover issues that were essential for our readers. (This was one of our collective biggest pet peeves, in fact, when we all worked at the now defunct monthly newspaper, The Island Breeze, which Irene ran until establishing the Island Free Press more than a decade ago.) An online medium allowed us to do just that, and in the years to come, we’ve posted thousands of stories on everything from beach access, to historic hurricanes, to replacing the Bonner Bridge.
After a few years, Donna and Irene realized that it was time to upgrade to a new format to make our paper more accessible, as more and more folks started using cell phones, tablets, and mobile devices to obtain news on the go. The first time I remember Irene telling me about plans for the new site was around 2016, and her excitement for the project was contagious.
Right off the bat, however, there were some challenges that delayed our progress. How do you take thousands and thousands of stories and move them over to an entirely new platform? How do you ensure years of videos, links, and photos stay intact in a new design? And how do you switch to an entirely new format without annoying the heck out of people in the process?
Our wonderful editor and founder passed away on March 3, 2017, and our attention shifted from a new site design to keeping the Island Free Press going in the months to come. The new website was put on the backburner, as we focused on mourning our loss, while trying to ensure that the IFP continued exactly the way Irene would have wanted it to.
Flash forward two years from the project’s conception, when Donna and myself had the pleasure to team up with Meg Phillips – a website guru with massive experience who uses a ton of impressive technological words that I barely understand. But from the ensuing conversations, which at times felt like they were conducted in a foreign language thanks to acronyms like W3C, PHP, and WYSIWYGs, we inched closer to coming up with a game plan.
(I just want to point out that Meg was infinitely patient with us, as I cannot overestimate how unhelpful I was when figuring out the specs of the new site. For example, Meg would say something like “We can create PHP DOM Scraping packages married with a set of custom code to preserve archived content in an index-friendly format.” And I would reply with something like “Can we make the logo more blue? I like blue.”)
In any case, after months of work by Donna and Meg, (and months of unhelpful input by yours truly), we are now hours away from launching the new and improved Island Free Press – roughly two years after Irene first proposed a switch.
And in the weeks to come, we hope that you’ll provide us your feedback, suggestions, and input, so we can create a site that’s truly easy for you to use.
When you’re moving thousands of stories from an old site to a new one, issues will likely pop up along the way. As a result, we are adding an “Article Error” button to all the article pages in 2018 and the years before, so that if you come across an error related to the switch, you can just click a button and report it. Our team will take a look and correct the problems as requests are made, and will notify you when the article is properly preserved.
From all of us at the Island Free Press, we sincerely hope that you like the new site as much as we do, and that you’ll continue to turn to us for island news in the years to come.
It’s our New Year’s present to you, our dear readers, (as well as my excuse to get my 2019 resolution out of the way, thanks to a midnight January 1 launch), and is our way of saying “Thank You” for more than a decade of readership.
Here’s to 2019!