Monday, September 25, 2006

CMR 2.0

The California Majority Report went all Web 2.0 today with the release of the redesigned site. If you click on that link and get a system maintenance message, you aren't alone. I got the stock screen for most of the day, though the new site did pop up briefly enough for me to form some snap judgments before cutting back to the maintenance notice.

The new site has a lot more hallmarks of blogdom: blogroll (still not linked off the main page - that is to say, no links on the main page, "rolled" or otherwise, but this is a start), archives, etc. The general look, however, is a bit Flash Report fussy, though that may be an unfair evaluation after just a few seconds of viewing.

There's also an "Elections" tab on the top that takes you to a page of links to all races with blurbs about each one. I only got a quick look at one, but my gut reaction was "uh, ATC, anyone?" Perhaps it's a partnership, though I didn't see any indication of such. Why reinvent the wheel? Scott Lay and the AroundTheCapitol.com gang have a great trove of information on their site. The CMR page looks like a bit of a hybrid between ATC's elections page and what used to be called "The Bench" - though I'm not seeing that anymore, so maybe CMR is stepping into a new vacancy. Like I said, I'm basing my early opinion on about 3 minutes of viewing.

It's definitely a more visually sophisticated site now and I look forward to seeing how that might change posting habits and content, as well as reader interaction on the site.

To quote a CMR writer: good luck with the blog, boys.

Update: okay, so it's up now. For reals. I'm digging the visual reinforcement of writer portraits by each post - there's this reassuring row of Steve Maviglios testifying right down my screen. I dig the portrait art concept, but might I suggest something in the 50x50 pixel range or so?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm. What's an important feature missing from the CA Majority Report?

Hmmm. hmmm.

Oh yeah: an "add comment" button!

(And yes, I'm logged in. The comments shown are carried over from before the re-launch.)

Only a bunch of truly "encased in the Captiol" folks would not only make this error, but then fail to fix it over a day later.

Then again, maybe they didn't notice the absence of comments, because it's hidden by the absence of postings?

cd said...

I haven't tried to leave a comment yet (stemming largely from the on-again-off-again nature of the site period right now), so I hadn't noticed.

Where does the "encased in the Capitol" reference come from? Did I write that? Where's the citation. We try to avoid scare quotation marks here. But I digress.

I don't blame the Capitol types, I blame their tech guys who should be hung out to dry if the shortcomings reflect deficiencies in their abilities rather than in the direction of the publishers. At a certain point, any web designer worth his/her commission needs to take care of what needs to be taken care of - so something like a missing comments tag on a post page is the fault of the designer, not the publishers.

The clock starts new now that the redesign is up. Unfortunately, it's a much shorter clock. CMR has very, very little time left to get it together. I still think they can do it.

And perhaps my short clock is unfair. A better restart date - once they sailed so far past their Labor Day delivery date - would have been November 8. That would've given contributors at least a few days of freedom to be candid before gearing up for 2008.

Donald Lathbury said...

Regarding comments: They've functioned properly since launch, so far as I know. You have to click on the story to add a comment though (what good would a comment be if you've only read 1/6 of a story?)

Regarding Elections Page: That's actually existed since Day 1. There are some formatting issues with it that the editors will be working on over the next two days, but it's mostly operational. We've built into the Elections page features that will allow future expansions of it, but that requires some more leg work now.

We of course welcome any additional suggestions for improvement. We've conceived of relaunch to be done in 2 steps. Step 1 is what you now see, primarily to get the look revamped and the key features up (Archives, Blogroll, Political Calendar, Multimedia Functionality, the ability to search for stories by Author). Step 2 are the more elaborate long-term features, and while we have some ideas in the works, there's always room for more.

Some things on the immediate horizon:
-The Political Calendar will be fully operational by the end of the week.
-There will be an Ask the Experts feature, where we solicit questions from our readership. This will be a fairly open-ended format, with any contributor/publisher being fair game. I would expect this to be up by no later than this weekend.

cd said...

Donald - thanks for stopping in. I think the redesign is good, especially now that I can get it to load. However, I have to agree, I'm not seeing a live "post a comment" link. I see a "no comments posted" line, but no way to change that. I even logged in . . .

And I never said there *wasn't* an Elections page. I just think if there's a lot of legwork, perhaps partnering with ATC would help ease the burden on both sites since they've been my go-to on races since their launch.

The archives and sorting by subject and author are great though.

Donald Lathbury said...

It was on a rolling load all day yesterday. It involved techincal things that go over my head, but apparently some server were able to see the site earlier than others, and that was a process that was out of control. Some people were able to see the site as early as 7AM; I for one wasn't able to see it until this morning.

Once you are registered for the site, when you click on a story, there is an option at the bottom that says "Post a new comment".

As for our election content and ATC's, ATC is a great resource for sure, but they provide next to no information on the candidates in less competitive races, nor do they provide recent election results. We certainly support ATC, and some of the information is comparable, but we do offer things that they don't offer (and vice versa).

Regardless, it probably wouldn't be appropriate for there to be a joint effort, considering we approach the races with a party preference in mind, and they don't.

cd said...

Are most races "less competitive" these days . . . wait, that just gets into redistricting reform . . .

I think I get where the comments link *should* be, but man, I swear, I am just not seeing it - not even on your post at the top of the page right now. And I am registered, logged in, and clicking through to the full article.

I could just be getting it wrong - I'm not that tech-savvy either, but I still can't find it.

Donald Lathbury said...

I just created a test account to see what you mean (since my account obviously has different access), and it turns out you are right. Comments were not enabled for all registered users. I've informed the webmaster, and I suspect that'll be fixed within the hour. Thanks for the tip.

cd said...

No problem. Though, I wonder if this is one of those careful what you wish for scenarios . . . . once everyone *can* comment . . . .

;)