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A new look for Crosscut

We have made design and format changes to help readers to find Crosscut's top stories each week, and to give the site more visual impact. Let us know what you think and how it's working for you.
The Clicker, Crosscut's popular hand-picked news aggregrator, hasn't disappeared. But it has moved.

The Clicker, Crosscut's popular hand-picked news aggregrator, hasn't disappeared. But it has moved. Crosscut.com

The new Crosscut web update includes features like the carousel, Trending Stories, Top Stories, and Recent Stories.

The new Crosscut web update includes features like the carousel, Trending Stories, Top Stories, and Recent Stories. Crosscut.com

Crosscut's new carousel lets us quickly and easily show you our top features of the week.

Crosscut's new carousel lets us quickly and easily show you our top features of the week. Crosscut.com

By now you’ve probably noticed a few changes to Crosscut.com's design. This updated look and its new features are designed to make it easier for readers to find more of Crosscut’s best stories from throughout the week; to get a quicker overview of our news, analysis and commentary; and to present Crosscut’s articles clearly and with more visual punch. See below for more on the specifics of our website changes.

But that’s not all. The changes that you see on the website are actually just a small part of what we’ve been working on over the past few months. Thanks to the help and generosity of our partners and collaborators, Crosscut has also just launched a new content management system (the behind-the-scenes software coding that our editors use to publish articles).

This new system, named Armstrong, was developed by The Texas Tribune and the Bay Citizen – two of the country’s leading non-profit online news publications – and made possible by a large grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Armstrong is an open-source platform, which means that not only can Crosscut customize it to fit our needs, but that we’ll be able to take advantage of any added capabilities or innovations developed by others.

We got incredible help from a locally based company that did the customizing for us. Thanks to Alex Tokar, Tom Gruner, and Joe Murano at Bit Bamboo, a web development company using Django to, as they put it, solve intriguing problems for interesting people.

If all goes well, the transition to this new system should be invisible to you. To us though, it will mean that we are able to publish more multimedia articles and stay on the cutting edge of developments in web journalism technology.

We hope you like the changes we’ve made, but as with the introduction of any new web system, you may notice a few hiccups in the first few days of using the new system.

As you look around and spot parts that throw you, please let us know by emailing us at editor@crosscut.com.  That’s an address we check throughout the day, which means we’ll be able to respond as quickly as possible to any problems that come up. 

We look forward to hearing your feelings about Crosscut’s changes. And we will update you as we adjust and fine-tune the system.

The guide to Crosscut’s web changes:

  • The carousel. The carousel (or slider) of pictures, headlines, and author bylines at the top of the page will rotate four recent stories. Clicking on a photo or headline will take you to the full story. You can let the carousel rotate among the stories at its own speed OR hover your mouse over an image to stop the carousel. You can also move quickly between stories by clicking on one of the dots just under the carousel on the lower right side.
  • Top Stories. We will also feature three articles a day in our “Top stories” section, just below the carousel, which we’ve added to help you find three more of our most important stories from the past week.
  • The Clicker. Crosscut retains its constantly-changing collection of out-links to some of the most important news stories in the Northwest and beyond, but it has moved down the page a little to make room for the carousel.
  • The Crosscut Blog. We’ve eliminated the “Crosscut Blog,” which usually featured shorter stories, because it had fallen into less use over the past year and we found it increasingly hard to define which stories should be blogs and which should be, well, stories. Don’t worry though – you’ll still be able to find all of your favorite blog posts from years past, which are stored on our new site as stories. Daily blog favorites like the Midday Scan and Crosscut Touts will now be posted as stories.
  • Recent Stories. “Recent Stories” presents about a dozen of the most current Crosscut stories.
  • Trending Stories. Our most popular stories from the last week will now be featured in the top left corner of our homepage in a section called “Trending Stories.”
  • Top commented. The Crosscut stories with the most comments are now featured in the “Top Commented” section. Incidentally, the system that measures the popularity and comments on recent stories started over with the launch of the new content management system, so it will take a few days before the counts are fully up to speed.
  • Comments. Speaking of comments, readers will notice some changes in the system for posting theirs on our stories.  The new system allows readers to comment directly on other people’s comments. Since important points often develop into side conversations, we think readers will like being able to easily spot an ongoing discussion. It also includes a spam filter to help screen out the commercial postings that sometimes sneak into the comments. This is done through the ReCaptcha box where the user is asked to re-type two words or strings of characters and symbols.

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

Berit Anderson is associate editor of Crosscut.com. She can be reached at Berit.Anderson@Crosscut.com


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 8:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Does Crosscut really need to emulate Publicola's shooting gallery of moving headlines/images to attract more readers (or perhaps a different set of readers)? I thought its previous format, without the bells and whistles, worked just fine.

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 8:47 a.m. Inappropriate

Limiting the comments section to 1000 characters serves who? This form of self censorship is a dumbing down action that reduces your audience to right wing left wing sort fo cheer squads. I like to think that the kinds of questions raised in crosscut articles require deep thinking and not simple sound bites. Todays article on mexico is a good example where flamboyant and fiery remarks are made by the writer with the advantage of a limited rebuttal by the readership. You've missed the boat on this. If limited reply is so important have an editor trim the responses, thats what good letter to the editors sections did when this was a printed paper. You're taking the easy way out.

chapala21

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 9:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Chapala, We're working to remedy the comment character limit - an unforeseen glitch of switching to a new content moderation system that lets Crosscut editors spend more time working on bringing you thoughtful stories and less time moderating spam by hand. Under no circumstances are we trying to censor our readers. We'll let you know when we get it worked out.

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 9:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Fortunately, Adblock Plus lets me eliminate the odious carousel altogether. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the equally odious captcha.

ivan

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 10:34 a.m. Inappropriate

While the thought I may be in the minority occurs to me, I rather like the new look, and especially the new content system. And as for comments, well, if you can't say your piece in the same number of words as the article (if not less), ask David to let you submit an article. He'd probably say yes... ; )

orino

Posted Tue, May 1, 12:51 p.m. Inappropriate

1000 characters is less than 200 words, which is shorter than most of the stories. In any event, it appears that this glitch has now been corrected. I hope.

Steve E.

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 12:27 p.m. Inappropriate

One note--I think your web upgrade did something to how your site is "mined" by google. NONE of your stories seem to show up in my google alerts on specific topics, even though they clearly fit the criteria. And running a search of news items using the exact terms in one of your articles and it still doesn't show up...

For example, if I search Lake Whatcom landslide in Google News (or "everything") search, I get an article from 2009 but not the one from last week. If I search Lake Whatcom Crosscut in "everything" I get it, but NOT if I search News.

Same thing w/ the Kitsap story---even searching the title directly gets nothing. It's like google doesn't know you are news anymore.

Haven't tried it w/ other topics... just an FYI!

And I LIKE the new look! Much better usability.

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 2:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the tip. We're looking into that. And glad to hear you like the site!

Posted Mon, Apr 30, 2:43 p.m. Inappropriate

I never minded scrolling down through the list of articles. I am more inclined to do that than wait around to see the graphic shuffle at the top. Sorry about the spam.
I had no idea that was going on in the background.

kieth

Posted Tue, May 1, 2:53 p.m. Inappropriate

@kieth - Like you, I want to move faster through the image carousel at the top. Try clicking at your own speed on the 4 buttons at bottom left.

Posted Tue, May 1, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

...uh, I mean at bottom right. Just under the image carousel box.

Posted Thu, May 3, 9:22 a.m. Inappropriate

I am neutral about the re-design, and maybe positive about the ability to respond to one another in the comments. However, I like to re-read my previous comments and to see if others have responded, and yet I cannot find my comments anymore. I used to click on My Profile and there they would be with links. Now they've disappeared. Are you goind to change that, change it back? I emailed your webmaster the other day but s/he has not responded. And how will I know whether you've responded to this or not?

mspat

Posted Fri, May 4, 7:20 a.m. Inappropriate

They have to be careful or we will end up with a better version of the online Seattle P.I.

chapala21

Posted Fri, May 4, 7:28 a.m. Inappropriate

One thing that is an oversight is that there is no VISUAL ARTS section to the ARTS header. Come on....there's plenty to review, Sam Shows, SAAM shows, gallery openings, studio happenings, several arts schools....etc.
Plus there are the obvious visuals to go with any story. I know we are not the recognized alternative to the NY art scene we once were but still Seattle has a vibrant art scene, an impressive number of senior talents, a nationally recognized government arts program and most importantly your readership are art buyers. Get with it!

chapala21

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