The Scoop

A blog about what's new and changing on sacbee.com

August 22, 2008
A peek at sacbee's new home page

The Bee is in the middle of redesigning its news Web site, and we'd like to invite you to help us improve it. Over the next two months, before we launch the new sacbee.com in the fall, this blog will seek to tell and show you some of the changes we are planning, and ask users for suggestions and their reaction to the changes. After we launch the new site we'll continue to seek user feedback and suggestions.

Sacbee.com was last redesigned in the spring of 2006, and it's become more than clear from user feedback and the complaints we hear in our own newsroom that our site needs improvement. Among the top complaints we want to address is that users can't find content they know we have. A related complaint from users of the site: why don't we report on certain topics. Often, we do have the content users ask for, but with our current site it's not always easy to find.

With that in mind, one of the first things we wanted in a redesigned sacbee is a wider site (we'll be going from the current 700 pixels to 990) to display more content. We also wanted a home page that was more flexible in its design, and allowed news editors to better highlight the top news stories while also having space to promote content from our Features, Sports and Opinion sections, as well as the latest news from the wires.

We also wanted a home page that better reflected our efforts to be more aggressive about breaking news on sacbee, continually updating stories, producing more online-only content and seeking to interact with users a lot more. (We'll blog at a later date about user interaction on the new site, including some new social interactive tools we'll debut when the site launches.)

But rather than just tell you about some of our goals for a new sacbee, let me show you here what we have in mind. A few months ago we hired Navigation Arts to help us design a better site. We'll be making adjustments to the mockup you see below, but it is basically an early look at the new home page for sacbee.

 

home.jpg

Among the first things you'll notice are the blue tone and the new masthead with Scoopy. We think that's a big improvement in the look, but the top also makes its very clear you are at the news site for The Sacramento Bee, a trusted brand that has provided news to this region for more than 150 years. (The url will remain www.sacbee.com.)

Below the masthead is the navigation bar (forgive the typo on Capitol & California by Navigation Arts) that we think is cleaner-looking and will be easier to use than our current bar with the dropdown menu. The actual topics we'll have in our new navigation bar will differ from what you see in the mockup, but our goal will be to highlight those topics where we get lots of traffic and routinely have strong content.

The photo in the top left corner with the "Gas hits $4" headline (there are other stories below that) would be for the top news stories of the moment, as picked by news editors at The Bee. To the immediate right is a container for the latest stories editors have posted to the site. In this container we plan to give users some choices, including the ability to look at the stories that are drawing the most online traffic, the most comments or are being e-mailed the most.

Below the container with the latest stories will be an area to direct users to some of the best content that's not hard news. (Sorry, you can't see that in the mockup above.) To the right of this area will be a container for the latest posts by our bloggers and columnists. Like the container on the latest stories, users will be given choices on how they want to search for columns or blogs.

Below the news stories and directory of features content will be a container the width of the site that holds our multimedia work, comics and puzzles as well as photos and video submitted by users. Again, we're planning to give users choices on how they want to search for content in this multimedia bar.

Under the bar, we'll be putting in containers on the latest stories from the wires, with topics like World News, Business, Sports, Entertainment. Those containers will automatically update every few minutes with the latest stories from the Associated Press. 

To get a better idea of what our new full home page home page might look like, check out our sister paper's site, The Charlotte Observer. Navigation Arts also designed that site. Our site won't look quite be the same, but it will look like a cousin of the Charlotte site.

So that's a look at where we are headed with the new sacbee home page. Got ideas to help us make it even better? Tell us about why you come to sacbee and what you want to see and find on the home page. Point us to other news home pages you like, and tell us why you like them. Or give us a list of the five most important things you think should be on our new home page. You can share your thoughts in our comments field below or e-mail me at tnegrete@sacbee.com.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

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On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



About The Scoop

The Scoop is a blog where the managers of sacbee.com talk about new initiatives and our plans for sacbee.com. You can reach us by at the e-mail addresses below or you can comment on our postings.

Tom Negrete is managing editor of The Bee and oversees the daily work of journalists who produce news content for the newspaper and sacbee.com. Negrete, who has been at The Bee since 1994, has served as assistant managing editor for business and sports, sports editor and assistant city editor. E-mail him at tnegrete@sacbee.com or reach him at (916) 321-1171.

Seán McMahon is The Bee's Director of Digital Media, overseeing the interactive efforts of the company. His e-mail is smcmahon@sacbee.com.

Linda Gonzales is digital team leader for Sacbee.com and has been an editor at The Bee since 1995. You can email her at lgonzales@sacbee.com.

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