Welcome to the New and Improved Streetsblog

For the first time in nearly nine years, we’re debuting a sitewide redesign of Streetsblog.

The last time we overhauled the site, few people were reading news on their phones, Twitter was just finding a mass audience, and no one thought of Facebook as the world’s most important media platform. Streetsblog was a single non-profit with reporters covering three cities and federal policy on Capitol Hill. Today we’re a collective of four organizations, with staff covering five cities, a state capitol, and the national streets and transportation beat — plus content-sharing partnerships in four other regions.

Our old site design had a good run, but it was clearly time to implement a modern interface better suited for the breadth of coverage that Streetsblog reporters and editors now produce. This year the team at Alley Interactive has worked with us to put together a much-improved technical platform and reader experience, so Streetsblog can continue to grow our audience and make an impact well into the future.

There were two main goals we wanted to accomplish with this redesign: creating a portal for quick access to important recent stories from every Streetsblog site, and upgrading the front end of the site to work well on the full range of devices that people use to consume media.

The new homepage, located at the address formerly occupied by Streetsblog NYC, will be updated daily with posts from around the Streetsblogosphere. Our reporters are producing compelling stories across four time zones, and readers can finally see that work all in one place. (With the new site structure, some readers will have to adjust their routines, especially people who follow Streetsblog NYC and Streetsblog.net — read up on those adjustments here.)

For the first time, Streetsblog now features a mobile-responsive design that’s easy to read no matter what type of screen you’re using. The new template should be more legible on desktop browsers too — but especially on mobile devices. Images and type will be larger across the board. These changes should make the reporting and commentary we produce more accessible, enjoyable, and pleasing to the eye.

While we’ve cleaned up the look and feel and introduced some content hierarchy on each Streetsblog site (you’ll notice major stories stick at the top longer than they used to), we’re also staying true to our bloggy roots. Below those top three stories, you’ll still find a reverse-chronological flow of content, and you’ll still be able to check Streetsblog at 9 a.m. every weekday and see a fresh stack of headlines.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working through some kinks and graphic tweaks in need of further attention. We have our own list of things to take care of, but if you spot something buggy, please tell us about it — except images that are acting funny (that’s probably a temporary effect of the migration to the new platform). You can send your troubleshooting notes and other suggestions to tips@streetsblog.org. (We’re still configuring Disqus on this particular domain — it works on the others — and will have that up and running tomorrow.)

We’re indebted to all Streetsblog readers and donors for supporting our work and making this critical upgrade possible. I especially want to thank The Summit Foundation, which has been a bedrock partner for many years and gave indispensable support to the site overhaul, and TransitCenter, which provided a final boost that enabled us to wrap up this big, complex undertaking.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the new Streetsblog.

31 thoughts on Welcome to the New and Improved Streetsblog

  1. RSS is broken. I keep getting recent posts I’ve already seen and marked read dumped into my feed as unread whenever you publish a new post. This post dumped oldies in my feed all the way back to “How to Spent a Fortune on Roads and Make Potholes Worse”. And if you try to follow the links of the old kruft you get “Oops! That page can’t be found.”

  2. Not having a visual break between articles and headlines is a bit strange to me. I know the headlines are bold but it still feels strange.

  3. Where are the dates? I don’t check daily, so when I see daily headlines am I seeing yesterday’s headlines or today’s. please put them on the him page.

  4. I agree with JJJJ, get rid of the stupid header please. The old site was better for reading. Also, I’m on Firefox for Android and the “Where We Are” drop down menu is always dropped on the main screen, whether I am in desktop mode or not, even if I use the “Phony” add-on that simulates an iPhone.

  5. Please restore the ability to see comment activity from the front page: Comment counts and a sidebar with a list of recent comments. Otherwise it is hard to know whether to reopen an article to see new comments

  6. I am not ready to jump and say that I dislike changes just because they are changes: I will likely adapt. But one of the main reasons I come to your site is to read the comments. What was wrong with Disqus? It seemed to work really well and it made it easy to pick who to read but scrolling down the avatars. I am much less likely to revisit, now.

  7. New site looks like somebody programmed a Geocities page in HTML 4. Can’t you guys put in some visual breaks between news stories, and you know, show the dates or something so readers can figure out new stories vs. pinned posts? I’m sure it’s an upgrade on the back end, but it looks like a downgrade as a reader.

  8. Why can’t we readers comment on the daily headlines stories? We have to go to the original news site and comment there, but we can’t discuss things with other Streetsblog readers, especially about local news. I can’t see visiting Streetsblog nearly as often if I can’t read others’ comments in one place. Streetsblog is a community, and the new format breaks that community link.

    1. Ben,
      I cannot find anyone’s comments. How does one access the comments? And will comments become available for local news stories? I read your earlier explanation and have no idea what it means. As I wrote earlier, for me, Streetsblog comments are a significant reason I read the blog. The new format feels all top down and instructional, not community based or democratic. Not liking this redesign.

      1. The comments are below the body of posts. We’re still working out some spacing issues that might cause you to have to scroll down a bit, but Disqus comments are live on every post on every domain except this one.

    2. @VOLTAIRESMISTRESS – you have to click on the title “Daily Headlines” so it reopens as its own page, and then the comments are at the bottom. I think it was like that with the old Streetsblog, but it was cleared that the headline was a clickable link as with other articles…

  9. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the feedback — we’ll be making several adjustments in the next few weeks that address many of the concerns raised in this thread.

    As I said in the post, Disqus has not been configured on the www subdomain, but it is active on all the others. This is a temporary side-effect of migrating content from www to the new nyc subdomain.

    Thanks for making do with the default WordPress commenting platform on this thread.

    Ben

    1. All sites are accessible via the “Where We Are” drop-down. We’re going to change the name of that menu to make it more intuitive, but it will remain a drop-down.

  10. First, add me to the list of people who’d like to see dates with the stories. I usually come here once a day (on a desktop browser) to see what’s new, and without dates, that’s really hard–I wasn’t even sure that there was still a reverse-chronological order, and I’m really happy that’s been kept (though I could do without the pinned stories at the top).

    Second, I miss the longer article extracts on the main site. Stories like the “This week in livable streets” feature never required a click-through, and it was always short enough that it never took up too much space. And with the longer features, I’ll sometimes click through after reading two or three paragraphs that appear on the front page, but I’m much less likely to click through given the new format of showing a one-sentence summary. That’s just not enough to tell me if it’s interesting.

  11. Dates are good and also last comments/comment highlights. Streetsblog commenters are some of the most intelligent commenters in the planning and transportation space and this needs to continue.

  12. The new site seems to act very poorly when the browser window isn’t enormously wide:

    (1) The entire design seems to assume a very wide browser window, and does not respond well to anything less. Many elements on the page seems to have fixed horizontal widths and horizontal positioning, and the disqus comments seem to have a fixed minimum width which is extremely wide (so much so that many comments are actually hard to read!)
    (2) There isn’t any horizontal scroll-bar, so if stuff gets chopped off by the layout, you’re out of luck!

    A bit of experimenting suggests that it requires a window width of 1300 pixels or more.

    I’m gonna guess that whoever did the design keeps their browser maximized at all times… ^^;

    [The old site had stuff that got chopped in a narrower window too, but in general it seemed to be less important stuff, with the main content being mostly on the left wide. IIRC, there was also at least a scroll bar…]

    1. Some of the width/alignment issues you’ve identified will be fixed soon, like the excessive maximum width of Disqus.

      Other issues have not been reported by other users. Can you email a screenshot of how a small browser window is chopping things off for you, along with the OS/browser/device combo you’re using, to tips@streetsblog.org? We’ll look into it.

  13. After a week of checking it out:
    (1) bring back dates!
    (2) increase functionality of search – such as allowing to sort articles by “relevance” (which I assume is the current sort) or date
    (3) allow to jump to a specific date – I know the article I’m looking for was the first week of Sept., say, so why can’t I jump right to the date range?
    (4) I miss “most recent comments”

    Besides a source of up-to-date news, Streetsblog has also become an encyclopedia of where we’ve been and how we got here. Maximize that historical value!

    — Ian

  14. Hi Ben,

    The “where we are” dropdown isn’t opening for me (Firefox, Windows 10 desktop). And the formatting of the “Also on Streetsblog” section on the bottom is showing up weirdly– the text is only about an inch wide, it’s to the right of the relevant image, and other images are covering the text (so, you see two images next to each other, with a skinny tail of text coming out from under the one on the right).

    Complaints aside, the new format is lovely!

  15. I welcome the general redesign and that finally the sites can be read properly on mobile devices.

    A couple issues from the user/reader perspective:

    – some blogs flash a security warning they are trying to load an unauthenticated script (some content on the right frame is then blocked from loading, don’t know what that is)

    – the criteria for tagging stories to the main site/feed or to the local sites needs some revamping. I realize the logic of tagging national or general interest stories to all local sites. I do not understand why clearly local Chicago or New York stories are tagged to appear on the LA feed, for instance.

    – the menu for selection of a local feed just freezes out sometimes on mobile version

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