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Changes Coming to ARLnow.com

by Scott Brodbeck April 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm 3,814 85 Comments

Update at 10:25 p.m. on 4/24/11 — Most features of the new site are working, but it may take up to a week to get to the point where we can turn the forums on. Please excuse any snafus with the registration and login process, as well as any site slowness. Thank you for your patience.

Update at 4:15 a.m. on 4/23/11 — The forums are not operational yet. We expect them to be in place by Monday morning.

First, I want to thank all our loyal readers and commenters, who have made this site into a real community in just over 14 months. Our 3,100 Twitter followers, 2,400 email subscribers, 1,300 Facebook fans, and 200 Flickr poolers — as well as the 42,500 article comments we’ve received since launch — are all testaments to the passion many have for Arlington and its unique neighborhoods.

Several months ago, we decided to invest in a site redesign that will help enhance the community functions of the site, while at the same time making the site more visually-appealing. I’m pleased to report that, if all goes well, the new design will be in place by Monday. Here are some of the enhancements you can expect:

  • Cleaner page layout
  • Message board (forums) for community discussion of issues not covered in articles
  • User registration, custom profiles, custom avatars and (maybe) private messaging
  • A login will be required for the forums, but anonymous comments will still be permitted
  • Prominent positioning for latest articles, comments and forum posts
  • Current weather conditions visible on all pages

Early Saturday morning, the site will go offline so that that we can begin transitioning to the new site. Please excuse any technical problems that may ensue.

Although we’re not indulging in the Silicon Valley cliche of visually labeling the new site a “beta,” it will truly be a beta version for a few months. We expect fixes and changes to be a continuous process for a couple of months after launch. Feel free to use the comments section of this article to discuss the new design, report bugs and suggest changes.

Thank you again for your loyalty. Have a happy and relaxing Easter weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

  • Rick

    I kinda like it the way it is but I really like the forum idea. Like fairfax underground with news.

  • ClizzleDizzle

    I’m afraid of change. Can we start a facebook page asking for the layout to be reverted back to what it was?

    • Lou

      You’ll get over it.

      • ClizzleDizzle

        Will you sing Fleetwood Mac with me?

        Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
        Because I’ve built my life around you
        But time makes you bolder, even children get older
        And I’m getting older, too

        • R.Griffon

          Or how about…

          I still don’t know what I was waiting for
          And my time was running wild
          A million dead-end streets
          Every time I thought I’d got it made
          It seemed the taste was not so sweet

          Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANGES…

          ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Truthi

            or the Stoned. You don’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you get what you need

  • Chazz

    Will the redesign come with gourmet burgers and cupcakes?

    • Aaron

      C’mon Chazz. It clearly comes with frozen yogurt. Good as summer starts up.

  • steve

    Look forward to this. Conrats on the success.

  • Will this change violate my privacy settings? ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Thomas

    Nooo!! How will I find out about the new burger shops set to open up this weekend?

  • charlie

    did Arlington County approve this? will you celebrate with cupcakes? pizza party? will my posts be limited to just the times that bar people are emptying out? can i still make up names for County Board members? Can I move if I don’t like it?

  • GMo

    A forum, profiles etc. sound great! I kinda like the simple design you use now but I understand your desire to change.

    For the love of god though please use Gawker as an example of what NOT to do by way of commenting redesign etc. While their site design is working out better than when first released all of the creative & thoughtful commenters have dissapeared (due to the terrible commenting redesign) which was about half of the draw for that site.

    Aside from the excellent reporting and broad coverage of our local neighborhoods that cannot be found anywhere else, in my opinion, the comments here are a major draw for me. I enjoy the insight I get into my fellow Arlington neighbors thoughts.

  • CW

    Like Barack Obama and homeless people, ARLnow wants change!

    • Peter Griffin

      You can’t spell progress without ogre…

  • JamesE

    my avatar will be a 3000×2000 .bmp of my car

    • CW

      lol +1

  • Bluemontsince1961

    ARLnow,

    You have a very informative web site for local news and issues. Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to your redesigned web page.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      I concur. Arlnow, for a guy living on Columbia Pike, you ain’t half bad.

      • CrystalMikey

        I concur as well, I’ve learned so much about our county from your website alone. Can’t wait to see the changes! Mikey from Crystal (aka Gotham) City

      • SouthArlingtonSmellsLikePoop

        +1

      • ChrisG

        You left the Lenox Club?

        • Yes, ARLnow.com HQ is now on the Pike.

          • NomNom

            +1

  • SpecialGuest

    I suggest including potential impact on smokers for each article.

  • Clarendude

    Current weather conditions ? Don’t people have windows ? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, sounds like some good stuff.

    • Spackle

      Sitting in a cube staring at padded walls…sadly no windows.

  • John Fontain

    Looking forward to seeing the new design. Thanks for the website and the info you provide!

  • R.Griffon

    Awesome. Really looking forward to it (esp. the forum changes).

    You have been an absolutely invaluable resource for getting this new resident (< 1 yr.) "plugged in" to his new (but MUCH beloved) community.

    THANK YOU. And keep up the great work.

  • The forums will be a great addition!

    • Lou

      I wonder if they will be for registered users only.

      • Lou

        oops, nevermind. Had to read across a couple different bullets to see that one.

  • ARLnow lives in South Arlington? I’m out.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      I think he’s still in school, that explains it.

      • I’m in a part-time graduate program, yes.

        • ClizzleDizzle

          Awesome! Have you ever used Arlnow as a business case? Maybe you can even franchise it one day.

        • ClizzleDizzle

          Is this you btw, the first picture showing up on google? ๐Ÿ™‚ http://www.nrpsforesters.com/bio-s-brodbeck.htm

          • Thes

            Um… No. Google image search “Scott Brodbeck Arlington”.

          • Rebecca

            Scott is much more attractive than I thought.

  • Becky

    Whew!! I was worried the “big change” was going to be something horrible, like you’d discovered your life-long dream to be a silent monk and were leaving publishing forever or something…

    Anyway, keep up the GREAT work. Seriously. I really love this site and try to get all of my Arlington friends to read it. Thank you for your great website and your great coverage!

    • Thanks for the kind words, everybody.

    • CW

      Oh, you must not have read the article thoroughly enough. You didn’t catch the part about ARLnow merging with Patch?

  • Aaron

    Please don’t change too much!! Sometimes less is more and this is likely one of them!!

    I will look forward though to unique usernames and fewer sockpuppets.

    • R.Griffon

      +1

      Ref.: the success of Google search and Craigslist vs. the recent fall of Gawker media.

    • Hokie

      +1. Just like when wudnerground.com updated their site. The new one was (is) hideous. They were so overwhelmed with comments about the hate for the new site, the old one was re-made available.

  • LP

    Thanks for everything to this date, ARLNow!

    Looking forward to the new design and features.

  • BackyardiganFC

    Has the site revision passed an environmental impact study?

    • NotChrisZimmerman

      No need — the site got a categorical exception on grounds of urgent need to address traffic congestion, even without outsourcing to global conglomerates. The state AG supports this so Arlington Co. is about to file suit.

  • Banksy

    I hope the redesign doesn’t include a commenting system in which comments appear in newest-to-oldest order. I prefer to read comments in the order that they were posted. Nesting or threading is okay. Or readers should be given the option of which order they want comments to be listed.

    • Aaron

      Great point! The lack of nesting is what thoroughly annoys me about the mobile site right now. You can’t easily tell at all who is replying to what (and I think that may contribute to some of the testiness at times).

  • SinSA

    I read this site religiously and it’s helped me acclimate to South Arlington ‘hood. ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to the changes.

  • Hunkles
    • Hunkles

      Jealous

      • Hunkles

        The other Scott

        • Skeptical

          He really needs to get a new mug shot.

    • Dan

      Where in Pittsburgh ??

  • othersideoftheriver

    Be prepared for the County Board to sue you for not doing a proper study first.

    (Good luck this weekend!)

  • Elizabeth

    As someone who has done many a site redesign, I do wish you the best of luck with the switchover. And remember, give a new name to your CSS file. I made that mistake only once ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • NomNom

    Great work ARLnow! Big fan of the site and the Afternoon Update. It is good to have you in town!

  • Mkt Common

    I’m using the mobile site so I can’t reply to comments … So I just wanted to +1 the comments on please pretty please don’t model the Gawker change & that horrible thing of “top comments” being the default. I don’t read the comments for snark, I read them for the conversation. Which also means +1 for the comment about preferring comments appearing oldest to newest, again so they read like a conversation that you can jump into.

    Otherwise I’m down with features like a forum that helps build a community & probably give Arlnow story tips/ideas to follow up on too.

  • Lou

    Please none of those pop-up menus that expand as soon as you mouse over the buttons. I can’t adequately express my hatred for pages with those.

  • Hunkles

    You folks that are requesting features DO realize that the site redesign is a done deal already????

    • Lou

      I figured he was just going to buy a copy of MS Frontpage and knock it out over the weekend.

    • Maria

      He asked for suggestions. Simmer down.

  • Tre

    Maybe ARLnow should break the trends of website progress and go with a throw back design with animated GIFS, repeating star/space wallpapers, and a guest book.

    • OX4

      Agreed. Something more like:

  • ok I’m nervous too, but I also understand your interesting in changing this up a bit. Just keep it nice and simple – when websites get too busy they start going down hill.

    Thanks for all you’ve done- I agree with comments made above – I’ve lived here about 25 yrs and have learned quite a bit of information from your website. Congratulations and good work.

  • Skeptical

    Changes happen and all that, but OWWWW! to the new look. The stark black on white is hard on my eyes, which were never good and are now old — I am actually squinting. Miss that soft gray. I can’t be the only one. Any chance of restoring something that doesn’t come across as screen glare?

    • Maria

      Can you lessen the brightness of your monitor? I find that helps.

  • TGEoA

    Meh.

  • MM

    Love the new site! Looks very fresh, clean.

  • CrystalMikey

    Looks nice!

    • Thanks! There are still some kinks to work out this week. As they say, please excuse our dust.

      • I like these changes – nothing drastic and still a good strong local news site. From the look of things (and the times when you posted) you have not had much of a restful Easter. Better get some pronto – tomorrow is already Monday (yuck).

  • Bluemontsince1961

    The new ARLnow layout is great! Good job!

  • CW

    Idk what the appropriate venue for comments on the layout is, but I’ll just say this here:

    1) Overall very nice, retains the feel of the old layout without being overly busy and clogged with links like many modern sites of this type.

    2) I do, however, wish to wholeheartedly second the opinions about the contrast. Just too much. The old site was easy to ready for long periods. My eyes are getting burned out in 5 minutes with this new one. Way too much white and the font just gets lost in the vast ocean of blankness.

    3) Weird things going on at the top of the main page: the top headline and the “latest top stories” thumbnails seem to be occupying the same space. Running IE 7 though I just realized (wtf?!)…thought I’d upgraded…could possibly be my fault, will upgrade and see…or just give the now-standard counterculture-turned-mainstream answer that everyone should be running firefox or chrome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hoping to see more good things in the near future!

  • Lumiere

    I’d like to request the next and previous post links to return. If I want to read story to story to catch up on what has been posted today I have to click into a story then either back or click the heading to go to the top then into the next story. It was really nice to be able to click the headline to move to the next story.

  • Tre

    Congrats on the new design, looks fresh & crisp without straying too far from the original feel.

  • Chris

    Is the twitter feed synchronized with the blog? I noticed today I am not getting any tweets about the new stories. Or did I just miss them some how?

    • The Twitter feed is not automated. It hasn’t been updated today because I’ve been at the White House covering the Easter Egg Roll.

      • Chris

        Oh, sorry, I thought it was an automated type thing. Thanks.

  • FlyersFan

    Love the new look!

  • PhilL

    Now that we have registered users, I can only hope the option to hide posts by selected users is not far behind.

  • 4Arl

    +1 Ability to reply to a comment from the mobile site would be a big help.

    • Some pretty cool changes are coming to the mobile site once we get everything with the main site squared away.

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