Update on Site Design Changes

MAY 12 UPDATE: We're still probably a few weeks away from rolling out the new look for the front page, but wanted to provide a brief update on where things stand.

We're currently reviewing and testing the design internally, with the aim of presenting it to the IC Reader Feedback Team by the end of this week (click here to volunteer for the Feedback Team). Meanwhile, Scout is in the process of rapidly rolling out the new design on its other sites across the network.

As we said in the original note below, we're not going to go live with the new design until we have fully tested it in a beta setting and received extensive reader feedback.



We don't have an exact date yet, but in the coming weeks the front page and story pages of Inside Carolina will get a refreshed look.

Since the new ownership and management team took over Scout at the beginning of the year, they've mapped out a plan to bring the network up to speed from a design and technology standpoint throughout 2014. Rather than do it all at once, it's going to be a gradual process.

The first step is what they're calling a "Refresh," which is essentially a cosmetic redesign, as a new user interface ("stylesheet") will be implemented with the same software and publishing system. The goal is a cleaner and simpler layout that better fits all viewing platforms, especially since we so desperately need to be fully compatible for mobile devices.

Likely before the end of the month, Scout will begin rolling out this new user interface for the front page and story pages on its other sports team sites -- but not yet at Inside Carolina. (The forums will get "refreshed" in the next phase at a date not yet determined.)

As the other sports sites at Scout get this new front page look, we'll be watching and testing it on our end behind the scenes, working out kinks and making sure it'll perform properly. If any of our readers are willing, we're eager to have volunteers test out the look and functionality of the beta site when it's ready in the coming weeks and report back to us thoughts and suggestions (see below for sign up link).

Our takeaways from the 2012 redesign mess were many, but the most important were 1) that it should be gradual, not a sudden all-in-one flip of the switch of every aspect of the site 2) that we can't trust that it'll work correctly live if we aren't able to test it ourselves 3) that we need our users to test it out and provide their input before going live.

Only when we have fully tested it in a live setting and taken into consideration the reader feedback will we move forward with implementing the new layout at Inside Carolina. And we'll make sure to keep you updated about the timeline as the date for the changes gets closer.

We fully recognize that many don't like change. We've all become very familiar with this current layout that has been in place since 2007 (and a publishing platform that's been the same since 2001). But it's necessary. In fact, we're well past the point of where change is needed. For example, not having a mobile version of the site in 2014 is inexcusable.

This redesign discussion in no way diminishes the significance of our (and your) concerns about Scout. Specifically, regarding the forums, we're not satisfied with the last four weeks of relative stability. Scout has to get the hardware/software to the point where stability is guaranteed for the long haul. And in terms of football recruiting rankings, we have shared in detail the concerns expressed by our readers to the Scout higher ups and are watching closely to see if the irregularities play out in similar fashion in the 2015 class.

That fits with our big picture approach to Scout and the future of Inside Carolina. We'll spend the coming months observing Scout's rollout of the site - both the "Refresh" this spring and the bigger technological and company-wide overhauls in the summer and fall - to determine if it meets the needs of Inside Carolina and its readers. And we'll ask you to do the same and provide us your feedback along the way.

To learn more about joining the Inside Carolina Reader Feedback Team to provide input on the refreshed site design, CLICK HERE.

- The IC Staff

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