The Electronic Intifada has been busy behind the scenes for the last month, working on a third major redesign of our site. EI co-founder Nigel Parry and former MSNBC.com multimedia specialist and EI team member Ken Harper are currently working together with the rest of the EI team to implement EI 3.0 for a September/October 2003 relaunch [progress update]
For visitors who have grown used to our site, do not fear — the coming EI 3.0 will not see the removal of any features you currently enjoy, nor will it radically change our basic look. The EI 3.0 redesign aims to:
1. Enhance the visual appeal of the site by creating unique and recognisable title images for each content section.
2. Simplify visitor navigation and searchability of the site.
3. Add features that will ease the process of finding information on particular subjects on EI.
Every website is organic. Over time, as websites add more and more content, as visitors use the site and offer feedback, and as the various information sections of their site undergo ‘real world testing’, issues are brought to the fore that highlight ways to better organise the way we deliver information.
EI now contains around 2,000 news reports, feature articles, and commentaries which it currently serves to between 152,000 and 600,000 unique visitors each month, dependent on the situation. As EI is based on a chronological model, with the most recent articles found at the top of content sections, older material eventually flows out of sight. This is fine for regular visitors, but it doesn’t meet the needs of those who come to the site to find information on a specific topic.
To address this issue, EI 3.0 will include a new BY TOPIC section. BY TOPIC will complete the process begun with our original “Reference Library”, ultimately offering an alphabetically-organised, browsable interface to all the content on EI.
Instead of having to use our search engine to find material on a topic, visitors will now be able to enter the BY TOPIC section and browse a single page that lists all our news reports, human rights analyses, opinion/editorial pieces, and multimedia relating to that topic, as well as external links to useful, related resources on other websites.
Visitors will be able to quickly get an overview of important issues, and track developments in these topics over time. For us, this will also greatly simplify the process of linking from articles to related information. As related links on topics are consolidated on single pages in the BY TOPIC section, links to these pages will not require retroactive updating in every article across EI that is related to the topic.
One of the big improvements to EI during the last year has been the addition of a right bar which includes links to the main content sections of the site. EI 3.0 will see this bar reach all pages of the site. Other improvements will include automating the featuring process on the home page of the site, putting you in touch with the latest news from key sections the moment it goes on the site, and will cross-feature articles from other sections to encourage visitors to explore the site more fully.
We are additionally experimenting with different forms of video delivery to make our multimedia content more accessible to those on dial-up connections.
More than anything, EI 3.0 will make more sense, will make our information more accessible and usable, and will enable us to use our limited resources to deliver information in a more efficient way.
Managing a large news site like EI, which heavily depends on networking to find writers, and which has a small editorial group to guide submissions through a strict process, is a time-consuming process.
Since February 2001, the four founders of EI and a small group of committed writers, photographers, friends, and donors have helped to build the site into what it is today. None of us work full time on EI, despite a considerable administrative, editorial, technical, and design burden to keep the site going. One friend of EI, on discovering that we had no full time staff, described this as our “magic”.
EI 3.0 will ease the publishing side of our work a little, but the truth is that we are operating far below the level of resources needed to build and maintain a project as substantial, as widely used, and as desperately needed as EI has become — when one considers the ever-worsening situation on the ground, best symbolised by Israel’s building of the massive Apartheid Wall project on Palestinian land in the West Bank.
While we are happy to have coaxed the site to its current high level of quality, and while we looking forward to the coming relaunch of our site, we also feel that we have reached a ceiling in some areas of our work which our current resources will not permit us to exceed.
When members of the EI team dream of the future, we imagine a website that has comprehensive coverage, with regular reports from all over occupied Palestine, from the Palestinian refugee camps around the Middle East, and about developments from the corridors of power in which the voice of normal Palestinians remains a dull echo.
We imagine articles rich with photographs, video clips, and multimedia maps, graphs, and charts that help you to understand what 1,000 words can’t quite say. And we have resolved to continue to offer this coverage to readers around the world for free.
To do this, we need whatever help you can afford. Support the work of the Electronic Intifada today.
31 October 2003
Work continues on EI 3.0. The release has been pushed back to November.
13 November 2003
Testing of a multimedia feature panel on the front page has been taking place this week. Development and testing of the coming EI 3.0 site is going on behind the scenes, with steady progress.
1 December 2003
Getting closer every day. The new BY TOPIC section has been the largest obstacle as it requires much new content to be added. A decision was made today to soft launch this section with less information than initially intended, then to progressively add new sections to BY TOPIC after the launch.