The first thing to know when making massive changes in a web site is that stuff happens.
Earlier I posted that Sept. 27 would be the drop-dead date for our site, www.thetimesnews.com to switch over to a hosting mechanism operated by our new owners, Florida-based Halifax Media. Well, the drop-dead date isn’t so drop dead after all.
It’s actually earlier.
Yes, users of www.thetimesnews.com, should notice some changes in our website starting on Wednesday. When, though, is anybody’s guess. I asked that question today and was told “anywhere from six hours to two days.
So, starting at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday the transformation to a new home for our website begins. But our online audience might not notice any differences for several hours or more. It takes some time to make the switch, according to the technicians overseeing the procedure. I’ll have to take their word for it. When I pursued further explanation I felt my eyes start to glaze over during the response, which is what happens when I’m confronted with highly technical issues such as the balk rule in baseball and the notion of a simultaneous catch in the NFL.
Here are some things to know about the change in the short and long term.
– The website address will remain the same.
– The move is mandated by the change in ownership. In July, the sale of the Times-News and other North Carolina and Florida newspapers owned by Freedom Communications, Inc. to Halifax Media became final. Freedom agreed to house websites for its former properties until the end of September.
– Since the sale to Halifax was finalized in July, offsite technical support personnel have worked in overdrive to get nearly a dozen sites ready before this week’s deadline. Members of the Times-News interactive staff, headed by digital director Roger Creasy, have spent the past three weeks training on the new system and building content features within it. Still, not everything will be ready by the time the site become live.
– Our archives will be incomplete for a few days or even weeks. Interactive and newsroom staff members have posted stories to the new site for the past two weeks to ensure that stories and photos will be available when the new site goes live. But items posted on www.thetimesnews.com last month, last year and beyond won’t be there right away.
– The most visible changes will be in terms of how the site looks and in the navigation. Our most popular features will continue, including the Alamance County jail mugshots and blogs. We will continue to offer our replica edition. Obituaries will remain under Legacy.com, and Facebook commenting will remain.
“Our primary content, the content we are producing right now, should all be available and OK,” Creasy said. “We prioritized this in terms of local news, sports, columnists, etc.
“One exception will be blogs. We are still working on them now. They should be complete (Wednesday), probably not at the target launch time, though.”
Some of features that won’t be immediately visible are those hosted by third-party vendors, including classified advertising. Those will be updated after the site goes live. Other features that won’t be available today include:
– Photo contests
– Our Events Calendar
– Reader Photo Hosting
– Some Associated Press content
“The migration of our websites has been a huge undertaking. Many very dedicated folks have committed long hours toward getting this project done,” Creasy said. “Due to circumstances outside our control, the work was compressed into a much shorter amount of time than is normally expected for a project of this magnitude. We completed, or mostly completed, a six-month project in six weeks.
“Things are not perfect. I hope our site visitors will be patient with us. And, that they will let us know of our mistakes, things we missed, and, mostly, what they think.”
– Online readers can contact Creasy by email at email@example.com, online content editor Joe Jurney at firstname.lastname@example.org or Taylor at email@example.com.
Don’t hesitate to send us an email. Some things we might get around to right away, but we’ll be keeping a list.
And our fingers crossed.
Thanks in advance for your patience.