Mother Jones Re-Launches Web Site
The old site--along with looking outdated--had constraints that did not match the extra reporting and blogging they had built up over the past two years as the in-house investigative team has expanded, including an eight-person Washington bureau, according to the editors.
"The new site is cleaner, less cluttered, and, we hope, far more inviting--a much better vehicle for the volume of fresh content we publish every day," said co-editor Monika Bauerlein in a statement. "It also has a more efficient back end, which means that people can spend more time on journalism and less on clunky code."
Building it open source (in Drupal) means that the basic code that runs the site is available to anyone, anywhere. The editors intend to put some of the custom work back into the public domain so other people can use it to build their own projects. And if any of Drupal coders want to build an app for MoJo, "that'd be beyond awesome," they say.
The new site is divided into three main news sections--Politics & Current Affairs, Environment & Health, and Media & Culture. On the right side of each page is a module called "Re:action" where users can see the the most-visited and most commented-on stories, jump into a conversation, sign up for newsletter updates, and support the 33-year-old magazine's mission of nonprofit investigative journalism.
"One of our favorite features of the new motherjones.com is our community system," said co-editor Clara Jeffery. "We think it's a 2009-worthy commenting system--the ability to thread responses, to vote comments up (but not down), to trick out your profile with an image or avatar."
Readers can tag a comment as a "solution" or a "result." So, for example, if they think state regulators should investigate something they have read about, they can let others know via the solution tag. Or if they've contacted their legislator and gotten a response, they can post that as a result. "This will help readers separate action items from opinionating, and in addition, we'll report on the suggestions you make and the result you get," Jeffery said.
Design Inspiration came from a lot of other news sites-The New Yorker's crisp and gorgeous design, Slate's useful architecture, NPR's and The New York Times' clean presentation of massive amounts of content, as well as many blogs and aggregators.
The site's new design is the creation of Steve Lyons, a San Francisco-based designer who teaches at the California College of the Arts. He came up with the pencil logo at the top left and picked the typefaces throughout. The back end, as well as the comments functionality, was built by EchoDitto, a Drupal-loving Washington-based development shop.