ELi Has a New Website!

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view of ELi's new website

Gary Caldwell for ELi

The ELi team is delighted to welcome you to our new website! Please take a moment to reset your bookmarks from eastlansinginfo.org to eastlansinginfo.news.

Why did we create a new website?

Our old website is running software called Drupal 7, which is approaching end-of-life (no further security updates) in 2021. The upgrade to Drupal 8 is so major that it is equivalent to changing to different software, requiring a complicated content migration and a redesign of how the site is put together. We decided therefore to pause and think about whether it made sense to continue with Drupal or switch to different software.

After deliberation – with special attention to questions of sustainability, the remote management style ELi employs, and our readers’ preferences – we decided our best move was to shift to WordPress as our CMS (content management system) and to base our new site on the design called “Largo,” developed by the tech team at the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), of which we are a proud member.

ELi’s tech team of Morgan Lees and Lisa Lees have spent months working to customize the software to do what our readers need, want, and expect from us. We are so grateful to them!

What do we love about the new website?

The new site better displays the variety of news we are bringing, and directs attention to the categories we know matter to our readers. The mobile display is phenomenally better on phones and tablets, and it does a great job of making more visible who is reporting an article – allowing us to showcase and celebrate our terrific reporters.

Individual articles are laid out in a way that significantly improves readability. Articles are easier to share, including now as PDFs. Photos have attached captions and credits. Ultimately, the page is easier to navigate, allowing readers to find news that they might otherwise miss.

Additionally, because it was specifically designed for nonprofit news sites like ours, the Largo theme of WordPress offers a number of features useful to us as a news organization, including an ability to create article series. Since ELi frequently follows a particular story for months or even years – as we’ve done with some development projects – having that series-producing feature is going to be really useful. (Check out ELi’s series on COVID-19, Little Local Joys edited by Ann Kammerer, and Ann Nichols’ beloved series Ann About Town.)

The new software also has better capability when it comes to things like sharing weekly round-up podcasts and audio interviews, something readers have been asking us to do for a long time.

Then there are built-in tools you can’t see as a reader but we can use as a publishing team. Having these tools, we believe, will make our work lives more efficient.

Why did we go to a whole new domain (from .org to .news)?

This is not a move commonly undertaken by established businesses like ELi, and we expect it will temporarily affect how search engines treat ELi’s main page. But as we assessed our special circumstances, the team decided it made the most sense to take this step, particularly since most of our readers don’t access our material via whole-internet searches.

Here’s the main reason we made this decision: At eastlansinginfo.org (our old site), we have an enormous amount of content built-up. Trying to create a new site with a new CMS at that domain would mean a huge “content migration” challenge.

The shift to a new domain name allows us to maintain and stabilize the archive of our .org site while continuing to provide ongoing and upgraded service at our new .news site. Morgan and Lisa have set up the search function at the new site to search both sites, which means you will be able to find older material you may be seeking.

We hope you find this revision as exciting as we do!

But please do be in touch if you find something challenging or buggy. We have been working on this for a while, but we know that, as always, our readers will teach us something we didn’t know when they provide feedback. Contact us here.

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