OPINIONS

The new StanfordDaily.com: Embracing the digital-first age

As you might have noticed, things look a bit different over here in our little corner of the web.

Over spring break, The Stanford Daily proudly launched this new website, the product of three months of hard work by our entire editorial staff. As Editor in Chief George Chen put it in his Editor’s Welcome in February, “The Stanford Daily is a digital-first media company,” and we couldn’t be more excited to unveil a site that gives us so many opportunities to fulfill that vision.

But before I get to those behind-the-scenes improvements, here’s some of what’s already changed for you, our readers.

The first thing you’ll notice is our site’s new look, intended to blend the sleek appearance of a modern news site with the serif fonts and Old English logo you’re accustomed to in our print product.

Many redesigns end with a new look; that’s just where we got started.

In the past, the experience of using StanfordDaily.com changed drastically on a mobile device. You were forced to choose between our full site, whose text was too small to read without zooming in and manually dragging each line back and forth, and a mobile theme that was noticeably stripped down. That’s no longer the case.

Pull up this article on your phone or tablet. We dare you.

Here at The Daily, we’ve finally caught the wave of responsive design, which means that every element of our site will automatically resize and reshuffle depending on your screen size. That will provide you both the readability of a mobile theme and the functionality of a desktop site — no more compromises. (And, most importantly, it means you can now read The Stanford Daily in class.)

Previously, we’ve also lagged behind somewhat when it came to our use of multimedia. But what frustrated the editorial team the most in that regard was that we weren’t really held back by a lack of content. Our photographers produce far more high-quality shots than we’ve had the chance to feature, and thanks to the inspired work of Victor Xu and others this year, we’ve developed an ability to tell stories graphically as well.

To address those issues, we’ve transitioned to a new media gallery tool that finally does these people’s work justice. We hope that our revamped Multimedia section becomes as much a part of the fabric of StanfordDaily.com as the rest of our content, so expect photo galleries and graphics to start creeping into our articles much more often.

Through this redesign, we’ve also looked for ways to highlight what makes student journalism truly unique: the students. Our insightful columnists are featured on this site they like never have been before, whether it’s on our homepage, in our redesigned menu or in the sidebar of every Sports or Opinions article.

Similarly, we’ve rethought how we package our Weekend Edition, one of The Daily’s hallmarks this year, with a brand-new archive page that lets you revisit all of the topics we’ve explored so far.

Social media is another element that we’ve woven into this site, between the Twitter ticker on every page, the social corner on the homepage or the customized Twitter feeds we’ve added to the sidebar of every News and Sports article. Our goal is to make StanfordDaily.com your one-stop shop for Stanford news, whoever is providing it — and hopefully a place to feature the online conversations most relevant to the Farm.

Something else you might notice is a little box like this at the bottom of all of our new articles:

news@me

That’s a cutting-edge subscription service called News@me that we hope will change the way you get your news from us. If you’d like to receive a daily digest of articles customized to your own interests, all you have to do is subscribe at the bottom of a post by entering your email address, which will be linked to a handful of tags describing the post’s topic. Afterwards, you’ll receive at most one email a day with a list of stories whose tags match the ones you’ve subscribed to. From this email, you can also unsubscribe altogether or deactivate any of the tags you’ve subscribed to, allowing you to completely personalize the news you receive from us. (Users of our existing daily digest: Don’t worry, that’s here to stay too.)

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of administrative benefits to this site as well: more flexibility in how we manage our homepage, more ways to signal breaking news to our readers and more ways to feature the special content that we’ve come to expect from our talented staff.

That will help us foster more creativity from each and every editor and staffer, whether they’re interested in mental health or music festivals, student government or softball. Hopefully you’ll notice some of this growth over time, but as an early example, check out the interactive football roster that us sports nuts have developed as (hopefully) your new gameday companion inside Stanford Stadium.

Lastly, a project like this doesn’t come together without a whole lot of help from a whole lot of people. R.B. Brenner, the Deputy Director of the Journalism Program here at Stanford, deserves huge thanks for sparking this project in his Digital Journalism class and for his constant guidance throughout the quarter. VICE News’ Drake Martinet M.A. ’10 exposed us to the tools we needed, walked us through the staging process and provided great feedback late in the game, while Justin Ferrell and Emi Kolawole in the d.school got our typography on track and guided us with their keen design insights.

But most importantly, I can’t overstate the efforts of our editorial team, which has been quick to drink the digital Kool-Aid and even quicker to provide the nitpicking this site desperately needed throughout its development. It’s a brave new world for journalism, and George and I can’t wait to see how The Stanford Daily makes it our own.

As always, thanks for browsing.

Joseph Beyda ‘15, Web Developer

In memory of Barbara Beyda (1932-2013), my most loyal reader on the old stanforddaily.com

Have feedback on the new site? Share it with us at web@stanforddaily.com.

About Joseph Beyda

Joseph Beyda is the executive editor of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a junior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at" stanford.edu.
  • Winifred

    Looks great and terrific mobile and other functionality – congrats on the outcome (love the in memoriam, too).

  • Julia

    I’ve been having countless problems with the site (“502 Bad Gateway”) and I can only read articles about half the time since it switched over. I hope you’re aware that there’s a problem and you’re actively trying to fix it. Looks much better now at least!

  • Joseph Beyda

    Julia — we are aware of the issue and working hard to resolve it. Thanks for your readership!

  • Tristan Vanech

    Literally the one improvement I saw the opportunity for Stanford to make was this website. It looks so much better now! Can’t wait to start working on The Daily in the fall!