Obviously there is a ton of new stuff here, and if you're a long-time reader of the site, you'll probably be a little shell-shocked at first. Don't worry, we're still cranking out news the way we always have; in fact, we think the new design will allow us to crank even harder and provide more up-to-the-minute info to you guys. If you're a new reader, you picked the right time to check us out, because the site has never been more organized, had more content, or been more useful to someone who's reading us for the first time!
We just want to say that this has been a long labor of love, and we're thrilled that we get to share it with the world. We think that the new Engadget evolves our work in a major way, moving us from a straightforward blog into something else, an expandable amalgamation that fuses the good bits of blogs, social media, news sites, magazines, and video into something bigger than those parts.
We're going to walk you guys through some of the major new features (there are a ton, believe us), but first we want to talk a little about how the site got to where it is right now, and who the people are responsible for this thing. Read on after the break for all the info!
Update: Hey, we're having a few issues with the introduction of the new site. Hang tight, it'll be perfect soon!
First and foremost, the new Engadget is built from a collaboration between the editorial / developer team here, and the amazing, genius designers at Code & Theory -- a group responsible for sites such as The Daily Beast and Interview. We brought our huge stack of concepts and ideas to Code & Theory, and they managed to distill our dreams into reality. We tip our hats to the men and women there who focused what we wanted into the site you see today; their contribution to our new look and feel cannot be overstated.
Secondly -- but certainly not any less important -- are the teams on our side that put this thing together. Justin Glow and Dan Chilton (our resident developers... well Justin is on loan from Joystiq) took the beautiful skin that Code & Theory created and built the bones and guts with wildly creative code that we're using all over the place (really, everywhere). They upended what we thought was possible with our platform and our site; there is no way to accurately describe how instrumental they were in our relaunch, except to say this site wouldn't be here today without them. Amidst all the other work going on, the WIN design team helped put all the puzzle pieces into place, solved issues that had us scratching our heads, and made sure we were shipshape for launch. Team Blogsmith, the stewards of the amazing platform Engadget runs atop of, made some killer and clutch changes that let us make some of the magic you're seeing on the page. Without them, the new Engadget would have been only a dream!
The biggest change of all is probably the fact that we've somewhat merged our three main sites together. That is to say, where Engadget Mobile and Engadget HD were totally separate entities before, we're now able to share more content across the sites and allow for readers to more easily jump between the properties. We'll no longer have duplicate posts on the three sites either -- one post will exist, and will appear on whatever site is appropriate, perfectly syncing comments, galleries, and links. That has benefits beyond the front page, too. It means we can offer RSS feeds for all which omit duplicate stories, or give you a super feed of every story posted to every site, so there's no way you'll miss any piece of news. Keep in mind, Mobile and HD will keep their unique content and identity, but the new system will be somewhat different and might take a little adjusting to. We're confident that once you see how the sites play together, you'll love it as much as we do.
Besides that, we've got a bunch of new content and navigation here as well. We're figuring that most of you will just start clicking around like maniacs to check out what we've done (we don't read manuals either), but here's a few highlights anyway:
- The homepage. We're really psyched on our new homepage. Not only can we surface big features and major stories we cover up in the strip at the top of the site (we call it the "hero module"), we're also able to surface a bunch of important / timely stories in our Top Stories cluster, which lets us push news we think is of particular interest right into your first view, giving you an overview of the last few hours of tech news in a single glance (you can also jump to the newest headline with just a click). You'll also note that we now have persistent navigation to all of the pages on the site (many of which are brand new)!
- New sidebar modules. We've totally revamped all of our sidebars and mini-content views. It would take a long time to go into all of the new functionality over there, but we're hooking into the site in all kind of new ways, and working to deliver better, more relevant content to readers. These will be updated frequently, and added to as time goes on, so keep your eyes to the right.
- Hubs. You've seen the basic hubs we used to have on the old Engadget, but we've totally juiced the new ones with more content and more dynamic ways of showing context. We're grouping our hubs into three main sections: products, topics, and events. The topic and event hubs include one of our favorite tools, the "Follow the saga" module, which lets you view a timeline of a product over weeks, months, and years. It's really cool -- check it out! Also, we plan on utilizing the event hubs for ongoing events, giving you a feed of our liveblog, while dynamically updating the content on that page. It will be truly awesome -- just wait.
- Proper video and gallery pages. Pretty simple, but we're really happy to have a place where you can peruse all of that extra content in a useful and enjoyable manner.
- New topics page with content sorting. Kinda says it all -- super easy way to find what you're looking for in any category.
- Better via and sourcing... and More Coverage. Vias and sources are now clearly displayed with the name of the sites where our stories are coming from, making it super simple to follow the breadcrumbs. Doubleplus good? We've added a new feature called More Coverage, which lets us aggregate links related to what we're reporting on. We're really psyched about this -- it gives us a chance to direct readers to stories that take a different angle on the news, go deeper, or we think are just plain worth reading. You'll start to see this all over the place, because we want to not just be a source for news, but a resource as well.
- Improved search. Our search tool still isn't Google level or anything, but we're now able to return not only relevant search results, but tag results and galleries. We suggest single word searches for the best results, but try phrases... you may get lucky!
- Archives. This one is especially awesome to us. See that calendar on the right side? Click on a date -- you'll get that full day's news, plus a really cool visualization -- something we call The Recap -- of the stories of the day crossed by time and comment activity. We think it's not only a nice looking piece of functionality, but helps give you a better idea of our ebb and flow of posts. We'll also be transporting that module to places like our daily roundup, allowing us to give you a better picture of where the news went that day in a more concise and clear manner.
You'll notice some changes to comments which should make using the system and carrying on a conversation way more pleasant.
The first and probably biggest change is that we now have persistent logins, and permanent, dedicated usernames. That means two things; firstly, you can select a proper username for your account which will be PERMANENT and UNCHANGEABLE, meaning you get to have a real identity here (and that no one can take or duplicate your name once you've chosen it). Secondly, persistent logins mean you can just login at the top of the site (up in the header) once (like a real website!), and comment to your heart's content.
While both of these things are totally radical, you'll need to do a couple of things to get started. First, when you login with your current account, you should be prompted to pick a username. When selecting a username, take care to grab exactly what you want (using letters and numbers only, no special characters, and not case sensitive). You'll have that name forever. Since these are unique, they're pretty much first come first served, which means if you want to grab John Smith, you better get to the party early. No matter what, we can't help you get a username you want -- you have to come and register it and hope that it's available. Furthermore, there is the possibility that your old cookies may log you in without letting you pick a new username. That's bad because your account becomes unverified (as you can see above), which means your name won't display in comments at all, and we'll eventually delete all unclaimed accounts (the comments will stay, but the login info will no longer work and you'll have to create a new account).
The easiest way to correct this issue is to just jump to www.engadget.com/login (or the header up top) and logout. When you log back in with your CURRENT CREDENTIALS, you'll be asked to pick a new username, and boom: you're in. It's as simple as that. Again, we can't guarantee that you guys will get the exact name you want, but you're pretty creative -- we know you'll do okay.
Other than that, you'll see we've changed the look and feel of comments, and made some real improvements that make it easier to carry on a real conversation. We now provide "reply" links at the bottom of every comment, which means that you're actually answering the person you want to answer. On top of that, the comment will begin with an @username (don't worry, you can erase it), which specifically calls out the person you're talking to. It's a little Twitterism that we think is pretty handy here. You should also find that those annoying bugs with misplaced comments have left the building.
We've changed the display of comments too -- now when you downrank someone (as we know you guys love to do), their comment just disappears. For all the trolls out there, prepare to have your hearts broken. Also, we've made it so that the editors of the site can't be ranked at all. We think that it's important that everyone who reads the site can see what they have to say, and this is the most effective way to do that.
The team at Engadget, as well as Justin and Dan, WIN design, Blogsmith, Code & Theory, and a score of folks at AOL have been working tirelessly on this project for some considerable time. We've put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this, and it's incredible to finally take the wraps off!
Let me switch to the first person here for a moment. I just want to say a huge "thank you" to some specific folks who have supported this and helped make it happen. First and foremost is Josh Fruhlinger, the editorial director of the AOL Tech Network -- without him I am positive we never would have gotten this site relaunched, or done all the amazing things we've done with it. He has been instrumental in this project from day one. I'd also like to thank Marty Moe and Bill Wilson at AOL, who supported us from the get-go and trusted us to do what we wanted. Brad Hill, the director of Weblogs, Inc. was also incredibly supportive and positive about this and has been a great friend and champion of the site and our vision through this process. I also want to thank Victor Hasemen at AOL and Rob Sandie at Viddler for their vigilance on getting video right for the site.
One last person I would like to single out who has been incredibly gracious, patient, and helpful during this is Joystiq's Editor-in-chief Chris Grant. Not only did he allow us to yank Justin Glow on-board for this project, but he's helped me from day one with planning, visualizing, and executing some of these ideas we've had.
Lastly, I want to thank you guys -- the readers -- for reading this site through the years, and not just reading, but coming back for more and in greater numbers. At the end of the day, this thing is for you, and we hope that you enjoy the new site as much as we do. That said, we're open to any suggestions or comments on ways we can improve the experience or offer more. We view this as an iterative process, so we're not planning on stopping here at all. In fact, we're just getting things started.