The National Catholic Reporter's new website, seen on Oct. 18 (NCR screenshot)
When the founders of the National Catholic Reporter decided to publish an independent, national Catholic newspaper almost 60 years ago, they could not have imagined that today's news would be delivered through Twitter, TikTok, e-newsletters and a multimedia website.
But those are some of the tools of today's journalists, and NCR editorial staff bring the same professionalism to those digital tools as we do to production of our biweekly print edition. Today, we are excited to introduce our updated and redesigned websites for NCR, EarthBeat and Global Sisters Report, which feature fresher, more organized and more functional designs.
>It has been five years since our sites were last redesigned, and last night's launch of the new sites represents almost two years of work on the part of many NCR/GSR staff, most especially managing editor Stephanie Yeagle, who has put in countless hours as the project lead. We also want to thank the design team at Garcia Media and our web developers at Congruity Works. Although the redesign was partially necessitated by a required update to our content management system (the software that creates the site), it also is an attempt to make the sites more reader-friendly and effective.
We would like to walk you through some of the changes and improvements you'll see on the new NCR site.
The overall look is cleaner, fresher and uses more graphics and photos, while making it easier for readers to find stories and discover other content on the website through easily navigable sections such as "The Latest," "Editors' Choice," "Most Read Stories" and "In Focus."
In the site's masthead you'll find a slightly updated NCR logo, although it maintains a strong connection to the previous one and to our traditional "NCR blue" color. Colors are used throughout the three sites to differentiate between NCR (blue), EarthBeat (green) and Global Sisters Report (purple). Also in the masthead are easy links to an improved "Search" (just above the NCR logo) and to pages where you can sign up for our free e-newsletters, donate, subscribe or renew your subscription (to the right).
Directly under the masthead is our new organizational system, which moves NCR from 18 sections or channels to a more manageable seven: News, Vatican, Culture, Opinion, Spirituality, EarthBeat and Global Sisters Report. Readers can click on each of those words and find all the content that fits that category. Some quick takes about what is where:
- In Vatican: news reports from the Vatican and "Francis, the comic strip";
- In Culture: book reviews and other reviews and essays about movies, music, television and art;
- In Opinion: Michael Sean Winters, Franciscan Fr. Daniel P. Horan, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister and other NCR contributors and guest opinion essays, plus NCR editorials and letters to the editor;
- In Spirituality: Pat Marrin's daily Pencil Preaching reflections; weekly Scripture for Life; Sunday Resources; Soul Seeing and other spiritual essays;
- In EarthBeat: news and commentary about the intersection of faith and environmental justice;
- In Global Sisters Report: reported stories, columns, Q&As and other news by and about Catholic sisters;
- In News: pretty much everything else–reported stories on the church, politics, people (including obituaries), social justice issues, parishes and the world.
To the right of the three featured stories on NCR's home page is "The Latest" — a constantly updated list of all content published on NCR, EarthBeat and GSR throughout the day. Immediately below is a group of recent stories curated as "Editors' Choice" followed by an occasional "In Focus" story featured with a large photo. Next is a list of the "Most Read Stories" based on our web analytics. All of these are places to find new content or stories you might have missed if you don't visit our website every day.
The rest of the website displays the most recent stories in each of the sections, although you can click on the section title to go to pages that contain all content from that section. Toward the bottom is an easy way to sign up for any of our e-newsletters, which can be delivered directly to your email inbox and inform you about the stories you want to know about.
Each article page on the newly designed site makes it easy for readers to share the story on social media, visit the author page for additional stories by the same writer, send a letter to the editor about the article, and follow the author on Twitter or other social media. In addition, side rails direct visitors to more content, such as "Most Read" or "Read more on this."
We look forward to your comments and feedback on the new site (and those can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org), although we ask for your patience as we work out any kinks in the first days. Although we have worked hard to address as many issues as we could discover in the testing phase, we know that the addition of thousands of more readers to the new sites will likely uncover additional ones.
Although the redesign is currently limited to our websites, plans to refresh the print edition are also in the works. Stay tuned in the new year for improvements to the newspaper.