With the exception of some dysfunctional bells and whistles, Stereogum’s format hasn’t changed that much from the personal blog I created in January 2002 as a way to share stupid Britney Spears photos and Avalanches MP3s. Everything’s different now. (‘Til Tuesday reference — great start, Scott.)
The impetus for the redesign is our move from Movable Type to WordPress as a publishing platform and community toolset. We had been using Movable Type since importing blog archives from LiveJournal to Stereogum.com in 2003.
Due to early attempts to customize this content management system for a music blog, every day since has been fraught with major technical difficulties. 404s, slow load times, publishing errors, etc. Often the site would be down for hours at a time. That is what we call a “bad user experience.”
The move to WordPress resolves a lot of issues and inefficiencies that are invisible to users, yet enable us to blog better. But also there are changes that are not invisible!
The most prominent cosmetic upgrade (aside from spiffy logos and color palettes) involves new areas of the homepage intended to prevent stories from getting buried. If you prefer to browse via the old uncategorized, reverse-chronological format you still can: stereogum.com/news. Otherwise, on the upper left of the site you’ll see a TOP STORIES module that cycles through teasers of recent notable posts. On the upper right of the homepage is MP3 & STREAMS, a list of the latest audio we’ve posted. All MP3s we host will now automatically have associated streams so you can preview tracks before downloading.
In the center column of the homepage are links to our latest VIDEOS and PHOTO GALLERIES. Photos and videos on the new site are bigger, and gallery pages load quickly thanks to Ajax thumbnails that let you more easily find Zooey and Noah, for example.
The bottom left of the homepage highlights recent editions of regular columns like Band To Watch, Progress Report, Premature Evaluation, and Haunting The Chapel.
On the bottom right is a quilt of album covers showing our favorite new music. We have been updating and archiving this HEAVY ROTATION page for years, but it was difficult to find on the old site.
Videogum — our sister site about TV, movies, and trampoline accidents — has been given a facelift as well, but its homepage intentionally retains the old blog format for various reasons I will tell you about another time. Congratulate the monsters here.
Most importantly, both sites have disabled the ability to comment without a user account. This will not only raise the level of discourse about the topics we cover (o hai, radiohed), but will cut hours out of my week spent deleting duplicate comments, spam, hate speech, bands promoting themselves, band publicists commenting under fake names (yes, we track IP addresses), street teams, and people having conversations with themselves because they are bored and/or aiming to annoy everyone.
We would not exist were it not for the informed (and often clever) readers who share feedback, tips, and gossip. We are tired of seeing your voices drowned out by assholes.
If you already have a Stereogum/Videogum user account, you will have to change your password before commenting on the new site(s). Won’t you please do that right now? I’ll wait…
Thanks. You no doubt noticed that our new user pages have fields for you to link to your profiles on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, last.fm, Hype Machine, and MySpace. Promote your band/brand there, not in the comments of a random post.
If you don’t want to create a ‘Gum user profile for some reason, you can comment using your Facebook account.
On Stereogum you can now comment with html to embed images or format text. Previously this functionality existed only on Videogum. Comment ratings (i.e., community “scores”) on both ‘Gums will display only to folks who are logged in.
You can still be a dick; there will just be a bit more transparency.
If you subscribe to either site via RSS you should not have to change a thing. Our feeds are the same. If you experience problems with that or anything on the new sites, get in touch via our new tech support line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Glitches happen, but we have done everything to prevent them. Operators are standing by.
On a personal note I want to thank my staff — Amrit Singh, Brandon Stosuy, Gabe Delahaye, and Jessica Suarez — who are the best coworkers anyone could ask for, as well as Jim Jazwiecki, Angela Williams, and Lindsay Robertson who played essential roles in bringing us to where we are today. More than anything this site produced I am glad to have their friendship. You are all fired.
Finally thanks to BUZZMEDIA’s product development team — Ron Parsons, Justin Street, and Greg Jackson — who worked tirelessly on this relaunch and have Skyped daily with me since mid-November. I hope to meet them IRL very soon.
And now on a serious (not serious) note, I share this threat I just found in a pile of mail:
Amrit went to law school, I will ask him about it.
P.S. re: will we listen to your band, the answer is here.