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Some website rollouts easier than others

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

After we made some changes last week in the digital products of Sauk Valley Media, we got an email from a regional editor for MCT news service.

“As you may know, McClatchy Tribune collects news stories each day from the Sauk Valley Newspapers website,” he wrote, missing the fact that our name had changed slightly. “We then distribute these stories to authorized newspapers and corporate clients.

“However, the implementation of the new paywall has prevented us from accessing these stories. ...”

We did make changes, but among them was not a requirement that online readers have to pay for access.

Maybe someday, but not now.

WITH FAR LESS fanfare and far fewer problems than HealthCare.gov, Sauk Valley Media launched its new website early last week.

We realize that such things are not done without some glitches – some technical, some human.

Fortunately, our bureaucracy is much smaller than the federal government’s.

We think we’ve addressed any problems with saukvalley.com and that it’s fully functional.

We offer no such assurance for HealthCare.gov.

MANY READERS get their local news, feature and sports content in more ways than one.

But they all turn to Sauk Valley Media.

Even you readers of the print edition might also check in on your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you’re away from home.

And you might have wondered why you encountered different formats on different devices.

That’s the nature of an evolving media company.

But now, all “platforms” follow our website design, with the same stories and headlines, regardless of device used to access saukvalley.com.

Inconsistency can be so annoying.

REACTION HAS been positive – and why wouldn’t it be?

The site loads faster. It looks better. It’s easier to use.

One online reader sent an email to the editor to say she was pleasantly surprised – she was accustomed to website redesigns being troublesome.

Of course, anything new takes some getting used to.

Some things have been moved around on the site, a few things have been eliminated, and readers have had to re-register if they want to post comments.

One noticeable change was limiting the number of links at the top of the homepage.

Readers can scroll down to find additional links that used to be higher on the page – important links to such content as obituaries, police news, and blogs.

But that’s an easy enough leap to make once you’re accustomed to it.

AS WOULD BE expected, the need to re-register has – at least temporarily – cut down the number of story comments being posted.

But some trade-offs make that a good change.

First, readers can register with an existing Facebook or Twitter account, or create a new sign-on through Livefyre once they get onto the site.

Also, comments now can be attached specifically to another comment in a thread, and readers can help to police the comments section.

Commenters also can “like” a comment similar to “liking” a post on Facebook.

And you do not need to register if you’re only viewing – not making – comments.

So you can still watch the fight without getting involved in the brawl.

READERS OF THE eEdition had a few more problems.

The link to the print facsimile was no longer easy to find – tucked behind the MORE link at the top of the homepage.

We fixed that with a specific link on the horizontal bar that runs atop the website’s front page.

And eEdition readers needed a new sign-on.

Our apologies for making the whole process so bothersome.

The user’s experience could have been made much easier with a little more preparation on our end.

But it could have been worse.

Just ask HealthCare.gov.

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