Good morning, Bradenton.com users! Welcome to our new look and feel — more inviting, less confusing, less cluttered and easier to use.
And what a long way we have come. Longtimers probably remember our "hip" beginnings in the mid-1990s, when the Herald proudly introduced BHIP.com — short for Bradenton Herald Internet Plus, a site that offered a smattering of local news about schools, law enforcement, business news and entertainment. And there was this standing headline 15 years ago: "Frequently asked questions about Manatee Avenue construction work." Some things never change!
Fast forward to today and the Bradenton Herald's newest online evolution. Web Developer William Winter has been working almost 24-7 in recent weeks to make this happen, along with a team of top-notch interactive directors with McClatchy, our parent company. Highlights of this new design are:
It's easier to use. Our readers will have a better overall experience when using Bradenton.com.
It's much faster. The speed of delivering story pages and other content to our readers has increased.
The site has a sharp, clean layout. Great effort has been put into providing a clean, uncluttered look for Bradenton.com.
It offers more compelling, effective advertising positions. Advertisers with three other McClatchy sites that have already made the switch have been pleased with how their ads are now being noticed by users.
The photos and photo galleries are spectacular. The site is designed to showcase the stunning photography and visual journalism produced every day by the Herald's talented photojournalists — and they are thrilled.
These changes will help the Herald's editors, reporters and photographers get the news to you first in real time, whether that's on your smart phone, your iPad or your computer. And they'll have more opportunities to add depth to that report for the next day's print editions, both in the Bradenton Herald and Lakewood Ranch Herald.
You will still find all of your favorite features on Bradenton.com, including the latest breaking news, watchdog journalism, crime and court news, local business coverage, sports of all kinds, entertainment, editorials and columnists. You'll find our blogs, including our most popular "BuzzWorthy" by Features Writer Wade Tatangelo, and our newest with the photo staff's "Through the Lens" and Business Reporter Josh Salman's "Manatee Money Matters."
But the clutter is gone from Bradenton.com, going a long way to answering the No. 1 complaint about our site from users over the years.
A few other things to know about our next-generation site:
If you're already registered, your existing username and password carries over to the new site.
If you've bookmarked special pages, such as our high school preps page or columnist Vin Mannix, those links should not change.
The best browsers to use are Firefox 3.6 or higher, Internet Explorer 7 or higher, and Chrome.
A "stay-connected" bar anchors the bottom of every page, taking you to all of our social media: our Facebook page and Twitter links, our mobile phone apps, the electronic reproduction of our newspaper (and our archives), and how to reach us.
We've posted a question-and-answer form on Bradenton.com, along with a feedback form we hope you'll use. That will help us fix any glitches, gauge how you're using the site and what works the best. If you find something that looks like it's not working, please let us know.
I'm excited about all these changes, and we're looking forward to hearing how you like it. You can let us know what you think at http://www.bradenton.com/customer-service/
Joan Krauter is the executive editor/vice president of the Bradenton Herald and Bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @JEKrauter, or on The Editor's Blog at www.bradentonherald.blogspot.com