Just over a year ago we launched the NPR API. Last night we launched a redesign of the NPR.org Web site as well as substantive changes to the CMS and APIs behind it. Things are moving quickly at NPR.org!
You may have seen Scott Simon's video tour, and you may have seen the editorial note, but over the next couple of weeks we will be posting the technical story behind this redesign. In a series of posts to Inside NPR.org we will be discussing the changes we made to our processes, changes to our tools, and changes that are both visible and not so directly visible NPR.org users.
While our planning for a site redesign goes back for sometime, for a variety of reasons we did not formalize our goals and begin technical work until early in 2009. Our stated goals were:
Create better flexibility in how we could publish a Web site. Update the design and usability of the site. Improve editorial efficiency in publishing.
The first goal was to allow greater freedom in how editorial staff could present content. Previously, any major efforts to display anything differently required application development. The second was about aesthetics and usability, while the third was reducing repetitive tasks and improving tools for our editorial group. The team who was to implement these goals convened for the first time in early February. We set a date of mid-summer as a reasonable time frame to make significant strides on all three goals - even though we didn't really know what the end product was going to be. What we did know was that this was going to be the largest project for NPR Digital Media to-date. Beyond just the scope of the project itself, we were going to have to make changes to some of our tools and processes to succeed.
Six months of effort culminated last night. We kicked off preliminary migration efforts around 11am. We optimistically hoped to be done by early afternoon. Then the various realities of completely overhauling the Web site and our CMS hit. While there weren't any massive surprises, we had a bunch of time-intensive delays that resulted in large part of the team working for over 14 hours. Shortly before midnight, NPR.org had a new look, the API had new features and a bunch of internal tools had changed.
As we continue the series around the launch of the redesign, we'll be covering a variety of topics: changes to the API, changes to our development tools, changes to our publishing tools and more.
Next up: the NPR tech team tweets its way through the site migration, including our various trials, introspections, wit and wisdoms, and how our mascot Zelda kept us sane for last night's launch.