How not to upgrade a website…

My local paper, the Merced Sun-Star recently upgraded their website….

Unfortunately, despite some improvements it has become a lesson in how not to upgrade a website.

The first thing I noticed was that all my RSS subscriptions were not refreshing. So I visited the site, to find out what had happened. Whilst there are some new “bells and whistles”, a lot of the site does not seem to be working as expected.

For example, there are browser incompatibility issues. Some portions of the pages do not appear correctly in Safari and Firefox, but work ok in Internet Explorer.

The comments engine sometimes no longer works at all on some articles.

The RSS feeds were completely broken, and do not seem to be refreshing currently.

There are references and oops’ to other newspapers all over the place. For example on the RSS page, the instructions tell you how to get (The Modesto Bee’s website) rss feeds.

My lovely wife has commented that to find articles is now a little harder, although this may just be a “because its new” gripe.

Also I ran the w3c validator over the site, and it came up with 97 errors… On HTML 4.01 Transitional (Which I think is the easiest to validate to as well).

All in all, its like the took some code from other websites, and copy and pasted the merced sun-stars name into various places and went live…

This is yet another example where a public beta, or a proper Q & A could have helped.

I know this is a great leap forward for the Sun-Star (Although I kinda liked the previous late 90’s style website), but perhaps the leap has become a bit of a stumble…

Lets hope they fix it soon enough.

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