By Bob Allen
Today, Associated Baptist Press unveils a long-overdue website upgrade to better function as the primary delivery system of the nation’s first and only independent news service created by and for Baptists.
Made possible by a grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, the new ABPnews.com is designed to be more user-focused than the old site, making it easier for readers to find what they are looking for. It also updates old software, making it more secure and reliable. Last year a hacker attack forced both the ABP and New Voice partner sites offline for several days, and there have been intermittent interruptions since then due to security flaws.
The new design segregates news and commentary, clarifying the distinction between factual reporting by professional journalists and columns and commentaries, which bring perspective to the news but reflect the opinions of the authors and not the staff, directors or supporters of Associated Baptist Press.
New branding as ABP News describes more accurately the expanded content since ABP’s early days as primarily a news service for Baptist state newspapers and secular media, as well as the move from solely a print audience to multiple electronic media platforms including web, daily and weekly e-mails and social networking outlets Facebook and Twitter.
The new site will keep stories on the front page longer and make finding them more intuitive after they have rotated off onto secondary landing pages. User tabs marked “Culture,” “Faith” and “Ministry” group stories with subcategories that appear in roll-down menus. A color-coded rotating “ticker” at the top of the page displays headline links to the most recent stories added to each category.
Columnists’ most recent articles appear on the home page, and each has a landing page where his or her previously published articles can also be found. Commentaries from frequent and occasional contributors are available on the Commentaries landing page.
New features are still being added and others are planned, but those coinciding with launch include a new Classifieds section and Baptist Newswire – a press release service from related organizations in the Baptist network. Both features are being introduced as beta or test projects.
The site continues to aggregate news from other sources as News Elsewhere, but in a more attractive and user-friendly way. New main-page modules track those news and opinion articles that attract the largest number of readers.
Glitches are inevitable in a major website overhaul, and readers may notice some temporary bugs like older articles that don’t show up in the Archives link at the bottom of the page and comments on stories that got dropped as stories migrated from old to new servers. Those issues are discussed in more detail at our “Welcome” page.
The new website now offers multiple ways to “subscribe,” with icons in the far-right column on the home page for Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and e-mail. Coding is available to set up customized news feeds with the ABP logo for church and organization websites.