Websites are like icebergs. What you see on the surface usually offers the merest hint of the big, complex world that lies beneath. ProPublica’s site is no different.
Since our start nearly 10 years ago, the system we use to publish our website has cranked out thousands of entries and been through countless retrofits, modifications, gleeful hacks and willful workarounds. It’s picked up its fair share of iceberg-level complexity, too.
Digital publishing is a bigger, wilder and way more interesting beast than when we started, reflecting both the march of technological change and the evolution of how journalism is done. So today we’re taking the wraps off ProPublica’s new CMS to help us stay at the forefront of our rapidly evolving field. This is the first complete overhaul of our publishing platform since, well, ever. We’ve designed this new system to take us into the next phase of our journey, and we’ve taken the opportunity to build in a few additional improvements.
Regular visitors to the site will notice a cleaner, more modern design along with improved navigation. A new “Topics” section helps users find reporting that’s of interest to them, and a new “Impact” page helps everyone quickly see the effect our journalism is having in the world. It’s also easier to scan and move between pieces in our regular reporting series (formerly “Investigations”), as well as our Data Store and new Illinois unit. We even took a moment to freshen up our logo.
Everything is built on a fully responsive “mobile-first” design that looks and works well on all devices. Pages load faster and are more secure thanks to completely rebuilt front-end code and the removal of outdated third-party software. And a modular design system lets us update and add features quickly and easily.
Below the waterline, we’ve gained the ability to publish even faster and with less overhead. Hundreds of old settings, switches and fields have been streamlined or removed to create a production environment that’s built by and for producers. And our developers have gained a whole new set of tools to build and deploy updates to our site, paving the way for improvements to come.
You’ll also be able to read more about our work going forward with a key addition to ProPublica’s Nerd Blog: More nerds! In addition to posts from our data journalism team we’re expanding this space to include behind-the-scenes updates from our design, engagement and business development groups.
We’re looking forward to building an even better ProPublica for you. In the meantime, if you spot an issue or want to share your thoughts, email us at [email protected].