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'Kudos' to new charlotteobserver.com

Some are disappointed, but the majority say the total remake of our former site was well worthwhile.

Rick Thames
Rick Thames
Rick Thames leads The Observer's newsgathering operations and has worked as a journalist for 27 years.

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  • We will update this FAQ on the new CharlotteObserver.com as needed to answer pressing questions about the redesigned site.

    Q. How can I find the salary databases? The old URLs are now broken.

    A. Just go to www.charlotteobserver.com/data and you will find all the salary databases prominently displayed on the left. Then you can change your bookmarks. Other databases are being moved into the new site as soon as possible and will be added to this listing.

    Q. Where can I find the current crude oil price? It used to be on the homepage.

    A. Just click on Business in the top navigation and then on Market Summary.

    Q. The page is loading slower. Why?

    A. Launching a website means moving a large number of files, and in the case of a dynamic publishing system, re-creating and re-buiding the files in bulk. The combination of the bulk rebuilds, a technical issue on our rollout, and navigational changes on the fly means our site has been rebuilt IN ENTIRETY multiple times during the course of the day. The site's performance has definitely been affected.

    Now that the site has been rolled out and the files are stabilizing, the server will be allowed to rest (a little) and we'll see better performance, says Jason Silverstein, director of The Observer's Interactive division.

    Q. The site is not rendering properly on Firefox. The text and images run off the side of the page and there's no scroll bar at the bottom of the browser window.

    A. Some users reported similar problems on the old site as well as the new one. Our techs investigated and were unable to find any issues with our servers, CSS or anything else on our side. It appears to be problems associated with the latest Firefox update. (In some cases, the new site may be a tight squeeze for an older laptop monitor.)

    Q. I had problems in Internet Explorer getting slideshows to load.

    A. This problem has been fixed. If you continue to experience problems, email online@charlotteobserver.com.

    Q. My old bookmark, which used to redirect to www.charlotte.com, now creates a "page not found" error.

    A. In 2001, under Knight Ridder Digital, the URL to our site became www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte, which some users bookmarked. In February 2007, the URL was redirected to www.charlotte.com when we converted to the McClatchy patform. The old bookmark now redirects twice and renders this URL: www.charlotteobserver.com/mld/charlotte, which does not exist. We have reported this to tech support, but we suggest users replace their old bookmark with a new bookmark to CharlotteObserver.com.


One of the best features about our newly designed Web site, CharlotteObserver.com, is that you get a chance to comment on virtually every story and column we post.

Dozens of you took that opportunity Thursday in reaction to the new site, which debuted at 7 a.m. The first reader comment to arrive, at 7:01, was short and sweet.

“The new site looks awesome!”

Sure did to us, especially in comparison to that blank screen at 6:59 a.m.

The new CharlotteObserver.com is a total remake of our former site, Charlotte.com. That made Thursday morning's switch from old to new a very tricky maneuver that had been months in the making.

Not all the pieces immediately fell into place. Our staff worked hard to repair glitches throughout the day, and we expect to find still more as the site gets more use.

But a majority of you who left comments at the bottom of my introductory column said the change was worth it.

“Kudos on a fantastic makeover,” said one. “I don't care what anyone says, the site looks fresh, crisp, and dazzling.”

Some were disappointed for obvious reasons. For a time, people using Internet Explorer browsers couldn't open photo slideshows (that's fixed now). The site sometimes loaded sluggishly (a temporary ailment, attributable to the switch of platforms). Check the box to the right for frequently asked questions that may explain a problem you experienced.

One reader, disappointed with the overall appearance, speculated colorfully on how we created it.

“Looks like someone crammed content in a shot-gun and blasted it across the front page,” said one. “Awful and cluttered design.”

Another somehow smelled politics at work.

“All this change in the paper is driving me batty,” the reader wrote. “The paper was liberal before it sold out to McClatchy. Now it's ultra-liberal.”

Others who liked what they saw said they would not miss the old look at all.

“I've been waiting a long time for you guys to shake up that site,” said one. “It looks great.”

If you haven't already, we hope you'll go have a look for yourself. And do talk back.

To alert us to technical problems, e-mail us at online@charlotteobserver.com. If you'd like to offer your opinion, or read the opinions of others, try out the online comments feature attached to this column.

Reach Rick Thames at rthames@charlotteobserver.com or 704-358-5001.

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