By Jim McCloskey
I celebrated another birthday on September 9, and one of the coolest gifts I received was the word that a major renovation of WaterShapes.com was ready for final review – and would, crossing that hurdle, be ready for public launch alongside release of the September 20 edition of the WaterShapes newsletter – this very day!
It’s our first major update in several years and the first wholesale change since we launched the full site back in 2012. In addition to a cleaner, clearer, more open look – mostly made possible by widening the template by about a third – there are new type styles and colors to go along with more and bigger images.
It’s an important step for us, largely because the new system is entirely mobile-friendly – a real necessity in modern site management that means even my children might be more inclined to take a look at what their dad does to keep busy.
It’s also another huge step away from the measure of control I had over the way things looked when WaterShapes was a printed magazine: Now some algorithm or other figures out how things will arrange themselves on the new-fangled mobile page. I don’t exactly like that, but I see so many advantages in mobile-friendly formatting that I can’t complain more than half-heartedly.
The thing I’ve been told is that any major upgrading like this will introduce some weirdnesses that can’t be anticipated and won’t be spotted until people really start digging through the site using all the many platforms there are across the globe. Everything can be massaged and corrected, I’ve been assured – but finding some of the subtler deviations may take time, so right up front, I beg your indulgence while we comb through everything.
My daughter, who saw the new WaterShapes.com in preview form, reminded me how tortured the process of revamping the printed version of WaterShapes had been when we tackled that task in early 2009. We’d gone through the first ten years of publication with no more than some interim tweaks: When the time came to go whole hog all at once, I was apparently a bit obsessive about getting things right.
Our Art Director did a fine job, of course, but I kept worrying about shaking things up in the throes of a difficult economy and kept wondering whether readers and advertisers would like and accept the changes we’d made. Yes, I was a bit obsessive: The new design had been in development for months by the time we rolled it out, and I recalled having the same sorts of feelings and anxieties as when we launched the magazine in the first place back in 1999. I felt a bit silly then, and I guess I’m feeling a little silly now.
Change isn’t easy, but with something like this, it’s important: We’re keeping up with technology, which is crucial, but we’re also gaining on the sorts of looks that make web sites appealing these days, and that’s crucial, too. So give it a look and let us know what you think: It’s taken us months to get here, and we can’t wait for some feedback!