It was a big day, D-Day for the Travel Channel on About.com … where I happen to write and edit the Ireland Travel pages. After eight years of working for the New York outfit, witnessing comings and goings, ownership changes, management changes, new editorial policies … but only minute cosmetic changes to a layout that was, well, 20th century, to be charitable. I still sort-of-liked the layout, to be honest, but it had definite drawbacks and was most definitely a PITA on mobile devices.
So a few months ago the new management team under Neil Vogel announced big changes. At that moment I guess many a Guide (as we were called then, now we are called Experts) was, like, “Yeah, another owner, another CEO, another announcement … same old, same old!”
And then the work started – in New York, also here in Cavan. Because with every step towards a redesign … no, scratch that, a totally new design with totally new functionality … with every step it could be seen that there would be a lot of work ahead for freelancers (or independent contractors) like myself. If we chose to keep our sites spick and span. If we chose to roll with the punches at times. If we chose to get things done when they needed to be done … instead of mulling them over again and again.
That work has not ended. Neither has the work of the techies in New York. But what we saw yesterday was the roll-out of the new design, here is a screenshot from the Ireland Travel site about a minute after the switch …
Do I like it? What feck do you think? I love it … there might be the odd lingering niggles, some glitches here and there, but in general I think this is the best thing since sliced bread. Seriously. And while I am sure that the novelty will wear off, the functionality has improved immensely. And those shiny new images. Ah, let’s hear it …
Okay, enough … the Experts on the Travel Channel at About.com can now, indeed, show you the world in a whole new way. And the redesign lends itself to exploring beyond the border, to the outer fringes – and into totally new territory. Of course, while looking at Newgrange you might be surprised by finding the ten fastest roller coasters in the world linked beside an image of the tumulus … but that is the spice of life. Variety. Getting out of the rut.
Which might have been the thinking behind the redesign as well – About.com is a network of more than one thousand sites, you can get travel information here, but also learn about Irish and British cooking, about miniatures, about diabetes, even about the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat … and this is not even 0.5 % of the themes on offer!
And with this new design, I really think we will be going places, as a network.
Oh, one final thing … before you ask: I haven’t been paid or otherwise induced (whips, chains, free ice cream) to write a glowing blog entry. I am simply happy about the About.com redesign and how it actually worked fine on my site (with a good bit of preparation and extra work). And I really think that the network has now arrived in the 21st century. With the addition that I feel that nobody will be allowed to rest on any laurels too long, but that further improvements will come in time, as technology emerges and the markets demand.