Education

Redesigning Teacher

August 07, 2006 2 min read
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Our biggest project this summer has been redesigning the Teacher Magazine site. As Jeanne mentions below, we’re sort of queasy about giving firm dates for the completion of new projects (with good reason). But in this case, there was a press release going out, so we were cornered. We committed to Monday, Aug. 14, as the go-live date for the new design. (Originally, the launch was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11, but I managed to buy us an extra weekend just in case: I’ve been through site redesigns before.)

Anyway, we didn’t just decide just to redesign Teacher out of the blue. The new site is to accompany a major re-launch of the print magazine that’s been nearly a year in the planning. In an effort to meet changing market demands—and maybe create some new ones—Teacher Magazine will have a new editorial orientation: Each issue will focus on an important theme in education, starting this month with the Achievement Issue, and will be designed to give teachers the practical tools and information they need to spur reform. The magazine will also be more explicitly targeted to leaders in the teaching profession.

Our job was to translate this vision to the Web site. Being the Web team, we got a pretty late start on this, and then decided to do way more than was humanly possible anyway. We somehow resolved not only to integrate the magazine’s new format onto the site but also to give the site a thorough overhaul—i.e., to try out a bunch of new stuff we’d been talking about on a theoretical level for months. Among other things, we expanded the page width, diversified the layout, reworked navigational organization, and created lots of new space for multimedia and interactive features.

We’ve also tried to give Teacher a more distinct identity on edweek.org—as we’ve learned from a number of readers that it doesn’t really have one currently. (A lot of people apparently don’t even realize that the entire Teacher site is free with registration.)

All this hasn’t made for the most restful of summers. An older colleague of mine in a former job once told me that redesigning a publication is lot like making sausage—i.e., it ain’t pretty and you probably don’t want to be around for it. That quote has popped into my head at least a few times in recent months, particularly when our proposed new site design was in the dreaded “comment” stage. (Democracy can be a real nuisance sometimes.) But I think I can now safely say that things are coming together—thanks in large part to our remarkably talented and composed designer Chienyi “Cheri” Hung and our masterful technical consultant Serge Ivanchenko. We are very excited about what we have going.

So make sure to check out www.teachermagazine.org on Aug 14, if only to see if we make the deadline. We hope you like what you see. If enough people do, you may soon see something like it on the rest of edweek.org, too.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Behind the Scenes blog.

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