Happy Birthday WRAL-TV: WRAL.com Re-Launches Web Site

WRAL-TV logo Happy Birthday WRAL-TV:
WRAL.com Re-Launches Web Site
New WRAL.com homepage
WRAL.com has a new look just in time for WRAL-TV’s 50th anniversary.

WRAL.com, one of the nation’s most popular local media Web sites, re-launched its Web site Friday, December 15, 2006, on the 50th birthday of WRAL-TV, introducing a sleek new look, streamlined navigation, enhanced video players, a powerful site search and new local and national content.

“The new design and content reflects what our visitors and customers want from us,” said CBC New Media Group VP & General Manager Jimmy Goodmon.  “The new site will load faster, content will be easier to find – especially video, and visitors will have more opportunity to interact with the content, each other and with us.”

The new homepage features a simpler horizontal navigation menu at the top of the page, prominently placed Flash video player, more and larger images with top stories, and enhanced search functionality.

What’s New:

Video Player
The video player features live streaming of WRAL-TV’s latest newscast, the WRAL.com NewsChannel, WRAL WeatherCenter Channel, Doppler5000 and other live feeds, such as press conferences and traffic cameras.

The new player offers tabbed browsing of on-demand video clips by topic as well as keyword searching. Non-live clips play almost instantly because of the use of Flash technology. The site continues to use Windows Media for live streaming.

“Video is our strength and advantage, and the new player and placement of video throughout the site plays to that strength,” Goodmon said. “We expect to see a substantial increase in video viewing.”

Search also has been dramatically upgraded, allowing users to sort results by date, relevance, section, headline, and asset type. The search engine indexes stories, photos, video, Flash files, audio, PDF documents and key pages. Search results pages include thumbnail images when photos or videos are associated with a story.

New Content
New content on the site includes local movie and event listings, horoscopes, additional traffic cameras and weather maps, and photos and multimedia from the Associated Press.

The new site also makes it easier for visitors to find stories, stats, schedules and other details about their favorite sports team.

New Tools
With the rollout of the new site, WRAL.com also is introducing new or improved tools to allow visitors to access content on a variety of platforms, such as cell phones, PDAs, and iPods. The new site also offers a large number of RSS feeds, and simple tools are available to place WRAL News and WeatherCenter forecasts on personal or corporate Web pages.

A Bonus for Advertisers
For advertisers, the new design places ad units in more prominent locations. Most pages feature two Internet Advertising Bureau ad units “above the fold.”

Inside the Changes

WRAL.com General Manager John Conway has put together a blog to give WRAL.com surfers the inside track on changes, updates and improvements to the Web Site.

Conway explains the the new size of the site on your browser:
The fixed width also allows us to design pages knowing that it will look consistent in visitors’ browsers regardless of their screen resolution or the size of the browser window being used to view pages.

And he reminds readers that despite all the new design features, that their number one goal is news:
Our philosophy has always been that content is king. And that certainly is the case with the new WRAL.com, coming this month to a computer screen near you.

Read all about it on Dot John – Inside WRAL.com

Planning for the new site began in December 2005. Richmond, Va.-based Ironworks provided information architecture and usability services, while Raleigh-based CapStrat provided design and additional usability testing services.

With the re-launch, all Web site functions – including hosting, maintenance, content creation, design service and advertising sales – are based in Raleigh.

Internet Broadcasting in Minneapolis, which had hosted and maintained the WRAL.com Web site since 2001, will provide some national content to WRAL.com and some national advertising.

Thanks to NMG’s John Conway for this capcom story & graphic.


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