Redesigning the oldest college daily

Welcome to the new Yale Daily News. In the fall of 2014, our small team of developers and designers decided to rebuild the YDN’s digital home from the ground up. A lot has changed since the paper first came online in 1999. Almost half of the News’ readers now access the site from devices that didn’t exist back then. The web is not a second-class citizen, but rather a primary way that readers interact with the newspaper. Despite all this change, the YDN site hasn’t evolved much since it first launched.

We set out to create a thoughtfully designed experience that meets the needs of the modern reader. The site should be so much more than just a digital imitation of the print paper. Our goal was to take full advantage of the power of the web. The new YDN gives you a more engaging, visually immersive look at the news. And for the first time, it’s easy to read and navigate the site no matter what size screen you’re on.

The homepage uses a card-based design, which makes the site more flexible and dynamic than ever. Editors have far more control over the layout and prominence of each individual story. The content now has room to breathe, and as a result, the day’s news is easier to make sense of.

The improvements to the site extend beyond the homepage. We’ve refined the typography on the article pages and removed distractions from the sidebar so that you can focus on the content. Cross Campus no longer lives on a separate site; just scroll within the new Cross Campus box on the homepage to quickly read the News’ classic and clever daily blurbs. Once relegated to a small corner of the site, the Weekend and Magazine sections have been redesigned to highlight their compelling visual content. Photographers’ pages now include a beautiful grid of the photos they’ve taken, and the new homepage design makes room for larger, more expressive photography. Nervation has been simplified—gone are the long dropdown menus and confusing labels. We think you’ll find the new easier to use and more fun to explore.

The site is a living product that will continue to evolve over the coming weeks, months, and years. We realize this is a big change, but the time has come to re-build YDN for our mobile-first age. Enjoy the update, and please send your feedback to aaron.z.lewis@yale.edu.

Alex Tenn

Morse College '16

Annie Cook

Morse College '17

Aaron Z. Lewis

Saybrook College '16

Walden Davis

Saybrook College '16

Chris Wan

Pierson College '17

History of Yale Daily News Online

The nation’s oldest college daily first began publishing on the Web in February 1995. While the constant change going on at yaledailynews.com can be a source of frustration for editors, managers and programmers alike, that’s part of what makes it fun.

The Yale Daily News Online was launched by Sascha Segan ’96, managing editor of the Board of 1996, in February, 1995. Chris Grosso ’97 and Duncan Levin ’97, managing editor and executive editor of the Board of 1997, maintained the site during the 1995-’96 school year. During the tenure of the Managing Board of 1998, the site was maintained and expanded by the first online editors of the Yale Daily News, Shawn Bayern ’99 and Akiko Fujikawa ’99. Guy Penini ’00 and Jackie Eisler ’01, online editors on the Board of 2000, and Eric Kennedy ’02, the online editor of the Board of 2001, redesigned the site and adapted it from static files to database-driven content.

Technical

The previous version of yaledailynews.com was launched on Courant News, an open source publishing platform originally pioneered by Online Directors Robert Baskin and Max Cutler, in the fall of 2009. The site and Courant News are written in Python on the Django web framework. It ran on an Apache and nginx web servers, and connects to a PostgreSQL database.

Currently, Ellington CMS hosts yaledailynews.com. We strive to support all A-Grade browsers (as determined by Yahoo), including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. Our site is CSS-based, and whenever possible, we use semantic HTML and unobtrusive Javascript to allow for the best user experience.

To the current and former managers of yaledailynews.com: We thank you for your vision and leadership. We just wish you had documented your code better.

* 1995-1996: Sascha Segan, managing editor
* 1996-1997: Chris Grosso, managing editor; Duncan Levin, executive editor
* 1997-1998: Shawn Bayern and Akiko Fujikawa, online editors
* 1998-1999: Guy Penini and Jackie Eisler, online editors
* 1999-2000: Eric Kennedy, online editor
* 2000-2001: Rebecca Carlin, online editor; David Thompson, director of online business
* 2001-2002: Francis Browne, director of online business
* 2002-2003: Reshma Champaneria, director of online business
* 2003-2004: Shelly Lin, director of online business; Michael Wong, technical director
* 2004-2005: Ajay Kishore
* 2005-2006: Ajay Kishore; Scott Peachman
* 2006-2007: Robert Baskin, online development manager; Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, online staff
* 2007-2008: Robert Baskin, online director; Steven Siegel, online editor; Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, director of online initiatives
* 2008-2009: Catherine Cheney, online editor; Michael Boyce, online staff; Max Cutler, online development manager
* 2009-2010: Martine Powers, associate managing editor for online; Max Cutler, director of online operations; Andrew Williams, director of online business
* 2010-2011: Esther Zuckerman, online editor; Shadbha Chigurupati, director of online business
* 2011-2012: Michael DiScala, lead web developer; Daniel Serna, online editor; Max Cho, director of online business
* 2012-2013: Caroline Tan, online editor; Earl Lee and Akshay Nathan, lead web developers; Yume Hoshijima, online business manager; Vincent Hu, online development manager
* 2013-2014: Cynthia Hua, online editor; Vincent Hu, Director of Technology; Soham Sankaran, Director of Technology
* 2014-2015: Marek Ramilo, Online Editor; Annie Cook, Aaron Lewis, Christopher Wan, Directors of Web Development; Alex Tenn, Lead Developer