Redesigns / Websites

Redesigns 2013: The Orion, CSU-Chico

The Orion at California State University, Chico, launched a web site redesign this week.

Mark Plenke writes:

The new site officially went live Monday but the editors are still tinkering with elements. They’re OK, though, with sharing what they have with the world. The old site was on TownNews, and the editors decided last spring to make the switch to WordPress and independent hosting (BlueHost) for a couple of reasons:
– They felt constricted by the TN Blox module system.
– They wanted the opportunity to learn how to manage the back-end of their site.
– They wanted to save some money.

Of the dozens of WordPress themes they considered, they chose one (Coverage from ColorLabs) I think plays to one of their strengths: hard news reporting.

Among the features they were looking for were some sort of breaking-news scroll, a design that would accommodate their Twitter efforts and a layout similar to Time magazine’s website (3-columns, featured photo and story up top). Nothing quite matched it, but I think the Coverage theme has a lot to recommend it:
– Lots of story refers on the landing screen (I counted nine separate references not including the Gallery scroll).
– A place high on the home page to feature photos and video, with the bonus of allowing visitors to scroll through several multimedia offerings.
– A headline hierarchy similar to tablet layouts (a big improvement over one-headline-size-fits-all home pages).
– Responsive design.
– Less ad clutter than their old design.
– A primary display area devoted to hard news.

The staff and I welcome comments, suggestions, etc.

The new site:

New OrionAnd the old Orion:

Old Orion


If your college media outlet has redesigned the website this year, send me an e-mail to scmurley -at- with any details you’d like to share. If possible, include before and after screen shots. Posts will appear in the order received, usually one a day.