The Wayback Machine is a terrific way of wasting time. The online archive claims to offer “a complete snapshot of all the web pages on every website since 1996”. Browsing primitive sites is a bit like watching old sitcoms: the references are puzzling, the technology dated and the decor frankly appalling. Yet it’s still oddly compelling.
Take the first recorded design of the Catholic Herald website, captured by the Wayback Machine in October 1999. It features the newspaper’s front page against a saffron background. There is a row of blue buttons, including one marked “Subscribe!” – and not much else.
When we first launched our site we had one dial-up connection for the whole office. Today our office looks more web savvy. Gone are the desks strewn with faxes, photographic prints and ashtrays. Now giant iMacs dominate our desks, towering over us as we tap out breaking news stories, tweet to Catholics around the world and post shots of Pope Francis kissing babies on Facebook.
That last sentence wouldn’t have made sense in 1999, of course. That’s a sign of how far technology has come since we first bought the CatholicHerald.co.uk web domain.
On December 5 the Catholic Herald will become a weekly magazine after 126 years as a broadsheet newspaper. News will still be a critical part of the new format. But the magazine will present the week’s news analytically, rather than focusing on breaking news. Latest news will appear on this website. Every day we will aim to bring you fast and reliable news, stirring comment and sharp analysis.
Once the Catholic Herald switches to a magazine format we will post a selection of articles from each issue every week. The new site contains a paywall for this content, but we will set it as generously as possible so that everyone can enjoy what we have to offer well into the New Year. When 2015 arrives we will start posting the vast majority of the magazine articles online, with full access available to those who take up our fantastic subscription offer.
We gave our web designers, the wonderful team at interconnect/it, a simple brief: help us to present our readers with breaking news and comment with as few distractions as possible.
The site features what’s known in web lingo as “responsive design”. That means that when you view a page on your smartphone or tablet it automatically resizes to fit your screen (if you’re viewing this on a desktop computer, you can see the effect by making your browser window progressively smaller).
Only you can judge if we’ve successfully achieved the goals of our redesign. Let us know, because we’ll be refining the site in the months to come to ensure that it serves you well.