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CAR Online upgrade: new toys and a few gremlins

Fri, 31 Oct 2008

CAR Online is being upgraded today. Bear with us while we iron out the bugs!

By Tim Pollard

31 October 2008 09:42

Friday 09.55am.

Okay, a quick run-through the changes made to CAR Online yesterday:

• RSS feeds available for every section of the site. There are now clickable icons placed on every heading.

• See all – added to each heading. So if you want to read all Secret New Cars on the homepage, just click on the header to go to all that content.

• News ticker at the top of the home page above the main article. This will be updated hourly as a short-cut to our latest stories.

• Underneath the six main articles on the left-hand side of the homepage, there is now an extra button Show more. This drops down to show more of the latest articles – expanding to include picture stories of all our latest content. Once open, you can then click Show less to minimise the articles. (If you are using IE 6 this may not be visible, just hover the mouse over the left hand side under the articles and it will appear - we will look to fix this)

• Readers' articles will now be placed on the homepage below the video player. Make sure you start submitting your stories and we'll edit the best ones and surface them as content on our homepage and throughout the site.

• Long-term tests. Similarly, our long-termers now have a slot on the homepage, as well as their own section within Drives.

• Competitions. We've been a bit quiet on competitions of late, but we're reintroducing them with their own slot on the homepage.

• All article Comments will now show in the community page page under Hot topics and Latest posts to stimulate more debate, as well as on the original article page.

• Related articles links now appear in the left-hand column, rather than being buried at the foot of each article page underneath the users' comments.

• Most viewed/Most emailed/Highest rated now have a +/- sign so you can see more or fewer articles. This also appears in the forum Hot topics and Latest comments areas.

• Comments bubbles – we're now showing how many comments have been made on each article, guiding you to where the hottest conversations are happening.

• Section landing pages. We have tidied up the design of many of our section pages to improve the layout, but have tried not to fiddle with designs you know and understand! Hopefully, you'll find the new site easier to use thanks to a slightly cleaner design and better use of space.

We hope you like the recent changes. Click 'Add your comment' and remember to give us your feedback. CAR Online is a big beast and we're constantly evolving it and planning our next tweaks. If you're experiencing problems with the new site, don't forget to follow the tips below.

Thursday 10.30pm.

A few tips to make the upgraded website work better. You might need to reset your browser to enable some of the new functionality. Hit Control F5 (if you're on a PC) and clear your cache (if you work on a Mac), then restart your browser. I'm afraid we've run out of time to talk you through all the changes to CAR Online today, but one of us will explain all the changes (some are obvious, others more subtle) on Friday.

In the meantime, do please continue to post comments below. We need your feedback, so we know what you like and what you don't.

Thursday 1.45pm.

We're working through some of the bugs on our upgraded site. The techy types here suggest you hit Control F5 (if you're on a PC) and clear your cache (if you work on a Mac), then restart your browser to enable the new site to work properly.

We'll run you through some of the improvements a bit later this afternoon. It's not a full relaunch, just a gentle polish-up. For instance, we're making much more of our related story links which were previously hidden at the bottom of each page below the comments (see the new links to the left). And we're emphasising the number of comments made rather than just the star rating for each story – to guide you to where the conversations are happening.

A full run-through to follow.

Thursday 12.41pm.

Please bear with us while we sort out gremlins on CAR Online today. We’re adding some new features to the site and experiencing what the IT bods call ‘technical difficulties’.

Cue phonecalls to helpdesks, blood-boiling elevator music and soaring heart rates in CAR Towers. Rest assured, we’ll fix the bugs as quickly as we can…

We’ll also update you throughout the day to explain the tweaks once they go live. Thanks for bearing with us!

By Tim Pollard