Thursday, November 19, 2009

How and Why the NT Gateway was Rebooted, Revitalized and Relaunched IV

This post continues the series on the changes at the NT Gateway (I, II, III).

The new version of the NT Gateway went live on Valentine's Day 2009. It was the result of weeks of superb work from Ryan Burns at Logos. We moved the entire site over to Logos's servers in Bellingham, WA, and away from Canary Wharf in London, England where the site had been since 2001. We kept the old, familiar domain name so that no one had to change their bookmarks, and everyone could instantly see the new site.

To the user, it did not look a great deal different. The logo was updated and there was a new silver-grey and green colour scheme to replace the old maroon and cream, but the fundamental structure remained the same, with the site map on the first page, and menus on the left of every subsequent page. This was a conscious effort to provide continuity and ease of navigation for our users. We didn't want the kind of annoyance that comes when our familiar supermarket pointlessly rearranges its produce and adding to our shopping time.

But underneath, the site was all new. Ryan used WordPress as the site's CMS and built a structure that was easy to manage and straightforward to expand. Adding new pages and new entries on those pages is really straightforward. Although unfamiliar with WordPress, it was very easy to use once Ryan had done all the hard work of porting over all the old content.

There were new features that brought site into 2009 too, with the chance to become a fan on Facebook, or to follow us on Twitter. The site was becoming more dynamic and less static. It was also more lean than it had been before, and several features were quietly retired. I decided to lose the Scholars section, a piece of the site that had made a lot of sense in the past, when it was the exception rather than the rule for a New Testament scholar to make it to the web, but had no become unwieldy.

One difficulty with the new site, though, was that so much of the old site was integrated with me and with my stuff. I located all my web materials there, homepage, blog, Case Against Q website, Aseneth website and so on. There were also external websites there, the British New Testament Society, the Library of New Testament Studies and so on. Sometimes I don't think I knew, let alone anyone else, where the NT Gateway ended and I began. Disentangling materials was not straightforward. The toughest question was my blog. I had run the NT Gateway blog alongside the NT Gateway for five years and although I often used it to discuss updates on the New Testament Gateway, more often it was my personal academic blog for discussing my research as well as other general items of interest in the field. After some to-and-fro, we decided that it would be best to create a new NT Gateway blog in connection with the revamped site and for me to take the blog archives with me to NT Blog, where they are now, and which you are reading now.

Well, that's how the change took place. But what happened next and what is the future for the site? In the next post I will explain how the NT Gateway is evolving and what there is to look forward to.

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