Hatchet’s new Web site debuts

The Hatchet launched a new version of its Web site this week, enhancing the site’s layout and design to help ease visitor navigation.

The site, at the same address, www.gwhatchet.com, will feature a more organized, user-friendly look with drop-down menus and a redesigned masthead at the top of the page. The Hatchet also plans on debuting three new Web logs, or blogs, in the next month. A separate site for Colonials basketball fans, www.gwbasketball.com, is also in the works.

“We wanted something more – a fresh, crisp feel that will be fulfilled by this new site,” said junior David Ceasar, Hatchet copy and Web editor, who was in charge of coordinating the redesign effort.

Gone from the new site is the navigation bar on the left-hand-side that Ceasar said made the former Web site look cluttered. A navigation bar at the top of the page will feature drop-down menus with links to other sections and pages in the site. The menus will only appear when users move their mouse over them, leaving more room for headlines, photos and story links.

The new site will also feature direct links to three new blogs. The Hatchet blog, written by editor in chief Michael Barnett, a senior, will discuss how The Hatchet covers controversial subjects. Hatchet sports editor Jake Sherman will write the sports blog and campus news editor Brandon Butler will take on the Student Association blog.

“We’re not operating under the illusion that thousands of people will read the blogs,” Barnett said. “But this is college, and it’s good to experiment, and we hope our musings will entertain the few people who find them interesting.”

Hatchet staff members began to develop its Web site’s redesign plans in April after deciding the main page was too busy and difficult to navigate. Barnett enlisted Hatchet special designer Kyle Stoneman and Web manager Greg Gross to create the site’s new look.

Stoneman, a junior, said he began the redesign efforts by researching the Web sites of professional news organizations and other college newspapers to look for the most effective structure.

“It is a fairly involved process,” said Stoneman, an Internet entrepreneur who along with his brother founded a Web development company called Second Reading. “When redesigning a site that has as much traffic as gwhatchet.com, you need to be cautious.” The Hatchet site receives more than 300,000 hits per month.

-Elizabeth Hall

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