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After one month as Chalkbeat, a few more website tweaks on the way

Happy one month anniversary to being a Chalkbeat New York reader!

It was a month ago today that we relaunched with a new name and a new look. Since then, we’ve focused on our core mission: reporting and publishing thorough education journalism about New York City’s schools.

But we’ve also been paying close attention to the emails, phone calls, and conversations we’ve had about our new site. We’ve gotten rave reviews, fierce criticism, and lots of questions about the decisions we made.

Now, we want to explain some more of those decisions, preview a few changes, and ask for additional feedback that we can use in the coming months as we make adjustments.

The critique we’ve heard most often is that Rise & Shine is less accessible. Our goal in overhauling the look of Rise & Shine was to address criticism that the bullet-point list we used to publish was hard to read, so we expanded the font size and added subject headers to orient readers. But we agree that now it takes too long to get through something that should be a quick read at the beginning of the day. So starting next week, the font size on Rise & Shine will be smaller and it will take you less time to scroll through each morning.

We’ve also heard from readers who miss our Remainders feature, where we collected interesting links about education every day. As we noted when we launched, we wanted to feature links on an ongoing basis instead of once a day, so we built the What We’re Reading — and that’s working great for our other bureaus. But in New York City, it just doesn’t accommodate the volume of content that’s worth highlighting. So in the near future, we will start experimenting with ways to bring links roundups back to Chalkbeat New York. Stay tuned.

The third big bucket of questions we’ve gotten has been about reader comments. Some readers have questioned why our new homepage doesn’t display recent comments, and others have noted that it’s impossible to see from the homepage whether a story has comments. We value reader comments, but we had to make choices in our redesign, and those were some of the things that got left out. (We tried to compensate by showing how many comments a story has at the top of each article; clicking the speech bubble there will zoom you down to the comments section.) How do you think our comments section can be more accessible?

We’re going to continue to improve our website over time, and we’re happy to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment or contact us with your ideas.

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