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Daily Jolt makeover to go live today

The Brown Daily Jolt, an online forum for the University community, is unveiling a new look today.

The Web site's new design aims to increase participation and build community among student users, said Daily Jolt General Manager Max Woolf.

The new Jolt's centerpiece is a "flyerboard" - a bulletin board which will feature events, announcements and classified ads. Directly below the flyerboard is a forum where users can post comments.

"Right now, the events and announcements and all of that are kind of hidden in the back parts of the Jolt," Adam Cambier '09, site manager for Brown's Jolt site and a former Herald opinions columnist, said. "The way the new Jolt works out, there is a lot more opportunity to see what people around the Brown community have to say - things they're promoting, things they believe in - just all kinds of stuff."

Cambier said the new Jolt will be "a lot like eating at the Ratty minus having to eat at the Ratty." He likened the flyerboard to a table full of slips advertising events, activities and student groups. The forum is designed to emulate Ratty conversation, he said.

The Jolt released a beta version, a site that looks like the new Jolt but is still not fully functional. The new Jolt has caused complaints on the Daily Jolt blogs, Cambier said, and some users have threatened to never visit the Jolt again after its new version goes live.

"We rarely ever get positive feedback because people who are happy don't feel the need to say anything, whereas people who are unhappy feel the need to say a lot," Cambier said. "A lot of what we've heard back from people directly at Brown is that they hate the new site and that it's going to be awful," he said. But, according to Cambier, the Jolt has launched its new format at all but seven of the 200 Daily Jolt campuses nationwide, and it has been well-received thus far.

Jolt user Justine Stewart '11, who has accessed the site's beta version, said it was an improvement. "I think it's a lot easier to read," she said.

But Stewart had some complaints. "This home page is still really long. Who is going to scroll through all of that?" she said.

Cambier said he had doubts about the new Jolt initially, though he now supports the changes.

"Nobody likes change, you know. I've been working at the Jolt for two and a half years, and it's always been the same format," Cambier said. "So it's tough to readjust, but I think it will be worth it."

The new site has been a long time coming. Cambier said he first heard of impending changes to the site's design when he started working for the Jolt in 2006. But Woolf, the site's general manager, said they began making changes to the site in the fall of 2007.

The Jolt began by surveying users on all the campuses it serves and asking them what changes they would like to see. A team at the Jolt headquarters in Boston began coding for the new site, keeping in mind users' suggestions.

The site's administrators at Brown had limited influence on the new design, Cambier said. "We've helped to show them what people want out of the Jolt, and what people come to the Jolt for, but as far as direct input, we haven't had as big of a say."

Woolf said the Jolt headquarters held off on implementing the changes at Brown because Brown's Jolt has such high traffic, and they wanted everything to run smoothly when it launched.

"We're saving the best for last," he said.



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