Santana: Voice of OC Gets a New Look

Voice of OC has a new look.

When we launched seven years ago this coming week, we started as a bare-bones pilot project trying to see whether a local community could sustain it’s own civic news agency capable of effectively engaging local government.

We were right.

Our main goal as journalists has always been to stick to the facts and not rely on shiny objects to wow our audience. We’re also careful fiscal stewards with the funds donors give us – avoiding fancy offices, expensive logos or recurring website redesigns.

Yet it’s also important to keep up with advances in technology and continue to refine what we started seven years ago, which began on a shoestring budget and is now reaching the $500,000 mark annually.

In keeping with that idea, we’ve been working this year with Rick Ho, a Brooklyn, NY-based graphic designer with deep roots in Orange County, having worked formerly at the Orange County Register, to update our website and logo.

Rick took in a lot of feedback during the process and listened to what Voice of OC is all about. He’s a real talent and the design he came up with really captures the cutting-edge aspect of what we do as well as the timeless qualities associated with a classic community newsroom.

Our new Digital Editor Sonya Quick brought Rick to us as she continues to work on updating our website.

Sonya, who also formerly worked the OC Register and now teaches Digital Journalism at Chapman University, has been working since last fall to continually improve and update our website.

That design debuts today.

The site’s new look and features – such as moving from three columns on our front page to two – really helps aspects like load times, which is increasingly important for us given that half our traffic is now coming through mobile.

You’ll also see new fonts and colors throughout the site and our aim is to keep improving archiving and search functions. You’ll see more related stories at the bottom of news items so you can dig deeper, story-by-story, when appropriate.

As we continue to work to put ourselves on a path toward fiscal sustainability, you’ll also start to notice slots for advertisements and local newsroom events will begin to show up on the front page and article pages.

Yet while there will be some change in how news is displayed on our site, know that there’s no change in our commitment to keep you informed in a way that allows you to be relevant to your local civic life.