Core Publisher Responsive Theme FAQs

Aug 14, 2014

These are questions asked during the FY2015 Core Publisher  webinar. We expect to continue adding to this list as more questions come up. 

General Questions

Is this Responsive Redesign phase only for certain stations?  Our station site is currently using a modular template for our homepage, not a river-style template.

The responsive redesign is for those who believe the new features are appropriate for their site. Because we began our redesign on the level of posts and aggregations (“aggs”), the homepage style as it stands today is a river-style homepage. During the plotting of our responsive redesign roadmap, our team at Digital Services and the Core Publisher Advisory Group (CPAG) agreed that rivers and aggs were a reasonable place to start since a river-style homepage is sufficient to support a live, functioning site.

We’ve just begun our work on modular homepage-style blocks for a responsive homepage template. We hope to have the first version ready in September. 

Will everyone have to use this new theme?

Yes, there will be a time when everyone must transition to the new theme. That date has not yet been determined.

Homepage Questions

Will there be an announcement block in the new theme?

There will be an announcement block for the new responsive homepage. That’s a requirement for us. 

What happens to those feature program blocks? NPR block? Northwest News Network block?

It’s coming, and it’s going to be good. Check back in a few weeks and we’ll have something to show you. 

What happens to all the stuff that’s on the right side of the page now?

Before embarking on this project we ran a study on Core Publisher home pages to see what elements on the page users engage with. You can read about that work here: Based on the results we have decided to move “Now Playing” into the persistent player and social media links to the navigation. Underwriting remains the same. 

What about TV Stations? We use the Now Playing block for schedules.

TV schedules will be incorporated into the new design of the persistent player/modular homepage. As soon as we have a mock-up, we’ll showcase it to stations.

Will there still be a place for news/staff bios?

Right now users can get to people pages by clicking on bios, on host names on programs, and then many stations display /people in their navs which displays all the people at your site. Our first iteration looks like this:

Questions about listening and the persistent player

What changes have you made to audio format streaming?

We’ve made no changes to streaming yet. We expect to use the same core technology that powers our pop up player (see for an example) for the persistent player (based on Jplayer) we are building in the Fall.

We have a BETA player. Is this that much different?

The player we are currently building in the responsive theme will be persistent, just like the one on your mobile site. As your users surf your site they will be able to listen to the stream without having to manage a pop up player. We intend to integrate on-demand audio into the persistent player as well as underwriting (pre roll and banners) via DFP, just like the beta pop up player. 


Are you planning to keep the top banner ad?

Yes, all ad sizes remain the same for now. 

Available ads:

@Desktop: 728x90, 300x250s

@Tablet: 728x90, 300x250s

@Mobile: 320x50

Will there be a way to put a pledge splash notice on responsive web and mobile during or before fundraisers?

In theory, yes on desktop—just like you would today in the current theme. That is not ad code we support, however. In our own studies, we have determined that splash pages do not lead to increased donations.

Please see:

When do the tag-based ads fit into your timeline?

Already done! This custom targeting is only available in the new responsive theme, however. Here are our initial training docs about using custom targeting in the new theme. 

Will the new custom ad targeting available in older themes as well?

Unfortunately, the new custom ad targeting is available only within the new theme. 

Tell me more about underwriting within the persistent player!

The new persistent player will support underwriting through DFP. It will include preroll for sure, and likely a leave behind. We can’t be sure about the 300x250, as it has yet to be determined. We will likely reach out to you again closer to when our actual work on the player begins: between September and October.

Do all ad banners appear “below the fold” in new layouts?

“Below the fold" is hard to determine on desktop, given the wide variation in monitor size, though the short answer is no.

The 728x90 will sit below the navigation right now, just like they do in Core Pub themes today, which should be what we traditionally call “above the fold.”

The 300x250 placement depends on the size of the site’s logo, if there is an image at the top of the post, and if there is a 728x90 on that page. 

The 300x250s are injected into the post when there is room on the right side. If you have a very large image at the top of the post, the first 300x250 will sit below that image. 

Freeing up the right side of the content for essentially only ads, however, (images can be aligned right or “inset” right too) the underwriting has much more prominence and breathing room now. It is essentially a boon for underwriters.

I’m concerned out the visual separation between ads and stories. Won’t this get confusing when the ads can look like they’re part of the story? Couldn’t we have ads be along a right rail rather than inset into the content?

We believe this editorial-facing challenge can be managed by including copy around the ad identifying it as a sponsorship.

Please see:

On mobile the ad stays exactly the same as what you have on the mobile theme today. 

Let us know if this is manageable. We definitely want to help all stations feel confident in the transition to the responsive theme. We’ve had marketing and membership people included in all our station collaboration work. 

Other Questions

What’s happening to skyboxes, ‘Alert,’ and ‘sticky strip’?

We currently have a “site-wide alert” block built into the new theme. When the site-wide alert is in the “important” mode it is red. In a regular state the font is black and the background color is white. 

Before we started this project we took a broad look at the data around what blocks users were engaging in. We determined that Skyboxes did not generate significant user traffic. People just aren’t clicking on them; we’ll have to develop alternative ways of promoting content site-wide. 

So, the category page and topic page will now function largely the same?

No. Categories are ingested into the API; topics are not. Also, topics are more fine-tuned than categories or tags. Categories are newspaper sections. Topics are more like special series. 

Would you ever ever merge topics with tags a la StateImpact?

Probably not. We have lots of concerns about making sweeping changes to sites that are live today. We basically have a number of ways to aggregate content so that stations can follow their own strategy.

Can you address how stations that are news and music will function differently online?

The music features we support today (like Music Live Events and playlists) are part of the responsive theme, so if CP met a station’s needs today, it should work for the station on the new theme. 

Can I have the URL to the story that mirrored the medium post?

Original post on Medium:

And the CP RWD version:

On photo slideshows, the left/right arrows have been eliminated and it’s less obvious that it contains a gallery of images. Is this being addressed?

This is a major focus of the usability studies we are currently running. We’ve been considering the intuitiveness of slideshow indicators, especially when the front image has a light enough background that the indicator is difficult to see. While we are unsure what the solution might be, it’s definitely on our minds and something we’re currently working on.

Is the gallery option still available?

Yes! We’ve changed very little in the gallery.

Are there tools/will there be tools for alternately embedding things on responsive? Can you tell me more about what you expect?

We are not adding any new embed tools to new responsive theme. We have made YouTube, Vimeo, and Cove embeds responsive, as they are the only embeds we handle natively. Simply drop a YouTube, Vimeo, or Cove link into the post form and we will handle the embed in a responsive manner. Outside of these, you will need to find embeds that are themselves responsive if you want then to behave responsively in the new redesign.

Questions about Backstage

  If I ask DS to put my site up on backstage, how soon can I try out the new responsive theme?

With about 20 stations using backstage right now, we are not adding any more at this time. We'll let you know when your next opportunity is. 

Does my current site coexist with the backstage site?

We’ll clone your live site to “backstage” creating a snapshot in time. We encourage you to post any sort of content on you wish on “backstage” to test the new features in ‘Responso.’ Any content you post will not appear on your live site, nor will it appear in the API.

Please note: your “backstage” site will be live on the web, so anyone with the link can access it.

How long can I have to experiment on backstage before going live?

For now, feel free to experiment as long as you like. At some point we will require everyone to transition to the new theme. We want to get as many people on the new theme as quickly as possible to expedite the redesign process and smoke out kinks in our build.

Will our backstage site eventually become our live site, or is it for testing purposes only?

The backstage site will not become your live site. What we expect is that you will change various settings on backstage and we will bring these changes over to your live site once it adopts the responsive theme. If you change any content for the responsive theme, either keep a list so you know to port it over once you’re live on the new theme or make the changes on your live site now. 

After the “switch” is thrown, will content posted under the current system become responsive (will it auto scale) or not.  If not, can we selectively modify content to become so?

Yes. When you go live with the responsive theme, all of your content will become responsive except for any embeds or HTML code you’ve added to pages that isn’t responsive. This is why we’re offering stations the opportunity to experiment with the site on the new theme. It allows you to verify how your content looks in the new environment. You’ll also likely find kinks in the new theme we’ve missed—CP is such a large web application that it’s hard for us to know precisely how everything works together, especially with thousands of people adding content in their own ways. Your participation in the early stages of the new theme will allow us to ultimately tailor a better product to fit stations’ needs.