AMEinfo is the premier Middle Eastern business site, delivering news and other media to over 50,000 visitors per day. Gossamer Threads has been AME’s technical partner since 2002. We’ve developed templates, improved architecture, and upgraded their hosting platform as the site’s grown, helping the site grow and flourish to the point that it was recently sold for $27 million US. After the sale, the new site owners decided they wanted a fresh facelift for the site. Impressed with the role GT had played in AME’s success, they asked us to reinvent the site and create a new AMEinfo.
Crafting A New Design
The initial AME design was intended for a much smaller amount of content, both in breadth and depth, than AME grew to house. While this growth was an indicator of AME’s success, it also made for a cramped site design. Too much text and not enough visual organization left it difficult for users to locate the material they were looking for amidst all of the content on AME’s homepage.
The new features and sections which had been added to AME over the years required individual layouts tailored to help communicate their unique content in an ideal way. This meant creating a deeper and richer template set which would adjust to the content of individual industries (as example), better organized & streamlined experience for users. The new design lets AME’s users direct what they want to see on the site.
- Tabs and drop-down menus encourage site exploration rather than laborious scanning through reams of text.
- Data is better organized, grouping content by industry and type of content (news, press release, analysis.
- The site is designed to work at multiple resolutions, addressing the global range of AME’s userbase.
- In addition to offering standard category links, drop-downs display the latest content graphically displayed & easily accessible, meaning users can get the latest info relevant to them at a glance.
Maintaining While Rebuilding
AMEinfo has been using the same core installation of Gossamer Links as the core foundation of its site for nearly ten years. As the bedrock of the site, GLinks is flexible enough that we’ve been able to continue to patch and upgrade this install to suit AME’s changing needs.
Creating an entirely new design which would be back-compatible with over a quarter million existing articles and files is no small feat. To ensure that AMEinfo’s performance stayed smooth throughout the design process, all work was initially done on an offline mirrored dev server. With this in place, we were able to ensure that the redesign was implemented with no downtime.
Integrating Social Media
AMEinfo’s presence on the web (and initial site design) well predates the rise of social media, making social media integration one of our priorities in the redesign. In addition to customary share and tweet buttons, we implemented a header displaying which AMEinfo stories users are tweeting about (Twitter is regularly checked for mentions of AME stories using a cron job).
Live updates for any tweets mentioning AMEinfo.
Social media icons at the header for easy shareability.
Social media icons follow the content on individual article pages.
Designing for a Multi-lingual Userbase
One of the unique design challenges presented by AMEinfo is the maintenance of English and Arabic versions of the site and its content. Given that Arabic is written right to left, our designers turned to a variety of custom techniques: templates and sprites had to be mirrored, and text had to be set with the RTL CSS attribute. This made cross-browser compatibility testing crucial, as different browsers render RTL differently, and with over 200,000 AMEinfo users, providing an optimal experience for all browsers was of key importance.
Keeping Your Site Ahead of the Curve
Major overhauls of large sites like AMEinfo take time and care, but are crucial as a site’s needs and userbase expands. We’ve helped sites of all sizes keep ahead of the competition as they’ve grown. Contact us to find out how we can do the same for you.