Global Voices Gets Redesigned: Welcome Back!

Global Voices 3.0 R.I.P (click for larger image)

Global Voices 3.0 R.I.P (click for larger image)

As you may have noticed, a few things have changed here at Global Voices. Our old design, beloved as it was, has been replaced. I have been working for over a year with the Global Voices community on this massive overhaul of how our site looks and works, and we're excited to share it with you today.

For nostalgic readers the screenshot to the right shows the site as it looked just before the update.

Now truly multilingual

Global Voices is one of the most multilingual online communities in the world. Our Lingua project, where people from around the world volunteer to translate Global Voices content into different languages, has experienced astounding growth since it began 3 years ago. We now have over 30,000 translations posted in a slew of different languages, some of which you've probably never even heard of. As a developer this growth was almost difficult to believe, and presented many challenges, but when you're in the business of spreading citizen media as far and wide as possible, growth like that is an amazing problem to have.

The original Lingua sites were very simplified versions of the English website. When we first developed the system we didn't know how much it would end up being used, nor how best to integrate the translations with the English originals. Over time it became clear that the only way to show the respect and care our translation sites deserved was to integrate them more deeply with the English site. Each Lingua site needed to be an equal member of a global translation network, rather than a sub-site of an English original.
Redesign in Chinese and Arabic

Redesign in Chinese and Arabic

That bit of rhetoric has been converted into code and is now a reality. This total redesign is being launched simultaneously on all of our Lingua sites, and its features apply to all equally. To cement this commitment the English version of Global Voices is now labeled as such in its own header, just like the other Lingua sites.

The translation system itself has been completely rewritten, allowing for translations to or from the English site, as well as chained translations between multiple sites. I've also simplified the process of translating posts immensely, from a 10-step nightmare begging for human error to the 1-step process that it should have been from the start.

It's never been easier or sexier to be a Global Voices translator, if you tried it before and thought it was too hard then give it another chance now! If you're a polyglot who's never translated for fun then get in touch with the Lingua site for your language and see what all the excitement is about.

What else is new?

In many ways the site is the same as always, just prettier, clearer and easier to use. This update wasn't about adding new features so much as making the existing ones more effective and available to all the Lingua sites.

One major change is that the whole site is now fluid-width, a web-design term that means it stretches based on your window size. This feature was chosen to make our site as accessible as possible to all our visitors regardless of their hardware. Try resizing your browser to see the effect. Global Voices should look great on on huge monitors,  tiny netbooks and that awful 15″ CRT at the internet café.

We also switched search tools from a basic Google site search to an integrated search that displays results more usefully to readers.

Open Source and WordPress

The site, theme and translation system are built entirely on top of the open-source WordPress platform using lots of custom theme and plugin code, as well as various awesome plugins from the WordPress community.

While coding the redesign and new Lingua system I've also taken time to give back to the community we depend on with several patches to fix problems and fill in missing features in the core of WordPress.

I'm proud to say that Global Voices supports open-source and my contributions back to the tools that make this site possible.

We hope you like it.

It's been years in the making and our entire community has pitched in to lay out the principles and work out the details of this redesign. We hope you, our readers, think it's as much of an improvement as we do and that it helps you enjoy the stories we share even more.


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