Website Redesign Now Live And A Few Notable Team Changes

If you’re reading this, something is different. Yes – a lot is different – from visual changes to a ton of fixes, improvements, enhancements, additions, behind-the-scenes, let’s get to all the changes right now!

Website Redesign

Right off the bat, you’ll see the website looks very new, more compact, not as stretchy. That’s right! This has been about 5 months’ worth of work with a theme called GeneratePress and a Page Builder called Elementor. This retires our old theme named Newsup, and our old Page Builder named Themify.

  • All Pages – including the Home Page – have been redesigned to be more compact, and to be more “visual”. This is why things like pretty clouds will appear on each page/section. Admit it, it’s pretty.
  • QR codes have been added to multiple pages so you can open links on your mobile device.
  • Page issues have been fixed. Including but not limited to the Severe Page not showing a severe image and the NOAA Weather Radio Page not showing NOAA Weather Radio Transmitters have been fixed. The Severe Page now shows an image from NWS – this is a permanent fix! I sincerely apologize to those of you that may have been following links from Twitter in hopes of an image.
  • You seen that NOAA Weather Radio Page? It’s remarkable if I do say so myself.
  • How about that new Live Page?
  • The Contact Page now has more content. Contact information was moved from our Live Page to our Contact Page because it just makes more sense. A few visual tweaks have also been made to this page.
  • Visual improvements made to the About Page, including showing more accurate information about our Team Members, and showing the roles/positions.
  • Visual improvements to the Application Page, the Requirements section is collapsable, and the Expectations are more straightforward.
  • Blog Page shows posts by category in a carousel. Keep in mind. Posts from 2020 have been archived, so many things might not be showing up here.

Why the change? Why Elementor and GeneratePress?

We’ll get to that later.

Facebook Messenger Widget Throughout Website

We have added this widget so you can interact with us directly on Messenger. A Messenger account is recommended but you can also continue as a guest. Interacting as a guest only makes the chat visible for 24 hours. Otherwise, start a conversation with us right from Messenger, our automated assistant will let you know we will get back to you shortly, then you will hear from an actual human being!

Alabama Weather Prediction is now on Telegram

As part of our goal to expand to more chat/media platforms, we are now also on Telegram. Telegram is a free universal application (iOS, Windows, Android) for chatting, voice and video. Also available on the web. Very simple to get started, just go to Telegram: Contact @awpwx, or go to the Contact Page and click Telegram. Registration is required for this.

Telegram currently shows posts as soon as they’re made, but no other automations at this time.

Behind-the-scenes

Now for the non-important stuff that most of you probably aren’t going to read – and that’s okay.

  • PHP has been updated to 8.0. No issues have been identified over the past several months.
  • Cache has been disabled site-wide. Again, this was tested over several months and we have actually seen an improvement in loading times with our new themes and builder

Why the change?

So, the old theme we had, Newsup, was not nearly as customizable. It was also very stretched out and seemed to take up your whole screen. It also wasn’t responsive to any changes that we attempted to apply. We were also looking for a new Page Builder and found that Elementor works great with GeneratePress. GeneratePress is also very lightweight, so Elementor does not need to do much work as far as caching is concerned. To put matters simple, I combined these together to come up with the solution of a) fixing any website issues b) implementing the new website layout and c) deciding if cache needed to be modified, tweaked, or disabled altogether. I’m not gonna lie, cache is a big headache and probably more trouble than what it’s worth, which is why I decided to disable it to see what happened. Well, this was the end result.

Tech talk. Look at this loading speed difference I snapshotted. Left side is Staging website, right side is old, Live website. It loads faster when cache is off site-wide!


Team Changes

There are some changes to our Coverage Area that are worth mentioning.

Alabama Weather Prediction Coverage Area

First off, and most importantly, we are dropping support for Mississippi and Tennessee Counties to focus solely on Alabama.

Next, you’ll see we are starting to implement “Zones”. We will start using this kind of language when we cover severe weather events with things such as

Storms will be moving into Coverage Zone 1 here in the next several hours and we will bring you live updates

A Slight Risk is in place for most of Coverage Zone 1, 2, 3, etc

Instead of

Storms are moving across the Coverage Area

Slight Risk in place for this day for portions of the Coverage Area

See, this is just too bland? Let’s be more specific and narrow it down.

In coordination with @westaltracker who is in charge of alerts_awpwx on Twitter, you should start to see more of this language in the coming weeks.

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