In 2020 the Node turned 10 and, along with a virtual networking birthday party and a Development editorial, we ran a community survey for advice on what to improve and where to go next. We gathered some fantastic ideas for content that we’re going to develop soon but also heard many suggestions for things we’d done before. This made us think about how we could better promote historical Node content (going all the way back to 2010), pieces that are currently quite hard to find in the archive. We also felt that the homepage needed a refresh – it hadn’t been updated since 2015 – and identified a few more tweaks we’d like to implement, both from reader and author perspectives. These discussions happened to coincide with a necessary upgrade in our WordPress system to their Gutenberg editor, which gives a lot more freedom in terms of page design, and also changes the user experience for writing posts. And so, towards the end of 2020 we started working on giving the Node a new look: not a full on revolution, more an upgrade, which we’re happy to launch today. Here are the main features we’ve changed:
One of our first decisions was to refresh our header images. This being the Node, we tapped our greatest resource: the developmental biology community. A competition in February led to over fifty entries which we winnowed down to the final five (you can skip through by refreshing your page). Congratulations to competition winners Markus Schliffka, Rory Cooper, Evan Bardot, Gonzalo Aparicio and Daniel Castranova – you can find out more about their images in our ‘About us’ page.
We’ve also removed the static ‘Featured posts’ bar and replaced it with a moving carousel above the blog posts – we hope this better showcases the diverse range of our recent content. The new, more flexible, homepage will also allow us to better highlight other content and information – you can expect to see the homepage evolving further over the coming months.
Something we discovered in the survey was that many of you still don’t know just how easy it is to contribute to the Node – all you need to do is register for an account, and you’re then free to post without the need for our ‘official’ approval (though we are of course always happy to provide feedback to people interested in writing for us). Hopefully the new ‘welcome’ message at the top of the page reemphasising the fact that the Node is your site will encourage even more community engagement.
To help readers navigate our extensive archive of content, we are now collating blog posts on particular themes into one place – its own topic page. Here are some examples:
- A day in the life… Our series of posts detailing what it’s like to work with a particular model organism
- Behind the paper stories. We regularly commission scientists to tell us the stories behind their new publications.
- Forgotten classics. A series on unjustly neglected papers in the literature.
- How to. Helpful posts on a wide range of topics
- SciArt Profiles. Profiles of scientists who do art, or artists who dabble with science.
You’ll find links to the topics pages in the ‘Archive’ tab at the top of the page, and we’ll continue adding more pages as they become relevant – if you have an idea for a new collection, just get in touch.
The jobs page now only shows active job adverts – once a job advert expires, it goes into the archive (all job adverts posted before today can be found in the archive – if you want to see your own advert back on the jobs homepage, simply post it again). We’ll soon make job adverts filterable by categories like location and position – watch this space.
The author experience
If you’re a returning author, you’ll notice a few changes in how posts are created, as we’ve upgraded to a newer version of WordPress that uses their Gutenberg Editor. This uses a ‘block’ system – blocks can be headers, paragraphs, images, YouTube links, and more, and can be used in any order. We hope that creating a post will still be relatively self-explanatory, but we have a walk through video and a written ‘how to’ over on our FAQ page. If you have any issues, just email us.
Posting a job is now different to posting a blog post – for example, you need to include an expiry date. Just check out our FAQs for more information.
We hope you enjoy our new look and, as ever, would love to hear your ideas for where we can take your community site.