Gator Undergoes Site Redesign


Gator Staff

For the first time since its launch in 2014, earlier this week, The Gator underwent a major design overhaul by migrating to SNO Sites, the nation’s largest provider of online scholastic platforms.

The move will protect The Gator’s growing reservoir of content, as come fall, the previous site would no longer have been able to sync with security updates from WordPress, which also hosted the publication.

“I’m thrilled about the new site,” said incoming Editor-in-Chief Karly Hamilton ’21. “It’s easier to navigate from the backend, and it gives us a lot more flexibility with the overall appearance.”

According to Gator Adviser David Cutler, the migration went smoothly, even as editors will need another week or two to address minor layout issues—mostly to do with sizing and links.

The design elevates The Gator from a simple blog template to a sleek modular design.

“Like with most themes, there is an expiration date,” Cutler said. “Our content was always secure, but our old theme would not have been able to update with the new version of WordPress, which powers our site. The updates, which are likely scheduled for sometime in the fall, offer enhanced security protections and various other upgrades. We simply couldn’t do without them, even though users wouldn’t notice much of a change on the front-end of things. Part of being responsible journalists is also being sure that we are running with the latest and best online software. We’ve achieved that with this site migration.”

SNO Sites hosts over 2,400 of the nation’s online high school publications, and many of the nation’s top scholastic prizes are awarded to member sites. The company, which in large part consists of former high school newspaper advisers, also uses WordPress to build its templates, while its staff maintains security and updates on the backend.

“While I am not used to the new design, I am really happy with the updated site,” outgoing Co-Editor-in-Chief Caroline Champa ’21 said. “I think that this new design will help The Gator bring home more awards and I am thankful for SNO and all of the help they have provided to make a smooth transition.”

The design elevates The Gator from a simple blog template to a sleek modular design, according to Cutler, who also added that he is impressed by the level of support and professionalism from SNO Sites.

“During the design phase, SNO Sites responded immediately to Karly and new Executive Editor Edan Zinn ’23 with any questions,” Cutler said. “It’s clear that SNO Sites take great pride in their work, and I couldn’t be happier with the move. At the same time, it’s the editors who deserve the largest amount of praise. In the midst of an epidemic, they decided to undertake this mammoth project. They worked long hours over the past few nights to get the new site up-and-running as quickly as possible. I’m in awe.”

Later this week, the site will also feature an updated logo and banner.

The School financed the cost of the redesign, about $1,000, which includes migration, training, and maintenance fees. Moving forward, SNO Sites charges around $400 a year.

“The SNO team was a great help to us while redesigning our site,” Zinn said. “I look forward to seeing how we can use the tools they’ve provided to enhance the overall quality of our work. While I know it was an expense, I think it will be worthwhile for the future of our publication.”