Starting today, we are flipping the switch on our redesign. All TED.com visitors will begin to see our new site by default. The big, beautiful video player, the handy “watch later” feature and all the other exciting changes we’ve made in the past few months will become the standard. This blog post is the “tech-speak” rundown of our final beta release. For the non-geeky version, read our launch update about what’s new.
What does it mean to “flip the switch,” really? Well, previously you would have seen our redesign at new.ted.com, our temporary URL for the early beta program. Now everything — the new and the not-yet-new — will simply live at TED.com.
We’ve rebuilt a significant portion of the website in the new framework over the last few months. But as with most web development processes, not everything is all spit-polished and complete out of the gate. You may notice there are still some pages that retain the classic look. We’ll continue to build these areas throughout the rest of 2014 to get us closer to our goal of presenting all of our content as part of this new experience. Here’s a quick diagram of how the site URL structure breaks down.
Now, you may return to visit a page where the content is organized differently, and you may not recognize it as the page as you know and love. The content may look, feel and taste different due to our efforts to re-envision and streamline. Don’t worry. Click around. Explore. This is your opportunity to choose your own adventure! That said, if it’s clear that you have stumbled into the wrong neighborhood completely (for example, if you searched for how to nominate a speaker, and arrived at the TED-Ed homepage) let us know via TED.com/contact, as the system which is redirecting our URLs to display the new content may be confused. Hearing from you will help us sort it out.
Some of our users and partners avidly consume TED content through RSS feeds and API endpoints. Whether you are using this content to drive apps, your own web experience or just as the preferred format in which you enjoy TED, we have you covered. We have a separate dedicated testing effort to ensure these feeds are not disturbed during this transition. If you are experiencing interruptions tell the team at TED.com/contact and we will kick off an investigation.
If you are currently scraping TED.com to acquire and re-use our content, this is the right time to pause and revisit your approach. We suggest applying for the TED API key to ensure that your are able to access our content without any interruptions. Details on the application process — and guidelines on how our content can be shared — are available here.
In order to direct our site traffic to the new experience, we are using Varnish. This is a tool that we use to support TED.com to ensure that we are able to load our pages as quickly as possible. We use the tool to map our existing URLs and then direct users to the new site experience. If the URLs for a particular page are not mapped (because we are yet to complete them), the user continues to be directed to the classic view of the content. This is how the system knows that, when you are visiting our homepage, you should be presented with the new site experience. If you are visiting a page we are yet to complete, e.g. a TEDx event page, you remain in the classic site experience.
Epic journeys aren’t without bumps along the way. Once the site changes, there will likely be a few hiccups. We continue to count on the TED community to steer us in the right direction. If you return to a URL that you visit often or have bookmarked, and see that the Page is Not Found (affectionately known as a 404 error), reach out via TED.com/contact. We will investigate and remedy the problem.
Reimagining TED online has been a series of sprints within a longer marathon. So this milestone is especially sweet for us. Now, go! Explore. And let us know what you think.
Jai Punjabi is our newest product manager. He hasn’t been working on this project for long, but he sure is learning fast.