An ABC of R2: S is for sitebuilding

…which was the penultimate step before a launch, after the software had been built and released, and before the technical work to finally lift the curtain.

One of the big changes that was part of R2 was how we structured our content — our information architecture. Previously each piece of content lived in a section, up to two levels deep, and a lot of content was duplicated so that it could appear in more than one section at a time. An extreme example we often used was the affair around David Kelly and the consequential Hutton inquiry. Almost every story there crossed the boundaries of politics, media and daily news.

With R2 we were introducing much more nuanced keywording and more options around navigation. So the content in the old system didn’t map directly into the new system: it all had to be examined and reclassified by hand. Additionally, production staff needed to build subject pages in ways they couldn’t before — for example, the pages on Afghanistan, the British monarchy and the BAE corruption investigations. All this was called sitebuilding.

Of course, the tech team built tools and wrote scripts to make the production staff’s job easier, but some things just need human expertise and take a very long time. Typically we allowed six weeks between the time the software was released and the relevant site was launched and that was the period in which sitebuilding took place.