RH Reality Check Refreshed: Now with 100% More WordPress

Welcome to a refreshed RH Reality Check. We just finished migrating the site from the Drupal platform that served us for six years to WordPress. We decided to make the move for many reasons. WordPress presents a better interface and editorial tools to support our growing team of writers. The platform is used by an order of magnitude more websites than Drupal and thus supports a larger, and more affordable, ecosystem of related services, from hosting to development support. We were able to reduce the memory use per page, thus speeding up the site and making it more reliable. We had the opportunity to make some improvements to the site including a much more usable and pleasant mobile experience, a much improved search experience, a move to the Disqus comment system and the chance to remove the cruft from a six-year-old database. 

I’d like to focus here on some of the changes that will most affect you, our much appreciated community of interested, informed citizens and sexual and reproductive health and justice advocates.  

Disqus Comments

This new version of RH Reality Check makes use of the Disqus comment system. If you have already established an RH Reality Check account and have published at least one comment, you will still be able to login with your account to comment here at the site. You also have the option to login with your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Disqus account. We will not be creating any new RH Reality Check accounts for commenting only, any readers new to commenting will have to login with one of these other four accounts to comment. To reduce spam and enhance security and stability we will be creating new RH Reality Check accounts only for authors.

Disqus improves the commenting experience in several ways. While the previous system allowed some community control over comments with the comment rating tool, Disqus provides a simple up or down voting system and, by default, displays the best comments first. You can also click on the Community tab to get a list of the most active discussions and commenters. Disqus also provides real-time notification when new comments are made. You’re also able to subscribe to conversations via email and RSS at the bottom of any discussion thread.

The new RH Reality Check mobile site.

The new RH Reality Check mobile site.

Mobile Site

RH Reality Check has a growing mobile audience who will be happy to know that we now have a dedicated mobile theme making the mobile experience much more pleasant.  See all the latest posts on the front page, surf our sections and topics from the menu, even our improved search functionality is available easily from the menu. Disqus comments are very mobile friendly, too, so you can continue the conversation on the go. If you go to the site from your phone you will automatically be shown the mobile theme, but you can switch to the desktop theme at the bottom of any page.

Improved Search

We’ve leveraged the power of Amazon CloudSearch to take control of our search experience. We regularly update our dedicated search index when content is added or updated. When you submit a search to the site, CloudSearch responds with a set of results that we can present in the same way we present any listing of content along with a list of related tags and authors that we think might be just what you are looking for. Give it a shot, we think it presents a much better experience than the old Google Custom Search engine.

Cleaner Presentation

We’ve cleaned up the presentation of our content with this update. You’ll find the SECTION : PRIMARY TOPIC convention at the top of all articles throughout the site to better organize content and give you some basic context quickly.  The front page has been cleaned up. The top of articles is much less noisy, giving you just the most important information before the actual text of the article begins. The font face has been updated and we’ve eased up the font size a bit as well… and many more small yet cumulatively important updates. 

What Do You Think?

I want to hear what you think about the changes. They aren’t drastic, which is why I’m calling this a refresh, not a redesign. But I think they are improvements that will improve your experience here. Let me know in the comments what you think. If you have any questions or problems using the site, please submit a support request via our contact form instead of using the comments here.

Thanks for your support of RH Reality Check and of sexual and reproductive health and justice more broadly.

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For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1319372780 Joan Crow-Epps

    I no longer see a link to the chronological comments — has that disappeared for good? I liked it because it helped me be sure I had read all the new comments.

    • http://twitter.com/bswen Brady Swenson

      Hi Joan! Thanks for being first to use the new commenting setup. You know what? I knew you would ask me that right away and I am going to work on a solution to provide a chronological list of the comments, but looks like it will involve learning more about the Disqus API, so it will take me a little time. But, I agree that it is important.

      Meanwhile you can use the community tab to keep up on the latest discussions listed by article, as well as top commenters, which I think will be a nice tool.

      I also like that this gives live notifications of new comments, too.

      Thanks again, stay tuned.


  • Captiver

    Nice job; must have been a lot of work. As someone involved with a group (trying to keep) a repro rights site going, we’re considering a similar migration. Any tips or good go-to sites to make this easier?

    • http://twitter.com/bswen Brady Swenson

      It was certainly a lot of work. It took me and a consultant who focused on writing the database migration script using Python and SQL Alchemy about 3 months, while attending to other responsibilities as well, of course, but it was a good amount of work.

      I am going to to do a writeup about the process soon as I think it will be very helpful to both the Drupal and WordPress communities…. will come back and link it here when its written.

  • rebellious grrl

    Congrats on the refresh!

    I like the community tab. I too was disappointed there was no chronological comments list, but then clicked on the community tab and saw it there. Cool.

    The pages load a lot faster, which is a huge improvement.

    If this helps keep away the spam, I say hell yeah! I’m sooooo sick of the spam.

    It’s great to have more than the Facebook option to post a comment. Although, I’m glad I could still use my account. I really get creeped-out by Facebook. I have an unusual name and don’t want any antis tracking me down via Facebook to harass me. I do miss the old rating system. Change happens and I’ll get accustomed to this rating system.

    Overall the refresh looks good and the usability is faster and better. Once again, a huge congrats on the refresh! A job well done!

    p.s. I love the title of this post. “With a 100% more wordpress”

  • http://twitter.com/Aquilagrande Knut Holt

    To realitycheck you must look behind the curtains