It’s modern and it’s fast and it’s complicated, and like a lot of things about this newspaper, it’s way better than it ought to be.

Though we’ve been working on it for six months, Triad City Beat’s new website launched with no fanfare this week, and that’s how we wanted it. For one, we like surprises. For another, we’ve seen way too many media outlets overpromise and underdeliver on their “new” web properties. Usually it’s a lot of noise about nothing at all.

In February 2014, the Triad City Beat site began as nothing: a simple WordPress site with a logo and some basic customization. We didn’t even have a home page, because we had no content to post, so our first articles came in a thread, with very few photos. In spring 2016 we entered the digital big-time: We bought a theme with a homepage and a bunch of other bells and whistles. In the short time we’ve used it, this theme has undergone 10 incarnations and no longer even operates the same way it did when we installed it. With all the legacy code, plus all the plug-ins we installed, the programmatic ads running through it, the custom code we’ve dropped all throughout, our site had come to resemble a barn built over a half-century, one room at a time. 

In spring 2020 we got a Google grant to build a new site — or, at least, bring the old one up to standards. The first three developers we hired to do this job ghosted us. Because generally speaking, web designers are even bigger flakes than musicians.

And then Sam LeBlanc came along.

He didn’t really just “come along” — he’s married to Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka, and he’s a top-tier WordPress developer. Also: Not a flake.

We won’t tell you what we paid Sam to make this site, but we will tell you that work of this caliber would normally call for a team of programmers and a five-figure cost.

It’s a custom job, built from scratch, elegant and clean, bereft of extraneous code. The images look better. The stories look better, and it’s fast AF.

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