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FCC to Launch New Website Dec. 10

The FCC says it plans to debut its redesigned website Dec. 10, with the switchover starting Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. and completed by midnight, though it also says the transition will be "almost instantaneous."

The commission switched to new servers over Labor Day weekend, a process that was somewhat less than instantaneous and for which the FCC caught some flak at a recent House oversight hearing.

While the transition may be nearly instantaneous, the site will continue to develop in a sort of IT version of a Socratic dialog. "There will be an ongoing process following this transition that will continue to involve user feedback, fixes by the FCC’s Information Technology team, and content updates by policy bureaus and offices," the FCC said,

The FCC says the redesign should mean better functionality, including search and navigation, as well as better interoperability for those accessing it via tablet and mobile browsers, increasingly the broadband access device of choice.

The FCC said that while it is expecting to have migrated all content to the new site by Dec. 10--after which the old site will not be available--there could be some pages that still need format, content or function "improvements" and says users should alert it to any "bugs" that they find.

According to a beta version the FCC put out for tire-kicking last month the new site features a mostly white background as compared to the dark background of the current site, and uses all the screen space rather than having black-to-blue-to-black gradient borders that enclose the current working space on the home page.

There is a definite emphasis on social media in the new site, with prominence given to the blogs and a column for the FCC's running Twitter feed, as well as even larger and more prominent boxes for filing complaints and public comment. Wheeler came into his post saying the FCC needed to focus on being a consumer agency, and the new site appears geared to be going for more consumer-friendly and less officious.

The site is Drupal-based, a free, open-source platform that claims over a million Web sites, from Fox to Lady Gaga, Greenpeace to the Dallas Cowboys, The White House and NBC. It is also "responsive," which means it is optimized for viewing on the mobile devices that use the wireless spectrum that the FCC is trying to free up for mobile broadband.

The FCC last redesigned the site in 2011.