Help us perfect the new YFile

YFile York University's news Source poster

YFile York University's news Source posterGet ready for a new YFile.

Starting today, you are able to see this test version of a new and, we hope, much more engaging publication.

It includes a moving carousel of top stories, more highlighted events, video and photo galleries, and a series of social media features, as well as the full list of daily news stories that will remain easily accessible for several days.

We’d like your feedback, at We will continue to tweak and update the new site in coming days, and on Jan. 30, under current plans, the new site will become the new YFile. The daily e-mail sent to more than 5,000 faculty and staff will continue in a redesigned format, linking to all new stories on the site from the past 24 hours.

“I am delighted to be able to offer the York community a peek at the new YFile,” says Susan Webb, executive director of communications & public affairs. “The new YFile has a fresh, contemporary look and feel, and with the help of University Information Technology [UIT], we’ve really been able to improve the user experience.

“The new site provides enhanced opportunities to showcase York’s vitality by using multimedia to tell a story. We will be able to offer polls and users can take advantage of the embedded social media,” says Webb. “We have also worked to streamline and better organize the content.”

As part of the change, Ylife, a sister publication for York students that was started in 2005, will publish its last issue on Jan. 30. “We feel that by providing a full news site with a lively new format there is no longer a need for two publications and we hope that students will appreciate having access to the new version of YFile,” says Berton Woodward, publications director. Posts on York’s Facebook and Twitter news feeds will link to the new YFile instead of Ylife.

When YFile began in 2002, it was ahead of the curve. Only a handful of North American universities were publishing an online newsletter, rather than a print newspaper. York was also a leader in publishing daily. Over the years, YFile has won numerous awards for its content, including three gold medals, one silver and a bronze from the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education (CASE).

This spring, after publishing some 2,000 issues, we invited readers to take an online survey about YFile. More than 900 responded, which represented an 18 per cent response rate. Most readers were very positive about the publication, but 75 per cent said there was room for change. The most common suggestions were a more modern design (YFile has looked the same since 2002), a better notification of upcoming events and an improved search function.

As part of the research prior to developing the new YFile, we also sought input from smaller focus groups of community members. Participants in the groups suggested some additional changes, including a standing website where stories could remain posted for more than a day; the return of the weather forecast (it was dropped in 2005 due to technical issues); social media features; and greater use of multimedia to tell stories.

The new elements include:

  • A new masthead, which shows a bright, modern, word-based treatment of the YFile name that combines both a friendly feel and a sense of authority.
  • A Top Stories section which uses a rotating carousel of images coupled with a listing of stories down the side that gives readers easy ways to enter a story. Stories can remain posted for more than one day.
  • Sections including Current News, Research and Campus Notes that carry topical items and are linked to archived stories.
  • A series of featured events highlighting items days in advance. Readers can also access the events calendar in one click.
  • A Facebook widget showing fans of York’s news page.
  • Twitter feeds from official units of York University.
  • A gallery of recent video postings.
  • Photo galleries on recent topics.

“This has been a fabulous collaborative effort,” says Woodward. “YFile’s editor, Jenny Pitt-Clark, came up with the concept and spent many long hours researching the design and structure we wanted, and our art director, James Nixon, created a terrific masthead and advised on design. Rod Potter in UIT took the lead in implementing the WordPress template, while account director Lisa Webb kept everyone on track. We also had excellent ideas from the full Publications staff and great input from people across campus. Now we hope to hear from our readers at large.”

Remember to send us your feedback so that we can continue to refine and improve YFile. E-mail your comments to