The sites will sport a new "look and feel" as well as new functionality.
One change will be in the handling of the comments at the ends of stories. This has been a hot topic for the past year or two.
Some readers love the comments, seeing them as vigorous civic dialog that reflects the democratization of the media. Others hate them, finding them inane, boorish and toxic. They wonder why the newspaper has lowered its standards to allow them.
Several weeks ago, the News Sentinel held a community "round table" discussion of the issue, and that figured into plans for the new site.
Now visitors who dislike comments will be able to turn them off. After they make that choice, they will no longer have to see any comments on knoxnews.com and govolsxtra.com, at least as long as they log on from the same computers.
At the same time, users who enjoy comments will find it easier to respond to others and to upload photos and videos to share.
The redesign offers other opportunities for customization, too. Readers, for example, can select what type of news - business, local, sports, etc. - they would like displayed most prominently when they log on.
Overall, the new sites are bolder and easier to scan. The type is bigger, and photos are presented in a more engaging manner.
The site features "pull-down" menus that make it easier to navigate, and other subtle changes make the sites easier to use. Content, for instance, will be better grouped by subject, so related text, photographs and multimedia will be right at hand.
The Weather section will be enhanced so information is easier to access. There will be individual weather maps and forecasts, too, for towns and neighborhoods throughout the region such as Halls, Farragut, Maryville and Oak Ridge.
Videos will be presented in a richer environment where viewers can easily scan choices and arrange selections according to the most-viewed and highest-rated videos.
Photo galleries will be another area of improvement. Instead of viewing just one photo at a time, users will see thumbnail previews of entire photo galleries. Once expanded, photos will be presented in a larger, richer display than before.
The mobile version of the Web sites also will be much improved. Under our old system, users could only see text. But the new mobile editions of knoxnews.com and govolsxtra.com will feature photos and other images as well.
The redesign goes into effect Wednesday, hopefully about 2 p.m.
Stop by for a look. Naturally there will be glitches, though, so please bear with us as we sort them out.
The redesign is part of our ongoing efforts to expand and improve our online offerings.
Just last week we added another feature to knoxnews.com, a database of property appraisals by the Knox County assessor. Not surprisingly, it has proven to be very popular, attracting tens of thousands of searches in its first few days of operation.
I invite readers who are interested to spend a little time exploring the database. And, if you happen to spot any examples of serious inequities in property valuations, alert me. We'll check it out.
You can contact me at email@example.com.
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.