The New York Times has been teasing its redesign for a pretty long time now. The company released a preview of it almost a year ago, all the way back in March in 2012, and the Times writers have had access to it since October. And yet, subscribers have, for the most part, been left with an out of date website that does not optimize content at all.
But finally, after all this time, it is going to be rolled out, the Times announced on Thursday. It will be available to everyone next week, on Wednesday, January 8.
The article designs will be "very similar" to the prototype that was released in March, but the home page, as all the section fronts, will "feature a fresh layout, new navigation and new fonts."
The new site will have a "cleaner, more engaging look," as well as larger photos and video which will be better integrated into the site. In addition, the Times will now have faster loading pages, better navigation and the ability to read comment and articles side by side, and a new messaging system.
To get a better idea of what this change will mean, take a look at the layouts of an article, published in December, about women in movies in 2013.
First is the way the article looks now, with the current format of the New York Times website, and below it is how the article will look when the new format is pushed out next week.
That, to me, is a major change and improvement.
The new design seems much less cluttered, and has more white space than the current format, which should be especially helpful to people accessing the site on smartphones and tablets.
The way the site laid out right now, it was hard for me to even get as much of article into my screenshot. I also could not include the top of the page, which right now only shows has links to different sections, while the new layout has links to specific articles that may of interest.
With the new site, the Times does a much better job of emulating the look and feel of other sites, while also giving people a good reason to stay on the site.
“These improvements give our newsroom the best tools to publish in all digital forms,” said Jill Abramson, the Times' executive editor, said in a statement. “With more prominent video and photography, the new features are highly immersive and enhance our readers’ ability to share and comment throughout articles."
Transition to digital
Like every other newspaper in this country for the past few years, the New York Times has been struggling as it tried to transition into the digital age, especially in terms of advertising. The site, like so many other, initially allowed users to simply get access to their content online, for free and with no limits.
In the third quarter of 2013, the Times' total revenue went up 1.8%, though total advertising revenue declined 2% year to year, the the lowest quarterly year-on-year decline in advertising that the company saw in three years.
Digital advertising for the quarter was $32.8 million, down 3.4% from $33.9 million in the third quarter of 2012., The Times said this was due to "ongoing secular trends and an increasingly complex and fragmented digital advertising marketplace."
At the same time, digital advertising revenues as a percentage of total Company advertising revenues also declined, going from 24.1% to 23.8%.
Meanwhile, the Times is increasing its digital subscriber base is growing, increasing 28% year to year to 727,000.
Of course, the New York Times is far from the only prominent news site to give itself a makeover in recent years in order to stay relevant. In fact, the Times seems to be a little late to the party.
Time.com went through a similar redesign in October of 2012, in which the pages of the site were set to automatically resize to fit all computer and mobile-device screens, as well as a new homepage, a new presentation and promotion of Time's photography, more emphasis on TIME’s voices and personalities, improved search capabilities and a new commenting system that pulls relevant conversations from Twitter and Facebook.
USA Today did its redesign in September 2012, in which it did the same for its newspaper and mobile apps at the same time. This included a new logo: a large circle in colors corresponding to to the sections, which is also an infographic that changes with the news, containing a photo or image that represents key stories of the day.
You see can see the difference below:
BBC News, meanwhile, updated all the way back in 2010, with share buttons for Twitter and Facebook better links to related stories, and a less cluttered design with more white space.
(Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org)