Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

What we can learn from the New York Times redesign

It’s often said that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. Though most news publishers in emerging markets don’t have too much in common with the world’s leading quality online news site, there are useful design, content and navigation lessons to for everyone from the redesign of The New York Times’ website.

Since it launched on 8 January, commentators have been falling over themselves to review it. Most have been quietly impressed by the changes, though many see it as evolution, not revolution.

Easier navigation, more white space

Jeff Jarvis thinks it is “neither revolutionary nor terribly disruptive … Still, The Times does much right”. He highlights its introduction of scrolling rather than clicking through longer stories, moving between articles by ‘next’ arrows rather than through a homepage, and its accommodation and clear labelling of native advertising (see below).

Like several others, Mashable points out that the redesign leans heavily on the newspaper for its inspiration: “…the site feels more like the New York Times than”. It also notes that its “emphasis on visuals gives the site the chance to capitalize on the growth of lucrative video ads”.

Slate welcomes the injection of white space, created by folding the sidebar and toolbar for navigating among sections into a ‘hamburger’ – a pull-down menu accessed by clicking a triple-barred navigation icon. The public’s reaction to it has been, ‘Yeah, looks pretty nice’ – mainly because it’s more of a refresh than redesign.

Business Insider identifies three major changes: cutting the right rail, getting rid of the swathes of internal links that create clutter, and bundling most of its ‘newspaper section’ links to the ‘hamburger’, as noted above. This leads to a much improved reading experience.

Transparent with native advertising

Ad Age gives a cautious thumbs up to its treatment of native advertising, which runs against the current trend of dressing up sponsored content as editorial. Instead, it protects its credibility and brand through greater transparency, with its first sponsored content clearly marked with the notice: “This pagePageA document having a specific URL and comprised of a set of associated files. A…//read more  was produced by the Advertising Department of The New York Times in collaboration with Dell. The news and editorial staffs of The New York Times had no role in its preparation.” explains what marketers should know about how The New York Times now handles native ads, including that The Times’ ad department pitched story ideas to Dell. Dell approved the ideas that the paper subsequently contracted out to freelance writers.

Tech changes underlie reader experience

For a tech insight to the changes, Reed Emmons, the project’s development lead, explains that the redesign is “more than a fresh coat of paint — it’s built on a new framework and codebase to run faster while making future changes easier”.

Article by Peter Whitehead

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