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Website Redesign and Newsroom Changes Come to Major Publishers

Huffington Post’s website redesign digs towards tabloid roots; The Economist slowly redesigns its site; The Boston Globe sets to reinvent its newsroom

A website redesign can have a major impact on a publication, especially if the new site incorporates subscription options or enhanced audience development strategies.

We begin today with a website redesign from Huffington Post, which features tabloid-inspired splash pages on its homepage. Nieman Lab reports, “The Huffington Post of the post-Arianna era, helmed by former New York Times editor Lydia Polgreen, is rebranding itself by the commonly used nickname HuffPost. (Not the less commonly used HuffPo.) It’s also redesigning its site to fully embrace these punny splashes across social platforms and to better accommodate the habits and desires of its readership, which Polgreen is hoping to make more loyal and engaged. “

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“Not every piece will get the quippy splash treatment, so as not to “undercut the power of that voice,” according to Beizer. Morning editorial meetings will now include discussion around which articles definitely require a splash card.”

“HuffPost is also switching to a simplified, still-green but Huffington-less logo (an outside agency helped design it). A slash through the middle is meant to evoke cutting through the noise, as well as the URL slash.”

The article also continued by sharing that the app would also get a redesign and relaunch soon.

Next, we visit the Economist, which has been slowly releasing its new website redesign over the past year. Digiday reports, “A year ago, The Economist had a new design ready to go. Rather than push it live and trumpet the new site in a press release, the publisher took a go-slow approach, showing it to just .5 percent of its visitors a year ago and steadily increasing the exposure over nine months while collecting and analyzing some 20,000 comments from readers.”

“The go-slow approach allowed The Economist to make changes. For instance, The Economist found readers wanting more content on the homepage, despite designers typical love of white space. After increasing the number of links visible to readers on site, the number of people clicking through from the homepage to another article increased by 8 percent.”

The article continues by discussing the overall goal for the site going forward. “The plan is to keep tweaking the site, speeding up load times more, and adding new features. Previously The Economist would release code changes, such as bug fixes, or feature updates, batched together on a weekly basis. That used to create workflow blockages, with valuable updates waiting in a queue. Now the team works to a continuous deployment model, updating code as and when needed.”

Finally, we look at Boston Globe, which has been reinventing its newsroom. Poynter reports, “The Boston Globe’s much-awaited plan for digital reinvention came out Monday in a 3,000-plus word memo from Editor Brian McGrory. The changes, which result from a year of rethinking what they do and how they do it, are similar in many ways to others at newsrooms across the country.”

The article continues with a list of changes that will be coming to the publication. One example is audience engagement team. “This team will be “the rigorous stewards of provocative and delightful headlines, push training opportunities to the broader room, and know the ins and outs of the major social platforms where huge readership – and revenue opportunities – await.”"

Another section involves reviving the digital storytelling team. “We have such a team already, but it’s been hammered by attrition. We need to rebuild it, fast, and in the reconstruction, we need to devote ever more of our design and graphics firepower to the digital side”

The website redesign is an important tool in the digital age, especially when it allows the publisher to attract, retain, and monetize their audience more readily and more easily. If you are contemplating  a website redesign or overhaul with the goal of increasing your audience size, online revenues and digital profits, please contact us to talk about the process. We have helped develop hundreds of publisher websites with best practices and impactful strategy behind it.

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