News aggregation site NewsNow is undergoing a redesign at the moment, with a beta version now available for use.
We caught up with NewsNow CEO Struan Bartlett to talk about the changes.
According to Bartlett:
"We wanted to expand the range and breadth of feeds to make it easier for users to see what else the site offers, with a view to building traffic for new markets."
The most obvious change to the site so far is that news headlines are now displayed in bold. The aim is to make the headlines stand out more, though Struan says that user feedback is split 50/50 on the new style. We don't think that this works so well - too much bold can be a bad thing.
The search functionality has been improved, and users can now search on multiple keywords. It seems basic, but in the past NewsNow restricted certain searches (and hid results) which made the experience less than satisfactory for non-paying users. One-word searches don't help anybody.
NewsNow's navigation has also been altered. Instead of using a drop-down menu only, different newsfeeds can be selected and related topics will be displayed on the sidebar.
This new arrangement makes it a little easier to browse through multiple newsfeeds once you have selected a topic, but does mean that there are more drop-downs to negotiate.
Bartlett says that NewsNow will be looking to attract more women onto the site:
"Premiership football news accounts for a substantial proportion of our traffic, but we would like to appeal more to female web users, something we aim to do by improving entertainment feeds."
The site claims more than one million monthly users and upwards of 60m page impressions per month. According to Bartlett, NewsNow is growing by around 40% year-on-year.
From £125 per month, companies are offered a customisable version of the site with enhanced search options. 'Hundreds' of clients are using this premium service, but what does it offer?
"Clients use our premium services to monitor competitors and keep tabs on what is happening in their particular industry."
"Unlike other services like Google News, we offer a greater flexibility, with the ability to create customised newsfeeeds, and drilling down deeper than Google News, with detailed keyword searches."
Yes, but NewsNow shouldn't be looking at Google News as its core competitor, because that just isn't the case. The real problem, for NewsNow, is the rise of RSS - feeds, aggregators and readers - and the fact that many of these services are free, and are very easy to customise. Reputation monitoring has never been so easy, nor so cheap.
In that sense, the past few years haven't been so good for the company. The problem is that while once NewsNow was an early embracer of RSS feeds, it is now looking distinctly ordinary in comparison to some of the other tools on the market (in terms of price or functionality).
The company says it will not rush the launch of the new site. Bartlett told us that it will be launched 'when it is ready', and the company has had time to look at customer feedback.