The News of the World is launching a new look website next week, with more of a focus on blogs and video content.
There is a beta version of the site online now, so are the changes an improvement?
The overall look and feel of the homepage isn’t dramatically different from the previous version (shown below). Both closely match the look of the newspaper’s print version.
However, there are some differences, with the content being laid out much more clearly than on the previous version, while video content is now displayed prominently above the fold.
The page size is also slightly wider than before, while the navigation is now at the top of the page.
Below the fold, the content display has been tidied up, with bigger headlines and a clear distinction between the news, showbiz and sport sections:
As with the recent Mirror revamp, the NOTW homepage is image heavy, though it has managed to avoid being too slow to load.
The top news and sport stories are promoted well above the fold but, though the top six archive stories are displayed on the right of the page, a box showing the most popular / most commented stories would be a better way to do this.
A big improvement in terms of navigation compared to the old site. Whereas these options had previously been limited to a menu below the fold on the left side of the page, NOTW has now sensibly opted for a top navigation bar.
This is a much better option, as it is easier for users to spot, while the categories on offer now make much more sense.
It works well too; instead of displaying sub-categories via drop down menus, they are displayed statically under the main navigation bar, changing according to menu option, which is much more user-friendly.
Like some other tabloid redesigns, NOTW has now put much more emphasis on the video content on the site. The video player is displayed above the fold on the homepage and has its own section on the main menu.
At the moment, related videos are not displayed on article pages, which would be a good idea, though this may be something that will come in to being next week when the site goes live.
Within the player, users can search for video content, and it works well enough, with the footage streaming withput any technical problems, buffering etc. It could do with more viewing options though.
Users can watch either at the current, small YouTube size or in full screen. It could do with an in-between option, as full screen video tends to lose a lot of the picture quality, while the default size is too small.
The NOTW has a blogs section, which could be promoted more effectively via the homepage. There is a link to the comment section on the main navigation bar, but the individual posts and debates could be highlighted from the main page to get more people involved.
Also, no comments are allowed on news and sports stories; all user interaction has been limited to the comment section.
The paper does plan to add a new football blogs section next week though, in time for the new season, with a dedicated blog section for each Premier League club.
The new version is a big improvement on the old site; with improved navigation the content on the site is now easier to find.
The homepage does a good job of showcasing the various sections of the site without becoming too cluttered and slow to load, which is a problem with Mail Online.
Unusually for a revamp of a newspaper website, the feedback from NOTW users is mainly positive, with a few people commenting that the new site is easier to use than the old one.