The Daily Mail launched a new beta version of its website last week and is running it alongside the current layout so users can provide feedback.
We’ve taken a look at how it shapes up….
In common with other recent newspaper redesigns, the new homepage now contains a lot more white space, giving it a much less cluttered feel than the old version.
The masthead has changed to ‘MailOnline’, and, as with the BBC’s recent revamp, a wider page format has been introduced.
The day’s top news story is given more prominence above the fold. Users can also navigate through the top news stories in pictures, which are much larger than before.
The right hand column is taken up by celebrity gossip and pictures while, just below the fold, the full day’s headlines / most read stories are displayed.
This is a common feature on news websites, though it may be better placed above the fold, as on TimesOnline. The headlines aren’t too easy to distinguish from the rest of the site though.
Elsewhere, blogs and user generated comment seems to have been given slightly more prominence than before, with links to the top blog posts of the day, and most commented articles, though users have to scroll right down to the bottom to find this.
One big problem though – the page is very slow to load and scroll through. I had thought my PC was to blame, but it seems plenty of other users of the site are experiencing this problem as well, according to the feedback.
The old version was never the fastest loading of websites, but this seems to be worse so far. Page load speed is important as users can obviously be put off by a slow site.
The Daily Mail seems to want to promote every single article on its homepage, but it would perhaps be better to lose some of the content and pictures to speed things up a bit.
The Mail has changed from the left hand navigation of the old site, to a header bar on the new site. There are fewer options too – just six – and, strangely, news isn’t one of them.
Scroll over any of the options and a preview of the top story from each is displayed in a drop-down:
This is easier to find, and much simpler to use than the previous navigation -though I think, due to the limited number of options, some users will have to do some hunting around to find what they want.
Perhaps they haven’t got round to this, but there don’t seem to be any subsections for any of the main navigation options.
For instance, if I want to find cricket news, I can select sport from the homepage, but then the only news available is a couple of articles at the bottom of the page, there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated section for any sport.
The new beta Daily Mail site is a definite improvement visually, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Reading through the feedback, it seems that a number of users are annoyed by the slow loading speed of the site, and rightly so.
On top of this, the streamline navigation is confusing, as the lack of separate sections for different sports and news types means that users have to do too much searching around for the articles they want.
The new site is still in beta, but there is a lot of work to do to match the redesigned sites for the Independent, TimesOnline and Guardian.
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