The NYT launches new website design with
advertorial native advertising integration
The New York Times unveiled its new website redesign with its somewhat reformatted home page, extensive article redesign, and integration of native advertising. The NYT calls it sleeker and “in a word, enhanced.”
The site is, oddly, built at 970 pixels wide – a move away from the trend to make websites wider as screen sizes of desktops and laptops were increasing. As a result of the redesign, medium rectangle ads no longer fit snuggly in the design, but float in their space.
With the launch comes native advertising. The home page features two buttons from Dell, plus an additional button that links to paid editorial content, also from Dell. Those who were expecting the NYT’s take to be something different from old fashioned advertorial will be sadly disappointed.
In fact, the use of advertorial, old fashioned buttons, and mis-sized ad slots, will take away from what is a very attractive redesign. The article pages are reminiscent of WordPress post pages with their sole ad slots on the right and the emphasis on readability. Added to that are related stories seen at the bottom of the pages.
With the redesign the NYT reaffirms that it is still a leader when it comes to editorial design, but also that it has failed miserably in the area of advertising. Unable to stem the decline in ad pages, the paper seems to have either given up or has fallen back on practices that would normally be seen in less elite media properties. Button, leaderboards and advertorial are hardly earth shatteringly new ideas. If the Times were a football team I’d be calling for the head of the offensive coordinator.
There are some other odd things I find in the new site, as well. Font choices.
In order to fit what it wants to promote at the top of the article pages, the redesign uses very small fonts. Yet the body text font used in the articles on those same pages is noticeably larger. The effect isn’t too unusual on a desktop with a large display, but on a tablet the fonts seem out of balance, with the body text enormous, and the promotional fonts too small. It is as if the designers concentrated on the new layouts and placed them in the same old shell. The NYT logo at the top of the article pages remains small when the headlines and text got enlarged.
Web design is changing rapidly as many media properties are moving to a magazine look, with larger illustrations and fewer stories above the fold. The NYT redesign takes this approach in its article pages but has left the home page somewhat the same – comfortable for readers making the adjustment.
The new features that have been added to the article pages make the redesign all worthwhile, it must be said. The way navigation pulls in from the left, the comments appearing on the right when prompted – these features will please loyal readers immensely.
I still see the NYT as the leader when it comes to web design for newspaper websites – both traditional and innovative – and any font or other design issues can be worked out over time. But the media property seems completely in the wilderness when it comes to new ideas about advertising – integrating advertising into its digital products, and experimenting with new forms of digital advertising. In short, they need a massive inclusion of new blood on the ad side of their business. Few media veterans now believe strongly in their paid circulation model which has done much to add revenue from readers, but has not stemmed the flight of advertising dollars from the business.