Newsweek.com debuted a new look today to go with the redesign of the magazine, hitting newsstands Monday. We talked with Geoff Reiss, Newsweek’s digital general manager to get the inside scoop on the new features of Newsweek.com.
Reiss stresses that the changes revealed today are “just the beginning” of Newsweek’s efforts to revamp their web presence. All of the changes completed so far involve the home page of Newsweek.com, but Reiss says “the story page is next, then the blog page is next, and the section headers are after that.”
For now, Newsweek has updated the fonts and branding on the home page so that “there’s a stronger commitment from a visual point of view to create a stronger resemblance between the magazine and Website.” Reiss also told us that the home page has been made one-third shorter because “we wanted to create a little more discipline in what was homepage worthy.” According to Reiss, the decision to go with a smaller home page came as a result of consumer feedback that showed readers were “frustrated…with superficial treatments of stuff” and would prefer a less is more approach built around more in-depth content.
Another new element on Newsweek’s home page is the “Intelligent Aggregator,” an infographic that quotes coverage of various topics from sites around the Web, even from competitors. Today’s “Intelligent Aggregator” includes a Time magazine review of “Angels and Demons” – proof that the “cold war mentality” towards competitors is thawing. The redesign also includes “Newsweekopedia” topic pages designed to improve the search engine optimization of Newsweek’s vast content archives.
Reiss says all of the changes are aimed at helping Newsweek play to its strengths. Right now, Reiss believes that, although Newsweek will have “some opportunities to provide breaking news…there’s a greater opportunity to deliver stories” with a “sense of context, completion, and real depth on a specific topic as opposed to sites that are more predicated on a business of breaking news. Reiss added that “we don’t have the budget, we don’t have the capability to break 15 stories a day and I think that’s an unwinnable proposition for most news organizations large or small.”
Newsweek is hoping their redesign results in increased traffic. Currently, Reiss says Nielsen’s estimate for the number of unique visitors to Newsweek.com bounces “between four to seven million a month.” Reiss says he’d “love to get to a point where we have eight to ten million monthly uniques” but adds, “I think I’m giving us a couple of years to get there.”
Like so many other magazines, Newsweek is dealing with falling advertising revenues. If the Website is able to draw more readers and ad dollars, it will be a big help to Newsweek and its parent, The Washington Post Company. According to Reiss, it’s been a rough year so far for ad sales, but he expects the situation to improve. He told us “the early part of the year was hand-to-hand warfare and there are more meaningful conversations happening today than there were three months ago, we’re starting to feel a thaw.” We’re sure Newsweek is hoping that the spruced up site and the new look of the magazine can help heat things up as soon as possible.