The New York Times website redesign now has an official launch date: Jan. 8. A “very small percentage” of Times readers will be getting an early preview of the new site starting today, a spokesperson for the Times said.
The redesign will offer a “cleaner, more engaging look” with an emphasis on video content and photography, a new mobile-optimized responsive design, more social sharing options, and improved reader commenting tools (including the ability to comment at various points throughout a story). Articles on the new site will be similar to the article page prototype that the Times began rolling out last March. Eventually, the Times plans to add tools that will let users customize the website, according to Denise Warren, evp of digital products and services for the Times.
The new site will also feature the Times’ first native advertising platform. In a memo to staffers last month, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. assured that there would be “strict separation between the newsroom and the job of creating content for the new native ads,” adding that the introduction of sponsored content is necessary to “restore digital advertising revenue to growth.”
For now, the native ads will appear only on the Times’ desktop site, the Times has reported. To ensure differentiation from editorial content, the sponsored content will be labeled as “Paid Posts” and all sponsored pages will feature a blue border.
Times executive editor Jill Abramson hasn’t been the staunchest supporter of native advertising—at a Wired conference last year, she said she was worried about “leaving confusion in readers' minds about where the content comes from, and purposefully making advertising look like a news story”—and recently told the Times that while Sulzberger had successfully addressed her concerns about the addition of sponsored content, “I’ll be watching to make sure that The Times adheres to the standards.”