This morning, The New York Times announced it will begin rolling out a prototype version of its newly designed website for employees inside the company firewall with plans to expand access to outsiders in the near future.
According to the company, "a randomly selected group of users outside the Company, who will have the option to utilize it and provide feedback, or opt out if they choose."
In the Times' released statement, the company appears to put an emphasis on advertising, mentioning the new site's "high impact" opportunities for advertisers four times in the short release; however, screenshots on the Times' preview page doesn't appear to showcase anything outside of the standard banner ad.
As for the new features, the site looks to have a cleaner, stripped-down feel, similar to certain sections of the Times' interactive "Snow Fall" feature that attracted a fair amount of attention last year. With less clutter, the Times opens up the opportunity to showcase larger images and some of the data visualization work it has successfully produced in the past.
For the site, which has one of the most widely trafficked homepages on the Internet, the redesign follows the recent trend of Web design, which foregoes complicated, cluttered presentation for a more Spartan, responsive design approach. Yesterday, Gawker Media debuted its Kinja redesign on its sports site, Deadspin, which features a very stark, clean layout.
From a navigation standpoint, the site appears to have adopted a few elements from the Times' iPad app, allowing for shortcuts to specific sections of the newspaper as well as a quick vertical layout that iPad users might find familiar.
In the new design, comments will appear next to the article so readers can follow along and read them in the context of the story—an instructive move that could boost user engagement.
The announcement caps off a 24-hour period of forward looking announcements from the Grey Lady, which also noted yesterday at SXSW that it would be one of the first third-party app integrations into Google's highly anticipated Glass hardware.
Those looking to request access to the prototype design can do so on the Times preview page.