Independent relaunches website – the real change isn’t technical

Independent relaunch

So the Independent has relaunched its website. At first glance there’s nothing spectacularly new or innovative, but a deeper look reveals some intelligent changes – particularly on the business side of things. Here are the headlines:

  • A much more prominent place for RSS feeds, ‘Most popular’ (read/emailed/commented), videos, podcasts, blogs, (‘Just posted’ and ‘Catch up with our experts’), photo galleries, poll, etc. Which is as you’d expect.
  • Likewise, there’s the now customary ‘Digg it/Stumbleupon/Facebook/delicious’ box on every article (plus change font size/print/email).
  • ‘In the News’ navigation choice drops down to big stories of the moment. Not as striking as Sky and The Guardian, who are able to include those stories as a navigation choice in their own right. in the news
  • Editorial nous remains important as ‘Editor’s Choice’ becomes even more prominent (in comparison, ‘Most popular’ lies below the fold). The ‘Day in a page’ drop-down menu (presumably for people who missed the news that day and want to catch up) remains but drops to the bottom.
  • Open House is described as an “online debating chamber where our diverse stable of columnists and commentators come together to discuss the issues of the day – and invite you to join in.” Looks like an attempt at cloning commentisfree.
  • IndyBest micro-site brings together “The Independent’s ever-popular weekly 50 Best features and the daily 10 Best series”. Are they annoyed ShortList came up with the idea first?
  • Weather is more customisable.
  • But most noteworthy is the fact that the Independent are targeting new niche markets with new online-only sections including Art & Architecture, Fashion, Gadgets & Tech and Health & Wellbeing.
  • Also notable: Offers gets its own page and navigation button, as does Student. And just as The Guardian prepares to invest in its own coverage in the area, Environment now makes it to the Inde’s top level of navigation.
  • Finally, we see a commercial application of mapping in the Inde’s property service, and automated quotes from Xelector both integrated into editorial pages.

The final verdict? Clearly the Inde has its business head screwed on, while managing to tick all the boxes a newspaper should have been ticking last year in terms of technology. Editorially, however, it’s still trailing its broadsheet competitors in terms of making the most of the possibilities of the medium, with The Telegraph doing exciting things with databases and Flash, and The Guardian excelling on blogging and podcasting. Still, at least The Independent prints links to other sites in its newspaper, which is something its competitors have never done well.

And for the record, here’s what it looked like on January 4, before the revamp:

Independent Jan 4, 2007

7 thoughts on “Independent relaunches website – the real change isn’t technical

  1. Pingback: Media - Independent relaunches website - the real change isn’t technical / RetortaBlog

  2. Pingback: links for 2008-01-25 « David Black

  3. alex

    I think the relaunch was good, the new site well arranged and clear to me.
    Is any official stat how many visitors are the biggest english newssite?


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