Time magazine launched its revamped Web site today, hoping to capture a wider share of the digital news-seeking audience.
The changes range from the somewhat mundane — moving the navigation bar from the left of the page to the top of the page — to the addition of a host of new bloggers and the debut of “The Ag,” an interesting “aggregator of news from around the world,” said Guy Brighton at PFSK, “prepared in the U.K. in time for breakfast in the U.S.”
The new start for Time.com, which spent much of 2006 rolling out features such as blogs and podcasts, is part of a big overhaul at Time magazine, led by Managing Editor Richard Stengel. It coincided with the first delivery of Time on its new on-sale day of Friday.
Hoping to become more analytical, Time.com is betting heavily on the attraction of its blogs. After the site hired Ana Marie Cox and Andrew Sullivan last year, wrote Mark Walsh of MediaPost.com, “Cox will now host a new blog called ‘Swampland’ that focuses on political buzz and breaking news from Time’s political team, including columnist Joe Klein and Washington bureau chief Jay Carney. Time correspondents Scott MacLeod and Andrew [Lee] Butters will run a blog on the Middle East, while the magazine’s Susie Jakes and Bill Powell will blog on China. Former CIA operative Robert Baer will write a regular Intelligence column, and Time art critic Richard Lacayo will blog about art, architecture and photography in ‘Looking Around.’”
Time.com Editor Josh Tyrangiel told Walsh that so far some of the site’s bloggers have not posted as often as he would have liked, but from now on they’ll be expected to post at least twice a day. “For blogs to be successful, they need to be updated frequently and have strong points of view,” he said.
Blogger Bill Hobbs sees that as insufficient, sarcastically asking, “Only two posts per day?”
Some bloggers, such as Brighton (“Time’s overhaul really just gets the publisher into 2006, rather than 2007”) and Kevin Sylvia of Textonic argue that the site’s changes, while an improvement overall, still leave something to be desired.
“The avoidance of any color shift, even in the form of gradients, makes the design feel flat, bland, and overall unwelcoming,” wrote Sylvia. “On the other hand, when you finally make your way to an individual blog post a slight gradient in the masthead makes the design seem much more friendly and user-oriented.”
However, pretty colors may not be the primary focus or concern. The makeover’s architects, reported Nat Ives of AdAge.com, said their biggest hope is to provide breaking news at a consistently fast pace — enough to give people a reason to visit Time.com instead of Google News or other aggregators. The new design features a “headline stack that’s constantly updated,” said Tyrangiel, and also has “the feel of a daily news magazine, with a top-left rotating box with nice big pictures.”
For Rex Hammond, the redesign is a good start.
“I think it’s great they’re doing some new things (Ana Marie Cox’s new blog, for example),” he wrote at rexblog.com, “and placing more emphasis on the timeliness of Time.com, but ‘adding blogs’ and ‘RSS’ is not the something new. How they use them will be something big, if they follow through. From a magazine historical perspective, moving the publishing date from Monday to Friday is the headline story.”