Welcome To The New AOL

New AOL.com

Last night, Tim Armstrong and team celebrated independence from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with P. Diddy and this morning they’ll make it official by ringing the bell in the same location. AOL (NYSE: AOL) is back as a ticker symbol and from here out, the excuses are gone for both companies. Gone, too, is the look of the old AOL — at least, some of it. While Armstrong and some others ended a long day with a group dinner, AOL Media President Bill Wilson went back to the office to work with his team on the transformation of AOL.com into a brighter, fresher space complete with the new branding campaign Armstrong previewed for us last month. (Slide show.)

The symbols, like the goldfish we’ve been featuring, are cues for themes (the favors for last night’s party were t-shirts with one of the new icons but no goldfish). Pick the vivid blue butterfly from the scroll bar across the top of the new front page and the nav bar text color and other elements change to match. Pick the goldfish, and the text changes to a different blue (the gold would be too hard to read) but the “purple paint” theme turns the nav text and other elements purple. I’m still not sure about the branding campaign itself but the isolated images and animation snippets we saw last month make more sense as themes and personalization choices and the look signifies a clear change.

That may be the most obvious change at first but the new look also comes with new content. Wilson tells me they’ve added original AOL video on AOL.com for the first time, with updates every few hours, and more original stories starting early this morning. More changes are coming over the next 10 days. Other sites in the AOL network are also getting “updated experiences,” according to Wilson, “including greater AOL attribution presence and consistency.”

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