Touting Redesign, MSNBC Declares Pageviews ‘Dead’

18 Comments

The big idea behind just about every website redesign these days generally revolves around “less is more” minimalism. But it looks like MSNBC.com’s redo actually means it: the new site, which just went fully live, promises to do an end with clicking on stories and on ads. By introducing a single-page-only format, the company hopes to sell large, customizable ads to marketers as it tries to build a larger audience.

It is also promising to swear off reduce the use “standalone” slideshows, something that has become a staple of many news sites to drive pageview counts as a way of measuring audience usage and engagement to advertisers — instead relying mostly on slideshows that are “integrated,” though the difference was a bit unclear (update: Commenter Jason Lotito correctly points out that integrated slideshows “are part of the page, and don’t require you clicking to the next page.”). As a rep for the cable net told us,”Msnbc.com is in the business of selling advertiser experiences, not ad units.”

The site hasn’t completely abandoned clicking, of course. There’s a “social toolbar” for posting stories to Twitter or Facebook as well as e-mail. There are also options like the “Zoom Out” feature, which lets users set up a customizable news trends list in the dashboard view at the bottom of each page.

The other usual terms in web redesigns are often the use of bigger display ads and bigger video. The new MSNBC.com has both of those too. The video player also boasts easier search functions and, much like Reuters’ subscription-only VOD product, the videos will also come with transcripts.

The revisions follow MSNBC.com’s attempts to take advantage of social media with the addition of the @BreakingNews Twitter feed.

An early glance at the site shows that it certainly is different from previous site overhauls. But whether it’s enough to make a difference with advertisers will take some time.

18 Comments

Guest

According to Alexa, msnbc.com’s reach is down 24% over the past month.

Not a typo: -24%!

MK

If they’re looking to kill off page views, this should about do it.

Alan

That’s a remarkably bad design. User experience fundamentals are simply not in evidence. In a few ways, it’s a case study in precisely what not to do.

Al

I work for a newspaper that also is trying to revamp its online presence. Discussions, experts, advisers … new ads, multimedia, community blogs … and yet no one has had the brains to suggest that we improve our news gathering, reporting or anything to to do with the *words* on the screen.

Surfers won’t go to a website simply to look at it. There has to be something there they want to read. Somehow, the “experts” keep missing that point.

gleapman

Add this reader to the “it’s a mess” camp. And the wide spacing of the news copy along with the permanent bar along the bottom means more scrolling. (Less clicking?? What’s with the ‘Show More Text” tab. Just show me the damn article.) With notebook computer displays now using HD ratios, meaning they are wider and shorter, it’s even more important to make the most of vertical space. MSNBC.com has done just the opposite. Paying for the NYTimes.com is now looking a bunch more attractive.

patricia

If MSNBC understood the internet, it would have declared the page view dead five years ago like the rest of us. Notice how nothing points to developing and maintaining a real audience.

Media 2.0’s giant fail is directly tied to the fact that it focuses on advertisers versus readers of its content.

Kara

There are elements of the redesign that I think work well, and others that I think don’t. But overall, I’m glad to see major media outlets break their addiction to page views and pop up slideshows.

Katy Kelley

Sacrificing a clean user-experience in hopes of swaying the (historically slow moving) advertising model is incredibly risky. I agree with David in that “early glance at the site shows that it certainly is different from previous site overhauls. But whether it’s enough to make a difference with advertisers will take some time”. Different, yes…but I don’t believe the step is a positive one.

scott

yikes! did you see that massive ad that folds down, breaks your browser and prevents you from seeing any content? they still don’t seem to ‘get it’

Kevin

As David said it’s very cluttered, stuff is all over the place, i don’t know where to look.

It’s really really slow too. I know my PC isn’t the best but wow, what a mess. Probably all that stuff moving around. And how do you get places? I can’t find a menu except for that thing at the bottom.

Ed

SEO is worst than pageviews, it is junk science with no merit. I love how SEO run away fast when confronted with this fact, especially when I have to remind them the FTC does not take kindly businesses making false promises and claims to their customers.

In fact, I thought the new buzzword was “SEM” nowadays….

Sean

Actually Tom, the SEO is better than most other news sites I’ve seen. The URLs are not a mess – they are static and most have identifying keywords in them except for the news story pages, which have a unique ID number instead of story title keywords, which is OK because they insert the news story title in the meta title and the page’s h1 tag.

Tom Wilde

They’ve also destroyed the SEO value of the site. The URL’s are a mess, especially with video. They have returned to the old style of flash based video experiences, which are invisible to crawlers.

David

Looks like AltaVista or Yahoo 1999. Cluttered, cluttered, cluttered. Text everywhere, images everywhere, things moving everywhere. I have no idea where to start looking for anything on that page.

Jason Lotito

“instead the only slideshows on the site are ones that are “integrated,” though the difference was a bit unclear.”

Slideshows that are part of the page, and don’t require you clicking to the next page. Basically, it just shows you one image at a time, and then you click a button, and it changes the image, but keeps you on the same page.

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