Times Internet Ltd* has released a beta version of the new version of its flagship portal Indiatimes.com at beta.indiatimes.com. The redesign which appears to reduce the clutter and is more visually appealing, also appears to move towards improving discovery of content by introducing trending topics, editorial picks, opinions, as well as – from a design perspective, and much more white space and larger fonts. This is perhaps the redesign we first heard about last year in April, when Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani mentioned it at Ad:Tech. While the redesign is fairly comprehensive – there are so many changes from the previous design that it’s likely we missed some – we’ve picked out a few key changes:
– Dropdown Menu & Links To Group Properties: Three omissions caught our attention: Indiatimes.com doesn’t include any links (as far as we could tell) to its mobile business 58888, or its tech property Technoholik and to the group’s classifieds business – TimesJobs, MagicBricks and Simplymarry – or its classifieds site yolist. Indiatimes.com is a gateway to other Indiatimes and Times Group properties, and while the older version of the site had a large number of them listed in the sidebar, the new version puts some – but not all – in a dropdown menu at the top. Assuming that there’s a lower propensity to do a mouseover on an arrow next to the header, as compared to just clicking on a link, we wonder if this might lead to a decrease in outgoing traffic.
Khiani told MediaNama that links to more group properties are in the process of being integrated, and there will be a “rest of the network” header linking to more properties by the 15th of this month. However, not all properties will be linked to from the homepage, and that space will be at a premium. Some links missing from the new version, but there in the older version – Radio Mirchi, itimes polls, epaper, Platinum People, GolfingTimes, Wine Society of India, among others.
– Trending Topics, & Top News & Stream (Homepage): Good to see trending topics highlighted on the homepage, which reminds us of what FirstPost.in has done. The some of the links lead to aggregated search results for posts tagged with these tags, and and others link to search results. Interestingly, they don’t link to OneClick pages from Indiatimes, and we’re wondering if that has been integrated. Similarly, a link for top news below the six top news listed leads to an archive page for more news. Below that, a slider allows readers to view editorially selected news, most read, most commented, and a new feature called Stream, which allows for reverse chronological update of news on Indiatimes.com.
– Section pages: have the same overall layout as the Indiatimes homepage – Movies & Entertainment, Life & Style, tech, Sports. Question: Why doesn’t Indiatimes link out to Technoholik for the tech tab? Instead, it aggregates tech news from across times properties – TimesofIndia.com, EconomicTimes.com and Technoholik.
– Timestamps: All the news on Indiatimes.com has timestamps which indicate how recent the news is, rather than , reminding us of the SpeedNews experiment which the company had done a while back. That page still exists, but we couldn’t find a similar concept integrated into Indiatimes.
– Down The Middle: There appears to be a significant move to highlight opinion & Columns, with a strip down the center of the page focused on opinion stories, moving beyond news, and below that a strip which highlights that old traffic-aggregating favorite – top lists (searches, stories, hollywood releases…you name it)
– Aggregation: There is also a move to link out to external news sources, thus aggregating what most link aggregators typically do. For example, the homepage features a story from MSN, and links first to an Indiatimes page, which then links out to MSN. All this for SEO?
– Reactions: Below the post, Indiatimes stories have rather graphic like/dislike buttons, and user ratings, and we noticed that the sidebar has an ‘in case you missed it’ section, with similar labels. It would be interesting if Indiatimes were to also surface top stories on the basis of the reactions. For example, the top WTF or OMG stories, as rated by users.
– Topic Pages: Check the topic page for Don 2, and you’ll see that it also features quotes from other sources, links to external reviews, and even select tweets, which can be browsed.
– Search Pages: Some the trending tags lead to search results. Search results allow narrowing down of content by date (today, Past 7 days, Past 30 days), and by several random parameters. See this and this.
– Related Content: On the story pages, for example, this page, related content is surfaced on the side, along the length of the news story, and below the story as well. The content appears to be the same in both cases. Below that, there’s another list of stories, from the Indiatimes network. All these links are heavy on visuals, with thumbnails for each story, which makes us wonder whether they would load slowly on slower connections.
– RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook: appear to be missing, as well as links to the twitter page or Facebook pages and applications.
Visually, far more appealing that the previous design. It’s much easier to discover news in this version, and the emphasis appears to be more on news than perhaps video and photos galleries than the previous version. Fewer choices on the first scroll and larger fonts allow readers to discover content more easily to reading, as opposed to the previous interface, where too much was being squeezed in. We particularly like the stream concept, and think that it could be shifted up, similar to the Facebook activity feed, in order to indicate the latest news to readers. The stream should perhaps be integrated across content to aid in discovery of the latest news. Also, we couldn’t notice any links to RSS feeds for subscription, or for twitter and facebook pages for Indiatimes.
Note: since the site is in test mode, is it possible that we saw one version of Indiatimes, since A/B testing could have been in progress
Disclosure: Times Internet Ltd is an advertiser with MediaNama