Following close on the heels of CNN’s Web site overhaul, Reuters has completely revamped its home page. The new effort is startlingly spartan in its minimalism–and it’s absolutely designed to appeal to a broad consumer audience. Reuters is chasing extra cash.
Why did Reuters re-invent itself quite so dramatically? For one its old Web site was looking more and more jaded, with too much clutter, articles buried in small fonts amid adverts and embedded pictures. Secondly, the old site placed not enough emphasis on drawing attention to new stories. Compared to other online news portals, it was impenetrable and unattractive to the average Net surfer. And as advances in Net technology gradually erode Reuter’s business model, it’s looking to John Q. Public.
Hence the reinvention, “a year in the making” according to Reuter’s editor in chief David Schlesinger. The make-over was crafted in consultation with the site’s audience in “extensive discussions” and the upshot was a design that is “faster and easier to use, whether you want a quick glance at the top headlines or a longer deep dive into a topic that’s important to you.” That’s an unashamed admission that the new-look site is trying to appeal to both news professionals and the public.
Of course the look and feel will appeal to advertisers too–with any luck, from Reuter’s point of view, they’ll be increasingly attracted to place Web ads in a modern-looking site that appeals to the public more. It’s all about the money, of course. And it’s just about plausible to argue one final thing: With its super-clean looks, enhanced navigability and lots of paper magazine-esque white space, is the new site almost ripe for casual surfing on a tablet PC?