Tag Archives: website redesigns

The death of Cyberpresse

BEFORE: Cyberpresse.ca

AFTER: LaPresse.ca

When I heard last night about how Cyberpresse.ca was being transformed into LaPresse.ca today, I started planning a post in my head, about how the last great example of the “portal” concept from a decade ago had finally fallen, following in the footsteps of Canada.com and Canoe.ca, who for years forced its papers and other brands to be mere sections of the portal instead of having their own websites with their own domain names.

But … that doesn’t seem to be what has happened here. At least not yet. Instead, they’ve changed the name and the branding (one that has existed for more than 10 years), but not the concept, and for now anyway all the Gesca newspapers still share the same online brand.

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Montreal City Weblog redesigns (change your RSS feeds)

After threatening to do so for what seemed like forever, Kate McDonnell has changed the almost decade-old Montreal City Weblog from Blogger to WordPress, and given it a redesign:

Montreal City Weblog: http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/

The new version is a big change from the 90s-era design that has gone virtually unchanged since 2001.

One of the side-effects of the change is that the old RSS feeds have disappeared, and those (like me) who subscribed via Google Reader haven’t seen any new posts since Feb. 19. So you should pick up the new feed at http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?feed=rss2

The new site also allows her to enable comments, though for now the plan is to use it sparingly.

CFQR adds to website

925theq.com screengrab

925theq.com

Only eight months after they rebranded themselves from “Q92” to “The Q”, CFQR has opened up its website to more interesting content.

New features include:

There’s also a schedule, which has scrubbed the name of Tammy Moyer from her late-morning show. She hasn’t been fired, says Program Director Brian DePoe. Rather, she’s “taken a leave from the Q to deal with some personal life issues.”

As they await more “clarity” on the situation, the show is being hosted temporarily by Chris Reiser.

Le Devoir website redesigns … again

A month ago, Le Devoir launched a redesign of its website. It lasted only a few hours until, crippled by technical problems, it reverted back to its old design.

LeDevoir.com

LeDevoir.com

Now the newspaper has tried again, with the same design, but hopefully a more robust back end.

The look is a huge change from the previous design (you can see a gallery of previous designs at the end of this article explaining the new website). It looks a lot more professional, in both the good and bad ways. It’s slick, but it’s very busy. It has a lot of unnecessary text on homepages. Those homepages are also long:

Really long Le Devoir homepage

Really long Le Devoir homepage

Despite the visual changes, the essentials are the same. Le Devoir remains one of the few dailies in the country to restrict some content to paid subscribers. Uncoincidentally, it also features ads very prominently offering subscriptions.

Nicolas Ritoux has some details about the genesis of the new design, from this article published when they tried to launch it a month ago.

One thing I notice right off is that while they now have photo galleries, there is no way to link directly to a Garnotte cartoon (unless I link directly to the JPEG file). It’s a common problem with newspaper websites big and small.

Le Devoir turns 100 on Jan. 10.

Star redesign: I don’t hate it

After inexplicably hyping it for weeks, the Toronto Star finally unveiled its website redesign last week. I took one look at it and was unimpressed, but figured I’d return for a closer look.

Toronto Star's thestar.com

Toronto Star's thestar.com

Colour me more impressed.

I’m still not crazy about the visual design, which is filled with rounded corners, blue-grey gradients and just about every other Web 2.0 clich├ę in the books, but some of the functionality is worth noting.

One is the topic pages. News organizations have to get used to the fact that the Internet provides them with a different way to present information. Background doesn’t have to be repeated in every newspaper article to re-educate the reader. Instead, you can simply link to a previous article in a series, or better yet to a summary of the topic so far (kind of like what you’d see on a Wikipedia page). Many topics have short introductions followed by a list of articles on that topic. It’s simple, but very useful. The best part is the “hot topics” banner at the top of the page, which allows quick links to the big issues of the day.

Another is the timeline view, which translates as “everything published on this website, in reverse chronological order.” If you don’t know what you want to read, go here and just read whatever is new. There are other views like the “visual news” view, which presents stories as a series of pictures, but that’s only useful if all stories lend themselves to good pictures. Many don’t and are illustrated with boring file art instead, lessening the usefulness of this page.

Text in these boxes don't have enough ...

Text in these boxes don't have enough ...

More from teehan+lax, Torontoist and the Star itself.

Globeandmail.com redesigned, broken

The new Globe and Mail website

The new Globe and Mail website

In case you haven’t noticed already, the Globe and Mail redesigned its website this week.

The site is excessively slow right now, which I assume is only temporary, but still quite embarrassing.

As if to underscore how little has actually changed, the video introduction by Edward Greenspon (which I can’t embed here but looks like it was shot in a basement in the 80s) talks a lot about how great the website has been doing but very little about what’s actually changing, beyond the “new nav bar” (exciting!)

The old globeandmail.com

The old globeandmail.com

Among the changes from the old site:

  • URLs lose their /servlet/story/RTGAM…/BNStory/home nonsense, replaced by search-engine-friendly URLs like this one that are based on the headline. This change will probably make the most difference for traffic reaching the site.
  • After going overboard on the grey in their last layout, it’s much less prominent here in favour of black and red (making it look a bit Maclean’s-ish).
  • Speaking of colours, each major section is colour-coordinated, including a rather garish purple for Globe Life.
  • Gone is Trebuchet MS, replaced by serifed Georgia for headlines.
  • The story pages are much cleaner and less cluttered, but for some reason photos are limited to 360 pixels wide.
  • No more page showing articles that were in that day’s print edition, supposedly because they’re all found in their respective sections now and don’t need their own page.

But the most pretentious change is the name: It’s being rebranded from “globeandmail.com” to “The Globe and Mail”, because, Greenspon says, “it is the Globe and Mail and everything is integrated”. I can see the point (even if every newspaper says that and subsequently ignores it by spending 90% of its effort on the print edition’s front page), except Greenspon keeps referring to it as “globeandmail.com” and the video ends with the old brand.

Overall, I think it’s a positive change, if a bit over-hyped.

The STM’s new brand

stm.info

stm.info

For those who haven’t noticed yet, the STM has redesigned its website to bring it into the 21st century. The previous version, while functional, wasn’t very pretty and looked quite dated.

The new version fixes that, with all the current design clich├ęs:

  • Rounded corners
  • Gradients
  • The colours blue and grey
  • Flash-based Cycling series of main images
  • JavaScript-based collapsible menus
  • Helvetica and/or Arial, mostly in all caps

Fortunately, the design change is cosmetic. Most of the content is the same and even the URLs don’t change, so links aren’t broken.

The redesign fits in with the STM’s “Society in motion” brand, with a yellow and blue chevron forming a green one (it’s not clear what this represents exactly), and an increased emphasis on the environmental benefits of using public transit. The INFO STM page in Metro has also been redesigned with this new design.

They also launched Version 4 of Tous Azimuts, the trip planning application that uses the STM’s database of bus, train and metro departures. The new version is faster, easier to use and shows a map of trips, in addition to allowing smart searches of departure and arrival locations. If that’s not good enough for you, the STM also gives people the choice of using Google Transit, which has had access to departure schedules since October.

Globaltv.com redesigned

Global TV made a big announcement about its website redesign. It includes 30 “refurbished microsites” (read: branded pages for each show), an “up-to-the-minute Twitter function” (read: link to Twitter account), an “enhanced” and “dynamically updated” schedule guide (read: a schedule) and coming soon a “newly revamped search engine” (read: they’re fixing the search engine).

The new website also includes a new video player, which most Canadians still don’t know gives them access to Family Guy and House on demand. (Though it still doesn’t work properly for me.)

And it’s got lots of boxes with rounded corners, scrolling Flash menus and gradients, which we all know are required in any properly-designed site of this era.