Newsvine Relaunches… Announcing Evergreen

Kelvin: One of the many subtle joys of the new Newsvine.

Call it a redesign. Call it Newsvine 2.0. Call it whatever you want, but today Newsvine is proud to announce the first major overhaul of our site since launching a little more than a year ago. It’s an exciting thing for the team and for the now 600,000 people who visit the site every month because it not only provides a hugely enhanced front page but also showcases a lot of the great technology we’ve been building behind the scenes over the last several months.

Newsvine Evergreen begins today with the relaunch of the front page but is part of a much bigger effort to spread the vine outside the walls of our own domain and into all corners of the internet and blogosphere; the goal being to bring the news to wherever it naturally wants to go.

So what’s new so far?

Modules!

The most common request we get on Newsvine is that people want to emphasize or de-emphasize certain parts of the front page. We have our own ideas for what the front page of a news site should look like and you have yours. Most major news sites attempt to solve this problem by maintaining their editorially imposed front page and then offering a “My” page which users can play around with and customize. The result of this strategy is almost always two-fold: 1) Barely anyone customizes. 2) Even among those who customize, there is hesitancy among users to give up their daily reading of the front page in favor of the “My” page. This is evident from sites like ESPN and Yahoo News, both of which have feature-rich “My” pages but do a ton more traffic on their front pages.

So the question for us became, how do we provide a front page that contains the ideals of a major news site but still allows for complete customization? The answer: modularization. The new Newsvine front page begins as we think many users would like it: big top story, most popular seeds up top, most active stories prominently placed, and so on down the list. But as you go down each column, you’ll notice tons of new things which you may like better than the things at the tops of the pages. If you do, just start draggin’ stuff around until you’re happy. Feel free also to close modules you don’t use or add new ones that aren’t in the default set.

Local Headlines and Weather

Another frequent request we’ve gotten over the past year is to beef up localized content around the Vine. Since weather is a staple of any local news diet, we’re now automatically detecting your general location based on IP address and serving you up a 5-day forecast right on the front page, courtesy of Weather Underground. We are also now the only major news site that gives you the option to display your temperature in Kelvin.

Did you hear that? We said Kelvin! So now when it’s freezing outside, you can switch over to Kelvin and bask in the illusion that it’s a balmy 270!

We’ve also gone through and collected the local news RSS feeds from hundreds of newspaper sites around the country so we can automatically show you your local news in a module alongside the rest of your content.

Newsvine Live

Our live feed of all actions occurring within Newsvine now takes a seat at the grownups’ table with this redesign. Newsvine Live is a great way to discover new content before it gets popular, and it’s an easy way to get yourself some exposure as well.

The News in Pictures

Sometimes you’re not in the mood to read articles and would rather get a visual tour of what’s newsworthy on any given day. The News in Pictures is a continuously updated slideshow — with captions — of all the latest content coming in from the AP. Sure you’ll see the occasional unflattering mug shot of an escaped convict, but we’re actually quite surprised and pleased with the general quality of the photos that roll through this module on a daily basis. We have other plans for this module which include accepting user submissions, but for now, enjoy the first incarnation.

Newsvis

Newsvis is a visualization tool we’ve developed to help you easily identify how much of Newsvine you’re really covering. So much news flows through this place that often something extremely voteworthy or commentworthy can be missed entirely by casual users. Newsvis shows you a colorful map of all the latest popular stories and clues you into which ones you may have missed.

External RSS Feeds

Let’s say the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Techcrunch, and every other source linked to or hosted on Newsvine just isn’t enough for you. Let’s say you live in the tiny village of Podoliantsi, and the Podoliantsi Post-Intelligencer is the only news source covering your neighborhood. As long as they have an RSS feed, you can now add it to your Newsvine front page… along with any blog you’re interested in, any Twitter RSS feed, or any Del.icio.us linkroll.

Newsvine Group Showcase

Since introducing Newsvine Groups a few months ago, we’ve watched as people have self-organized into hundreds of social circles around interests, locations, and political ideologies. Groups has never had any marketing behind it or more than a small item in the navbar, but even in this semi-stealth state, it’s shown its popularity. With the launch of the new front page, however, Groups gets its own module to showcase a weighted random assortment some of the more active organizations around the Vine. The ultimate goal of Newsvine Groups is to take the pool of hundreds of thousands of people who visit Newsvine and create a vast array of smaller populations, with more meaningful personal ties between members.

Top Seeds from Source

Some of the best content on Newsvine comes from the New York Times, The BBC, The Washington Post, and ESPN, but up until now, there’s been no easy way to see it all grouped by source. We’ve started you out with a New York Times module by default so now you can see the latest New York Times seeds all in one place. Prefer Fish ‘N Chips to Pastrami On Rye? No problem… switching to the BBC is one click away.

Super Widescreen

With all of this new content, you can imagine that screen real estate could get a bit tight. For this reason, we’ve enabled users with gigantic monitors to expand their layout to four columns and a whopping 1300 pixels of width. If you’re so inclined, just click the little green button on the right side of the screen and spread out like a polar bear. Hint: We think the coolest two modules to push over there are weather and Newsvine Live. Give it a shot.

So What’s Next?

We can’t say right now, but it’s election-related and you can look for it in a few weeks. We hope you enjoy the new and emerging Newsvine, and if you’re already a member, we thank you so much for your patronage!

23 comments on “Newsvine Relaunches… Announcing Evergreen”. Leave your own?
  1. Sean S says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! This is exactly what Newsvine needed! Very nice job, Mike (and team).

  2. DamianKD says:

    Man, you guys are quick.

    I just refreshed NV, saw the new design, then saw the release article.
    Just a minute ago, Google Reader updated and showed this.

    Isn’t technology great? :)

    Love the new NV, BTW.
    D

  3. firsty says:

    nice! very, very nice. and sweet etc.

  4. Brian says:

    All I can say is WOW! Didn’t see that coming. Great work.

  5. Dan A says:

    The difference is quite stunning, very nice upgrade with tons of value to Newsviners.

    I am noticing a significant strain on the server, I had the images not loading in the ‘news in pictures’ module, and article requests timing out.

  6. Aric says:

    Very nice Mike. Congrat’s to you and your team.

  7. Adam says:

    Looks like MSNBC has been busy too.
    Glad to see that Newsvine is shaking things up.

    So can I apply for an internship?
    I’ll work for peanuts and beer.

  8. Adam Hobson says:

    Figures, the day I am traveling and away from the Internet is the day newsvine gets a makeover.

    Anyway, great job!

  9. Congrats on a fine job, Mike!

  10. Dave Metcalf says:

    The new design looks great! I am already finding it more readable for the way I like to check out news, especially the expanded layout.
    And the Kelvin idea is hilarious!

  11. gb says:

    The weather module thinks I’m in Seattle… I’m going to take that as a sign that I need to get my ass up there.

    I need to re-introduce regular newsvining into my life (kind of slacked off after it nearly got me fired last year) and this is a good catalyst.

  12. Rex says:

    Okay, I’ve got an actual question (and Mike, you might be more qualified than anyone to answer this)….

    Why are these two statements true? 1) When a mainstream media website redesigns, it is unequivocally despised by its audience. [Always.] 2) When a social media website redesigns, it is adored by its audience. [Almost always.]

    Someone might try to say “because all media websites suck” and/or “because all social media websites are awesome,” but I don’t think we can possibly believe that’s true.

    Is this because the audiences are different? The expectations? The difficulty? The organization? The goals?

    (I ask this as someone who has designed both successful social media sites and very large mainstream media sites. And witnessed this phenomena over and over.)

  13. As the owner of a wide monitor, I really dig the four column presentation. Newsvine LIVE looks AWESOME scrolling away on the right side.

  14. Mike D. says:

    That is a great question, Rex. Probably worthy of turning into a post. Here are my initial bullets (and I totally agree with you) —

    1. The audiences of many mainstream media sites are there almost automatically and not so much out of choice. A lot of people who go to ESPN.com go there because they watch ESPN TV. A lot of people go to MSN because their browser hardcoded it as their start page. Visitors to social media sites are there because they’ve expressly decided to be there. They already like it a lot.

    2. Sites run by smaller companies may be more in touch with their audiences than sites run by larger companies. I’m the CEO of Newsvine and every time someone does so much as report a spacing bug on our site, I know about it automatically, via automated email. When all of these user emails seep into your collective unconscious over the course of months, you already know your marching orders come redesign time.

    3. Bigger companies often *can’t* do all they want to do with their sites for political, technological, and other reasons. They are launching with the knowledge internally that only it weren’t for legacy systems, they would be free to do a lot more.

    4. Users of social media sites are just a lot more tolerant to change… that’s why they are there in the first place.

    On the bright side, I can say that at least during my time at ESPN, the bad feelings from users usually subsided after a few weeks after users got comfortable and realized all that had been improved. That said, I am pleasantly surprised and shocked that seemingly 99% of the comments on our announcement thread are quite positive so far.

  15. Denise says:

    No matter what you end up calling it, it still looks fantastic.

  16. Sarah says:

    Wow, congratulations, this is a fabulous accomplishment. The new design really tells a clearer and more complete story about what Newsvine is and how it can be used. The Newsvine LIVE module is my favorite feature. The animation on the bump is a nice touch. I love this. It kinda makes me want to start reading news again.

  17. Don says:

    I think most major media visitors go for one specific reason … not just to spend some time. Exactly the opposite is true for social sites. So if I just want one thing and you move it … well, it’s frustrating. If I was going to hang out a while, no big deal if I have to test out a few other things on the way to what I wanted. That is my take. Great question and is worthy of a post Mike.

  18. Mike – I too would like to know more about your design and development process, especially as as far as usability is concerned.

    As far as the new design is concerned, did you already have a pretty clear idea of what you wanted to do, based on months of user feedback?

    How did you go about testing the changes? Did you do much lo-fi prototyping? I’d love to know more about how you go about making significant changes to such a big site.

  19. Jason says:

    How did “Zoo” make the top seed? Aye – I didn’t need to read THAT! The modules are pretty sweet though.

  20. Dave says:

    Very nice Mike, good job on the new model although you really need some more non american options! :p

  21. George says:

    Your homepage went from what I perceive as very content-focused to “widget”-focused. The content’s become harder to read because there’s a mixture of lots of different contexts on the same page (wire, weather, pictures, color scales), instead of filters on wire content and user generated content down to the stuff I care about.

    Sure, users can customize their page to get down to the subset that they care about. But I don’t feel I should have to do that to get to the stuff I care about.

    Are you guys trying to drag-race the new features and see what people do & don’t use, and trim/add as appropriate?

    I don’t want newsvine.com’s home to be another Live/iGoogle/My Yahoo/My MSN…

  22. Mike D. says:

    George: There’s nothing that was there before that isn’t still there. It’s just all more configurable now. Use what you like, don’t what you don’t… that’s kind of the thought process.

  23. […] head to create a personal newspaper and I think Newsvine might be the place to do it. They’ve redesigned many aspects of the site, most notably their front page, which is now customizable with modules, […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe by Email

... or use RSS