AddThis SmartLayers

Regional publisher overhauls online network

A weekly newspaper has relaunched its website with a new look as part of a major overhaul of a publisher’s online network.

Exeter’s Express & Echo revamped its site, adding in a number of new features such as a ‘breaking news’ ticker along the top of the front page and displaying the print title’s logo more prominently.

The new site has taken inspiration from Mail Online and included a column along the right hand sidebar featuring the most popular stories, as well as returning the ‘what’s on’ section to the homepage and enlarging both the news and sport boxes.

The move came after parent company Northcliffe rolled out mobile-friendly versions of all its thisis sites with the number of people visiting its pages from their phones predicted to soar in the coming months.

Express & Echo editor Andy Phelan said the team hoped the new, user-friendly site would create greater commercial possibilities as well as boosting web traffic.

“The new homepage offers a far more user-friendly platform and its design has been influenced by some of the world’s most popular and successful news websites,” he said.

“It allows us to display our content in a more structured way, with greater clarity around the different channels.

“It’s early days but all the feedback so far has been very positive and we look forward to continuing to grow numbers of unique users, page views and repeat visitors.”

Other changes include a user-generated content area including polls and galleries, a Jobsite widget, more prominent business directory listings and an improved Google search index.

The new-look website, which launched last week in the hope of boosting visitor numbers and commercial opportunities

A revamped version of, featuring similar changes, will be launched on 12 February 2013 while the new site will launch on 26 March.

The new sites have been developed as part of an overall revamp of the thisis brand.

The company has now rolled out HTML5-friendly mobile websites for the whole network, improving the speed and ease with which visitors can navigate the sites.

Lee Williams, executive digital director for Northcliffe, which runs the sites, said the changes were in response to a significant increase in the number of people accessing the web pages from smartphones.

A total of 31pc of all visitors to thisis… sites in November did so from a mobile handset, including 2.4m unique visitors.

The thisis network will be transferred to new publishing company Local World as part of Northcliffe Media’s merger with the Iliffe newspaper group.