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Regional publisher switches to newspaper-branded websites

A leading regional publisher has begun the roll-out of a series of new-look websites branded in line with its newspapers.

Until now, companion websites for the former Northcliffe titles have appeared under the ‘thisis’ brand.

However although the thisis sites will continue for the time being, new owner Local World is now launching what it is calling “publisher-branded” sites alongside them.

The first seven went live last week, with the full roll-out of more than 80 sites due to be complete by the summer.

The homepage of the new Debry Telegraph site which went live last week

The seven sites that have so far gone live are: www.ExeterExpressandEcho.co.uk, www.BristolPost.co.uk, www.HullDailyMail.co.uk, www.DerbyTelegraph.co.uk,  www.WesternMorningNews.co.uk, www.Ely-News.co.uk, www.GloucesterCitizen.co.uk.

Some of the titles in question, such as the Western Morning News, have not previously had a dedicated web presence, with its content appearing on thisiscornwall, thisisdevon and thisisplymouth.

Alan Renwick, executive director for the LW transformation team said: “This is the first stage in a major expansion of our digital activity: high impact, content rich websites that reflect and extend the power of our print brands.

“We’ll be closely monitoring audience trends and feedback before rolling out further sites and introducing some exciting content enhancements across Local World.”

Local World is treating the initial roll-out phase as a “soft launch” designed to test user reaction ahead of the full roll-out.

An internal announcement stated that the new sites were designed to be “more tabloid” in feel with an “uncluttered style.”

Eventually, the company plans that much of the content on the new sites will be generated by users.

Chief executive Steve Auckland told last week’s Society of Editors Regional Conference that the company wanted to see a 20-fold increase in the volume of digital content, most of it user-generated.

The internal announcement stated that as the sites develop they will have “a greater range of news content which will be more fluid and dynamic than before, with updates throughout the day.

“While print and digital brands are being aligned, their content will become far more starkly differentiated. In particular, the digital platforms will include a far wider range of content sources, especially user generated material,” it added.

The Telegraph's old thisisderbyshire platform which will continue alongside the new site for the time being

 

14 comments

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  • April 22, 2013 at 10:00 am
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    There are plenty of people on the shopfloor who said from the start that newspaper-branded websites were the way to go — plus a simple little thing like displaying the front and back pages as a selling point for the print product. To be fair, that used to be done but for some reason or other fell out of favour.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 10:08 am
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    My goodness.
    That is truly terrible.
    Looks like a site for the visually-impaired.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 10:25 am
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    Having looked at the ‘new’ look on the Northcliffe website it is difficult to know where to start!

    If you are going to do a terrible impression of the The Mail’s website just copy it lock, stock and barrel. Don’t do a half hearted botch job because you don’t want it to look too much like the mothership but you end up with a website a bunch of 15-year-old media GCSE students could make a better job of.

    What a shocking indictment these websites are of our so called media experts. I feel sorry for the honest, hard-working Northcliffe journalists who have come to work and look at their ‘new’ website.

    Hearts will be sinking all over the country

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  • April 22, 2013 at 10:35 am
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    OMG it’s AWFUL!

    Just click through to the Derby Telegraph one – it’s like something from the early days of the web in the 1980s!

    Go on, have a look. You WILL NOT believe your eyes.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 10:40 am
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    New sites are so much better but still a silly amount of adverts. It just cheapens the whole thing and makes it look like the effort of some bed-room based website maker, especially national ads that have no relevance and appear all over the place already.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 11:17 am
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    Agree with above. The worst thing with these adverts is that many are generic, Adsense ads. Which bring in pennies and just clutter up the page. But what’s worse, it’s taken more than 10 years, millions of pounds, dozens of jobs and God knows what else to realise that branded website DO NOT WORK. While these sites are never going to be great as they have to maximise advertising across every screen millimetre to try to pay for staffing levels that are way above what such a website can maintain, at least they are away from the ThisIs theme. If Northcliffe had employed bright young things and left them to get on with it, not older heads mired in newspapers, they may have spotted this years ago.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 11:21 am
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    Ignore how it looks right now and just praise someone for doing something positive.

    Too many newspapers put their feet up to the line then just stare at one another waiting to see who will make the step.

    Finally, someone’s had the balls to do something. And, let’s face it, this is a brave step in the right direction.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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    Finally my newspaper will have its own website. For years customers have been baffled when I tell them we don’t have own our website& directed to them to the awful ‘thisis’ wierd named brand. Fantasic news and a step forward.

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  • April 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm
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    Don’t confuse “high impact” with astonishingly ugly. “Our Tube”! Whatever next, “FriendFace”? “Ebuy”?

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  • April 23, 2013 at 11:07 am
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    Newspaper branded sites are a great idea – but these just look horrible. It’s like viewing a mobile site on a computer – it just looks wrong…

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