New 'LAT' Web Site Was Months in the Making

By: Jennifer Saba The Los Angeles Times on Thursday re-launched a Web site that finally makes it worthy of one of the nation's top five newspaper Web sites.

It was the last of the Tribune newspaper properties to introduce a new look, a process that was many months in the making.

"I feel with this design, we have given the people of Los Angeles the Web site they deserve," said Meredith Artley, managing editor, online of the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Times has been consistently growing its traffic. The site increased its unique users in June 66% year-over-year to 10.2 million according to Nielsen Online. The site was also the second most visited newspaper Web site in June, behind, which had 17.4 million uniques.

The clean use of white space -- gone is sans-serif font and many shades of blue -- elevates the content as well as the advertising. Below the traditional flag are clear section tabs. The use of white space carries through the entire site, not just the top half. Artley said they were very conscience of providing additional content at the bottom without making it look like a "junk drawer."

The Los Angeles Times drew upon several resources including Tribune executives in Chicago and Frog Design, which drafted up some initial plans. Ultimately though the decisions were made in L.A. with Stephanie Ferrell serving as lead designer.

On the advertising side, Juliana Jaoudi, vice president of digital sales at the Los Angeles Times, said they wanted to make a "crisper cleaner environment" around ad units. The most important change, she said, is that the units now have flexibility.

Inventory is focused on six different units: the leader, the cube, a cube that expands to three sizes, and the classic sky.

"The major thing is the publishing platform" -- built in-house -- "lets us do things that are unique and innovative. We could do it before but it took extra muscle," Jaoudi said.

The Times didn't trim back its available inventory: "We tried to clean up the pages. A lot of news sites have random ad sizes plopped in places. We tried to avoid that."

Another change: the site moved its "leader" unit below the section mastheads giving it more prominent placement.

When going through the process, Artley recommends working very closely with the technology team. "You are going to get a better site with a smoother launch if you really think this through with the tech team."


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here