New Church Newsroom Beta Site

Today, the LDS Church launched a new beta Newsroom Website. As can be seen by clicking on the screen shots below, the difference between the two sites is quite remarkable, with considerable changes in content, format, functionality, and color scheme.

It’s a friendly, content-rich site that is highly social. From tracking trends to focusing attention via top stories and recent stories, the entire site follows modern convention for a very interactive — and very shareable — experience. The search functionality appears to be much improved, including searching of multimedia content. In short, the usability factor of the site is very high. According to the announcement on the Newsroom Blog, “significant technical enhancements have been made that will allow us to provide information to the news media, bloggers and the public much faster and more comprehensively.”

It’s very easy to stay connected with the new site — updates can come to you via Twitter, Facebook, email or a host of other networks. The Church is clearly taking social media seriously with this new format, perhaps recognizing that a large number of stories and articles will be shared one way or another… and hoping to be the centralized point of origin.

That said, the site does appear to have some divided attention problems. The old site had a primary central column and a couple of sidebars (the hallmark of a wise and noble site). This new site has trending stories, top stories, recent stories, spotlights, quick references… in short, a number of very urgent-looking captions, leaving the reader somewhat uncertain as to what really is the most important to look at. The site permits transmission of a greater number of stories and ideas, but at the cost of singular focus.

Being a beta, it’s not clear whether all the functionality and features are operational or finalized.  Naturally, the Church is depending on you, the faithful readers of BCC, to test all the features, push all the buttons, and provide feedback which will be immediately passed on to the President of the Church. Get on it!

Comments

  1. Awesome, thanks for pointing this out. The site looks wonderful.

  2. I think I like the old site better, but then I’m not really into social media either. More graphics means more head shots of beaming GAs, more pics of photogenic 20-somethings with human interest, etc. It’s the Church News with better graphics. The old site focused on content, which was what made it such a breath of fresh air.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    But Dave, in terms of screen room, there’s far more viewable content in the new site than on the old. There’s greater room for photos, true, but there’s also more content.

    P.S. ironic for a blogger to be “not really into social media.” I take it you’re not really into Mormonism or being a lawyer?

  4. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    I find it interesting that all of the new/beta stuff has the standard submission buttons for social networks. I guess that makes some sense here to share with your friends. I guess they really hope people will share and I’m glad to see they’ve put such things front and center. Not sure if they’ll see the results from this that they might be expecting, however. The Internet can be a fickle place and enabling sharing like this can result in an inordinate amount of attention being focused on something unexpected.

    (On a side note I still find it bizarre to see that social submission button when preparing my lesson from the Primary manual at the new.lds.org site. I’m not really sure that sharing the “Namaan is Healed” lesson is going to result in a ton of karma on Reddit…)

  5. The topic and navigation bar across the top of the site is fantastic IMO–and probably the best new feature to me. I also like the color scheme MUCH better, though that is probably not as high on a priority list as…well…anything else.

  6. NCN_T,
    Social media sharing buttons have achieved the same status as “Certified Organic” signs at the local farmer’s market: If you don’t have them, you just look out of touch and like the site hasn’t been updated for 8 years.

  7. Very nice- much friendlier and easier to navigate. Thanks for the heads-up, Scott.

  8. I’m just glad that “The Mormon Ethic of Civility” is right there front at center–at the moment, at least. I have to think that there was at least some thinking along the lines of: “What would we like people to see when they arrive here after hearing that Glenn Beck is Mormon?”

  9. A good friend of mine is a designer on this new beta. We’ve had some cool conversations about the potential this improvement will have for the Church. Thanks for the news Scott!

  10. Visually, I love it. Nice fonts (very Obama campaignesque!), nice colors, nice layout.

    While I don’t think the layout is too busy per se, the organization of the different channels is somewhat baffling. What is the difference between a “feature” and a “spotlight,” between “recent news and stories” and “the blog”?

    The navigation at top and bottom is nice–at least then you get a feel for what are all the different channels, in one place.

    I think it makes sense to have a “Top Story,” and beneath that the list of other stories, and beneath that the features.

    I would get rid of that that story right smack dab in the middle (that rotates content). It is unclear what it is (it doesn’t have a header like “top story,” “features,” etc) and, again, it just makes for too many different channels. Let the “recent news and stories” box just take over that space.

    Ditto, get rid of the “Spotlights” at the bottom right. Just have more “features” if you really need that many stories out there at once.

  11. Colors? It looks like it has gotten a lot more black and white. I don’t know about you all, but I plan on reading a lot of meaning into this.

  12. It’s great to hear the feedback. A couple of thoughts…

    Dave – This site has the same content as the previous site, although the content is much more accessible due to an improved search engine, better navigation, tags (to come), better linking, a topic index and more access points from the front page. There is less text on the front page, but most pieces require clicking to the article page to view the full story anyway. I think you’ll find that this site will have an even stronger content focus than the previous one, but with better graphics and navigation as well.

    Cynthia L. – Your point about the seemingly redundant sections is well taken. The idea here was to create a front page that displays a good variety of useful content without being too busy and text heavy, and to create a number of differing content categories so that a content piece can best be placed in its proper context. For instance, recent stories are more along the lines of news release, a feature can be a timeless background piece, blog posts tend to be more conversational, etc. The front page is very flexible and you’ll see all of it change often. For instance, there are four different top story modules.

  13. Lyman,
    Thanks for stopping by and giving an explanation and further detail on some of the features. I expect that some of the differences in the boxes and content areas will become more apparent over time as more stories are added, perhaps.

  14. Wow, great to hear from Lyman! Perhaps I let my time and training as a newspaper editor get the better of me in my rather blunt assessment of things and stating of suggestions. :) Like I said, I didn’t find it too busy, or too much different content, in general. The layout design is slick enough to gracefully allow for that much different content I think. It was just that the characteristics defining each channel were not immediately apparent. That said, I agree with Scott that frequent visitors should quickly acclimate to the nuances there.

  15. I am really impressed with the look and functioning of the new LDS site. I am wondering, a little bit, if the new.lds.org site is transferred over to the lds.org site … if that will somehow negatively effect links to the scriptures.lds.org part of the site.

    There is at least one blog that relies heavily on that part of the site for its functioning.

    For all I know, it will stay the same.

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