The Hindu has redesigned its website, the beta version of which went live on Independence Day. Designed by Mario Garcia Jr, the redesigned website (beta.thehindu.com) co-exists with the older website.
A note carried on the older website briefly mentions about the introduction of the redesigned website along with the changes and transfer of content. The note categorically mentions that the new-look website retains its core values of independence, authenticity, and credibility while adopting contemporary web design principles, tools, and features.
When contacted, N Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, explained, “The primary reason for this is that while we have a huge following for our website – 50 per cent from outside India, 50 per cent here – there was a feeling that the website needed a wholly new feel and new features. That it was not enough to reproduce print content, that we needed to contemporise our Internet and digital media operations. Our website was looking old-fashioned, though it had a great use.”
Ram is a regular Internet news consumer and is active on Twitter.
Buoyant about the response to the new-look website, he said, “The positive response to beta.thehindu.com is about 98 per cent. We have announced a Web First policy, where our correspondents can break news stories before the newspaper goes to print, but with significant exceptions. The reason for this is that unfortunately in India, there are regular cases of infringement – lifting exclusive stories, and not so much as giving credit to you as the source. But relatively few stories available pre-print will be withheld from the website. The exceptions will not become the rule.”
He further said, “Considering the work involved in developing our new website and in providing rich online, including multi-media, content, we are in the process of hiring people with a feel for digital journalism. The response to the announcement that we were hiring for the website has been big. We hope to have a much stronger Internet editorial team in the near future.”
Commenting on the new design of the website, R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, told exchange4media, “The beta version of The Hindu is a step in the right direction. The website now is more user-friendly, and widgety on type of news information in addition to easier moving across different topics. The website is also mobile-friendly with simple navigation.”
“At first glance, the website seems to have an uncanny similarity to New York Times, though,” he added.
Sharing some more information on the exclusive features on the beta website, N Ram said, “As far as I am aware, at this point there is no other Indian newspaper website that has topic-based exploratory and research capability. Our ‘Topics’ section populates prospectively, is ‘self-populating’, you might say.”
“Our designer, Garcia Media, is the best newspaper design firm in the world. They first redesigned all our print publications. The advanced website design was done by Mario Garcia Jr. There were several meetings in Chennai and, equally important, intensive interactions with him over an extended period. He was very responsive to our ideas and requirements. We decided to follow a classical, pure, and uncluttered yet contemporary design. We are extremely happy with Mario Garcia Jr’s work. Nagaraj Nagabushanam (Senior General Manager - New Medi), who started out as a journalist, and Internet Editor G Anankrishnan and his team worked splendidly with the designer. They made several suggestions through the whole process.”
It may be noted that exchange4media had earlier reported that The Hindu was planning to redesign its website. In the same report, it was mentioned that the group had decided to discontinue with the print edition of its free tabloid Ergo. The tabloid has been available in its online avatar only at www.goergo.in since August 1, 2009. The last print issue of Ergo came out on July 31, 2009.
The Hindu, started in 1878 as a weekly, became a daily in 1889. At present, the group has The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Sportstar, and fortnightly magazine Frontline in its stable. Three months ago, The Hindu group had joined hands with NDTV to launch Chennai’s first and only city-specific English news and entertainment channel ‘NDTV Hindu.
The Hindu’s Ergo ceases to exist in print avatar, to be online-only from today