The Bristol Evening Post’s website, thisisbristol.co.uk, has been redesigned. The busy-looking central news section of the old site (similar to the front page of www.thisisnottingham.co.uk) has been replaced with a smaller headline section linking the day’s top stories.
The site now signposts sections with an attractive colour code. Coloured sections match up with the ‘Today in Bristol’ menu underneath the headline section, displaying listings in a more interesting format than usual. An innovative way to put advertising in a prominent place without making it look too pushy.
The redesigned site is a definite improvement. The old site was somewhat dull and difficult to navigate. Advertising seemed to be the priority over news. In fairness, this was the case with all the ‘thisis’ websites around the country. I’m sure Northcliffe Media is feeling the pinch in these challenging days for local newspapers. But investment in online presence is surely the only way forward for papers like the Bristol Evening Post. It is good to see a change.
Thisisbristol.co.uk could still be better. In particular, the new design is a bit messy when the front page is scrolled down. The colour coding is a neat idea but it doesn’t quite provide enough demarcation between stories and columns. Some of the stories could use a more prominent headline, or a summary.
The news section itself is much more appealing than the previous design. Interestingly, reader’s comments are included in the main list of stories. There is much more emphasis in community and interaction. Some of the comments have drawn a good number of responses and a decent level of debate, compared to many local news websites. It looks like a useful feature, but again, these reader-driven stories would perhaps benefit from proper headlines on the news section page.
Northcliffe’s hyperlocal network of Local People sites is linked in a sidebar, making neighbourhood content much easier to find. Bristol neighbourhoods and nearby towns – 13 in all – have dedicated sites. Sadly my own neighbourhood, Southmead, isn’t covered yet.
Local news websites should be a focal point of the communities they serve. This redesign puts www.thisisbristol.co.uk a little closer that, perhaps not yet close enough, but an improvement on the previous site.