FT.com has been scrapped as a masthead – in favour “Financial Times” – giving the home page a similar look to that of the newspaper, complete with a sky-panel promoting inside content and bigger headlines and photos on the home page.
The new-look site even appears on the same pink colour background as the one the paper is printed on.
The whole look of the site has been simplified – with scaled-down horizontal navigation bar at the top of the homepage to replace the long-detailed navigation list which currently appears on the left-hand side of the site.
Cramming lots of stories on to the homepage has the advantage of making them easier to find for casual readers of the site coming in via search engines.
But FT online editor James Montgomery said that the new look was intended to improve the experience of the site’s regular readers.
He told Press Gazette: “The idea is to encourage users to browse across the site rather than find everything in one place on a busy and cluttered homepage.”
He added: “It’s fine to have millions and millions of random users from around the web but that audience is very hard to monetise accept through lowest common denominator advertising that earns you very little.
“Our design is built for people who want to read the FT and we hope it will deepen their engagement and make them more likely to become subscribers.”
He said that technical changes at the back-end of the site should out-weigh the search-engine-optimisation drawbacks which come from having a less busy homepage.
These include changing the website addresses, or urls, of individual stories so they include keywords from the story – rather than just being meaningless computer code, as is the case currently.
The new-look site has different homepages reflecting the different geographical editions of the FT newspaper published in the UK, Asia, the US, Europe and the Middle East.
Montgomery revealed that the FT now has 800,000 registered users who have signed up since it changed its access model a year ago. Last October it went from being mainly subscriber-only to allowing limited free access.
The current model allows non-registered users to access four articles for free a month – after that they must register. Those wishing to read more than 20 articles a month must take out a subscription to read more.
The FT currently has around 100,000 subscribers, which is roughly the same amount as a year ago.
The new-look site is built on the same content-management-system technical platform as before, called Methode by Eidos, and the new look was designed by design agency Razorfish.
The last ABCe figures for the FT, published in March, revealed that it had 7.1 million unique users a month.