Fairfax rolls out new look Age website promising better engagement from a cleaner design

The Age has unveiled its new website this morning as part of the company wide upgrade of  Fairfax Media’s online city mastheads.

Fairfax Media’s revamp started with The Brisbane Times website last August and will finish with the Sydney Morning Herald later this month.

“It’s been a really interesting journey,” Matt Rowley, Fairfax’s chief revenue officer explained to Mumbrella.

“There’s been a number of different learnings that came out of that, I think one of them was that we clearly focused the Brisbane content so it was front and centre.”

The Age’s new website

Rowley told Mumbrella the new site features revamped advertising features based on what they had learned from the Brisbane Times relaunch. These features will also be incorporated in the Sydney Morning Herald when its upgrade is rolled out later this month.

“We launched the new ad units which were simplified but clearly had a much higher impact and immersive qualities. What we found is they worked better on the newer Brisbane Times sites,” Rowley said. “What we found was the cleaner site made for higher engagement.”

“We’ve been testing almost daily,” Rowley continued.

“The first design we tried had had a horizontal feel in mobile. It was more of a swipe across. What we found was that people thought we were keeping stories from them so now there’s much more of a vertical feel to the top stories so people can see more content, more quickly.”

Matt Rowley head of revenue at Fairfax

Matt Rowley, head of revenue at Fairfax: “It’s been a really interesting journey.”

Rowley believes a key feature for readers is the registration option which is free and separate from The Age’s subscription service: “I think features like that give them a reason to come to straight to us in the morning.”

“It starts to build our relationship with people. As an old marketer myself you’d hope it gets people in the top of the funnel. One of the things we’re hoping to show people is more value and more utility. We’ve had this mantra around building the site that we want to create news experiences worth seeking out so that people can see why should they come to The Age website rather than go to their Facebook feed or whatever.”

Unlike the Brisbane Times, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald have print editions and Rowley explained how the recent redesigns of the newspapers were aimed at having a consistent feel with the website.

“We updated our print design in both the SMH and Age to reflect the visual language we put in place on the website back in December last year. We actually went through the process of stripping out elements, we changed the font to Abril that we also use in digital that we also used in print,” he said.

“If you look at the websites you’ll see a clear relationship. With the newspapers, people are really rusted into their habits so you only want to move things bit by bit. It’s subtle but in terms of the colours, the fonts and in terms of using white space the more similarities you’ll see.”


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