New feature: the news section on your homepage has changed

Yesterday we changed the news section on the UK homepage following feedback from you, our users.
 
Instead of having three tabbed sections: News, World News and Odd News, we now have two. You can access articles from MSN UK’s news content providers – Press Association, ITN, and Reuters – in the first News tab, and Headlines Around the Web in the second tab.
 
The latter is a selection of stories collated by our editors and presented as news search results from Bing, allowing you to find out more information on the hot topics of the day.
 
Some of you had given feedback saying the World News and Odd News didn’t update often enough for you, so we have made the change to give you better access to the stories that matter to you most.
 
What do you think of the change? Please let us know by commenting below.
 
Posted by Laura, MSN Homepage Team.
 
 
Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

MSN publishes Code of Conduct

Dear Readers
 
Today we’re publishing an MSN Code of Conduct, our statement of what you can expect from MSN and our content.
 
The Code has been prepared by MSN editors from around the world with significant input from those responsible for the UK site. It is a public statement from Microsoft’s online publishing service of the principles under which we try to operate to bring you entertaining, informative and responsible information.
 
The six-point code covers our obligation to source material from our own journalists and our suppliers and present it clearly and transparently, to take your feedback, and to protect your privacy and personal data.
 
I regard the Code as a small public step to show that MSN is more than the UK’s most popular portal. We have grown the journalistic and publishing team on MSN UK dramatically in recent years, creating not just a compelling homepage but deep "channels" covering Cars, Life & Style, Money, Tech & Gadgets, Him, Movies, Music, TV and Celebrity and News. The Code shows what you can expect from us and we want you to hold us to it.
 
I attach the code below and it is also available online in our Feedback & Contact MSN section: http://extras.uk.msn.com/code-of-conduct
We welcome your comments on this or any other aspect of the site on the Comment area of this blog or emailed to: msnhomepage@live.co.uk
May I also remind you of a Code of Conduct for readers which explains policies we expect users to abide by when engaging with the MSN site, for example when commenting on stories or message boards: http://explore.live.com/code-of-conduct
 
Regards, Peter Bale, MSN UK
 
The MSN Code of Conduct
 
1. Commitment to Truth:
MSN will ensure editorial content upholds the journalistic commitment to truth, accuracy, fairness and freedom from bias, offering users balanced content. Opinion will be clearly labeled and differentiated from factual content. MSN will respect users from all backgrounds and perspectives.
 

2. Commitment to Transparency:
MSN users can expect transparency and openness in editorial and business practices, the best identification of information sources in stories possible and explicit identification of advertising-supported content. MSN will clearly identify the creators and sources of its published content. MSN is accountable and will always try to flag and correct factual mistakes quickly.

3. Commitment to Integrity:
MSN, and all staff, will operate with professional publishing integrity, respecting users and offering fair coverage. It will disclose gifts or privileges from sources, partners or others who might seek to gain influence over editorial output. In the many countries where it operates it will try to respect local sensitivities, laws and cultures.

4. Commitment to Independence:
While MSN is owned by Microsoft, its portals, content and commercial policies will represent independent judgment. It will resist undue political or commercial pressures, internal or external and offer a forum for free debate.

5. Commitment to Privacy:
MSN will protect user privacy and personal data.

6. Commitment to quality:
MSN listens to its users who can expect a dedication to the highest quality in content services and advertising. It will use reliable, effective and innovative technologies to deliver compelling experiences and will respond to feedback.

Ends

 
 
 
Posted in Computers and Internet | 11 Comments

The new MSN UK homepage – a week on

Dear Readers
 
The new MSN UK homepage has now been live for a week and released to all our readers.
 
We designed the page to be faster, easier to navigate, more legible, better connected to your social networks, give you more video, and more news.
If you want to know more we have a video tour here: http://tourmsn.co.uk
 
The speed to download is now faster than the old page and ahead of major competitors. We’ll continue working on it to ensure the news, pictures, video and important areas like Hotmail and weather download as fast as possible, making the page even more useful.
 
We’ve added more news higher on the page with more headlines for breaking News, more headlines for World News and a new Odd News column for those quirky stories we all love to read and share.
 
Video is proving very popular and your use of the homepage to get to the MSN Video Player service with its free-on demand TV shows has risen sharply. Thanks and we hope you are finding that entertaining.
 
I recognise that many readers have found the change jolting and the early performance problems irritating. I apologise again for that.
 
On some specific issues:
– Hotmail: The inbox is bigger but has set to "hide" your emails not "show" them as the old page did. We are looking to change that soon based on your feedback.
– Stocks quotes: The FTSE and stocks module will come back soon and we had a late problem which meant it did not make launch. We regret that.
– Weather: Details of the weather to be expected rather than the day will be restored when you "mouse over" the symbols. Thanks to you for spotting that error.
– White space: We have increased white space and reduced visual crowding on the page but are doing some work to reduce some of the excess to highlight content
 
I do hope you are finding the page more familiar and that it is doing what you need it to do and giving you more pictures, more stories and more video.
I welcome your feedback on this blog or on email to me and my team: msnhomepage@live.co.uk
 
Peter Bale, MSN UK
 
 
Posted in Computers and Internet | 10 Comments

An update on the new MSN UK home page

Dear Readers

I appreciate the comments from so many of you who have given us valuable insight and pause for thought.

The page load time yesterday and Wednesday was unacceptable. You are right and it should not have been that slow.
It also took us longer than it should have to solve the problem. Sorry.
You should now find the page loads much faster.
On the design issues and the overwhelming comments on this and the previous entry which criticised the whiter, more widely spaced look, we also recognise that it may not suit everyone and that the space may well be too generous.
We did test this design in the UK and yes, it was influenced by the design direction from other MSN markets but it is significantly different and tailored to be more familiar to users of the page we served you until Tuesday.
This is not a justification but an explanation to reflect and respond openly to your comments.
We will continue working with our designers and engineers to improve the performance and make MSN the most legible, useful, impactful website it can be.
There are more news headlines on the page than there were, bigger images at the top of the page (which I know some of you do not like) and more Video (which our figures show you using at double the rate of a week ago).
More of you than a week ago are also using our Bing search engine which we hope you find useful.
We are listening and if you wish to contact me directly, and get a direct response please email me and my team on:
msnhomepage@live.co.uk

Regards,

Peter Bale, Executive Producer, MSN UK
Posted in Computers and Internet | 100 Comments

New MSN homepage explained

From the executive producer of MSN UK

Dear Readers,

Thanks again for all the feedback on this message board and I do recognise that most of the first reactions posted here are negative. We are taking them on board and looking at ways in which we can effectively address some of your concerns, particularly on issues like Hotmail where the experience should only have improved. Click here for the previous posts.

We do take your comments seriously and I recognise how much a part of your Internet life the old homepage was. We introduced it two and a half years ago to bring features like Hotmail more to the fore and add more journalism and content.

The new page is intended to take that further with stronger impages in the main news panel below the navigation and more hard news, world news and odd news below the editor’s picks. Video has moved up the page to its own position beside News which reflects its increasing importance to our readers, particularly with the new MSN Video Player TV service.

We are concerned that so many of you have mentioned the page is loading slowly. It should be significantly faster than your old MSN homepage and in testing today was faster than competitor pages but we need to do more and are working on it. The page is considerably shorter than the old page which should help with weight and scrolling.

If you are not seeing the benefit of these changes — which so many of your comments suggest — we will work on it.

If I may address some of the specific concerns which have been raised by some of you, without wishing to sound reactive or to justify changes which clearly some people may still dislike.

Our goal is to make the page faster to access, put more of the news and services you need in front of you — breaking news about today’s shooting incident for example — as well as your Hotmail and now other services like Facebook and Twitter.

The space devoted to the column which contains Hotmail and services like Weather is much wider, allowing improved visibility of your Hotmaill or social network feeds. We have made those changes based on research, feedback and experience — from the UK. We know how important that column is to you and it is intended to offer increasingly levels of personalisation over time.

Several people have complained about the absence of live stock quotes such as the FTSE index. We have a link on that right hand column but have some work to do to replace the live stocks but the data will appear shortly. The same is true for live Horoscopes which will be reinstated on the page shortly. We have not changed our astrology service. Here is the link to stock quotes. Here is the link to the Horoscopes page.

We hope you find the Weather service improved along with the ability to add extra locations to see multiple cities at once.

We have dropped the option to personalise the colour scheme on the homepage. A tiny fraction of readers used this in the past and while I recognise that for those people it was a feature they liked we could not justify continuing it. The same is true for the plus and minus buttons on the old page which changed the number of headlines in each module: a tiny fraction of users took advantage of it but I do recognise that if you did like it you may feel the loss of it at first glance of the new page.

There are a few issues raised which challenge some basic assumptions about the new page.

The search bar to use Microsoft’s Bing search is proportionally the same size as it was but may appear larger as the navigation now stretches across the entire page in a way which is intended to make it more legible. I am sure you will appreciate that we believe that the combination of MSN and the Bing search engine is a powerful one and important to us commercially. We will constantly add new features from Bing and work to make the Bing search bar engaging and useful to you.

On the issue of advertising. There are no more advertisements on the new page than there were on the old page. The main display advertisement — the square on the right side below the navigation is the same size as it has been and is an internationally standard advertisement size. I do recognise that some readers dislike advertisements which move or take over more of the screen but we use those sparingly on MSN and usually by the user initiating the ad with a click or "mouseover".

MSN is a free site funded by advertising and we have no intention to put any of our content behind a paywall.

The new site reflects the experience of the past two and a half years of the old page during which time we have added more journalistic staff and new services like MSN Him, MSN Travel, MSN Local and news suppliers like Daily Beast and Marie Claire.

The use of white space and the text spacing and size reflects what our designers believe are the appropriate modern approaches to legibility and other factors such as making contact searchable.

I realise change on a familiar site can be jolting but the intention has been to add fresh services, a clearer look and feel to the site and improve speed and services while keeping the colour scheme and general placement of crucial content like News, Sport, Entertainment, Cars and Money in broadly similar locations. Video is, for the reason I explained, more prominent.

So, we are listening and we appreciate your comments no matter what.
If you would like to contact me or my team directly please either continue to comment on this thread or email: msnhomepage@live.co.uk

Regards
Peter Bale, Executive Producer, MSN UK

Posted in Computers and Internet | 98 Comments

Your new homepage has arrived!

Posted by Paul, Homepage Editor
 
The new MSN UK homepage has gone live. Discover the benefits with our tour.
 
The redesign is the result of analysis and worldwide design and audience research and follows a new homepage on MSN in the United States and Brazil.
 
The new homepage has a simple and fresh design that fully integrates content from Microsoft’s new search engine Bing as well as a bold new search bar.
 
MSN Video Player, the site’s video on demand service where you can watch your favourite shows for free, plays right on the homepage for users with Silverlight.
 
The new page re-launch also adds new features, incorporated to strengthen the quality of the user experience with simpler navigation, faster download and clearer imagery and to showcase the exclusive and unique content that MSN publishes every day. These include:
 
• Social media – an integrated social networking section that means users can access and update Windows Live, Facebook and Twitter directly from the homepage
 
• More news – an innovative news info-pane, with top headlines, breaking stories and weird and wonderful tales from around the world
 
• Bigger and better Hotmail –  Hotmail inbox from the homepage, allowing you to be updated when new mail has been received
 
• Larger images – a new slideshow at the top of the homepage that provides access to up-to-the-minute news, exclusive editors’ picks and the latest new videos at the click of a button.  Sports, Cars and Money also have a new spot on the homepage, while the simple alphabetical navigation bar locates MSN channels instantly
 
• New brand – a sleek new MSN logo that has been rolled out across the UK site, synching up with the new global brand of MSN
 
• Content – all the best from user favourites, such as Entertainment, Life & Style, Tech & Gadgets, Shopping, Him, as well as personal essentials like Local, Weather, Horoscopes and stock market updates
 
• Video – the ability to watch clips from within the homepage, plus access to the latest HD videos and VOD with MSN Video Player
 
 
 
What do you think about the new homepage? Please share your thoughts. Your feedback is important to us.
Posted in Uncategorized | 100 Comments

Your homepage is changing

Posted by Paul, Homepage Editor
 
Microsoft is preparing to unveil a new look and new features on the MSN UK homepage.
 
The new homepage is faster to download, adds more video content, more news and adds access to Facebook and Twitter as well as Microsoft services like Hotmail and Windows Live.

MSN’s redesign is the result of analysis and worldwide design and audience research and follows a new homepage on MSN in the United States and Brazil.

The new homepage has a simple and fresh design that fully  integrates content from Microsoft’s new search engine Bing as well as a bold new search bar.

MSN Video Player, the site’s video on demand service where you can watch your favourite shows for free, plays right on the homepage for users with Silverlight.
The new page re-launch also adds new features, incorporated to strengthen the quality of the user experience with simpler navigation, faster download and clearer imagery and to showcase the exclusive and unique content that MSN publishes every day. These include:

• Social media – an integrated social networking section that means users can access and update Windows Live, Facebook and Twitter directly from the homepage

• More news – an innovative news info-pane, with top headlines, breaking stories and weird and wonderful tales from around the world

• Bigger and better Hotmail –  Hotmail inbox from the homepage, allowing you to be updated when new mail has been received

• Larger images – a new slideshow at the top of the homepage that provides access to up-to-the-minute news, exclusive editors’ picks and the latest new videos at the click of a button.  Sports, Cars and Money also have a new spot on the homepage, while the simple alphabetical navigation bar locates MSN channels instantly

• New brand – a sleek new MSN logo that has been rolled out across the UK site, synching up with the new global brand of MSN

• Content – all the best from user favourites, such as Entertainment, Life & Style, Tech & Gadgets, Shopping, Him, as well as personal essentials like Local, Weather, Horoscopes and stock market updates

• Video – the ability to watch clips from within the homepage, plus access to the latest HD videos and VOD with MSN Video Player

Posted in Uncategorized | 96 Comments