From the executive producer of MSN UK
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Bale, Executive Producer, MSN UK