Microsoft’s Web portal MSN will on Wednesday (Nov. 4) unveil its most significant redesign in a decade, as the company looks to increase engagement on the property, while spurring more usage of its fledgling search product Bing.
“We think we’ve designed the best homepage on the Web,” said Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer, MSN. According to Moore, the new homepage is designed to focus on four key areas, which reflect overarching consumer trends and user research: video, social networking, search and local.
The new page also considerably pares down the amount of text links on the front page; instead of links to over 30 channels, there are now five key sections: News, Entertainment, Sports, Money and Lifestyle. The result is a strikingly cleaner, more sparse look. “This was a complete overhaul,” said Moore.
The overhaul is not necessarily aimed at winning new users but will keep MSN users around more. “We already have 100 million users in the U.S., which is a fairly mature Web market. Our biggest goal is to drive engagement.”
To that end, like its portal brethren Yahoo and AOL, the new MSN allows users to interact with their e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts without leaving the homepage. Plus, users will be able to access more local information via a new product that incorporates real time local information--much of which is culled from Bing.
Moore said that when he left Yahoo to rejoin MSN last year, he had planned on launching his own local Web startup. Instead, many of the concepts he explored at that time have made their way onto the new local component of MSN. For example, users can sift through automated listings of local events without visiting another site. “No one else has this,” said Moore, who said the product represents the "intersection of search and browse.”
The hope is that that intersection will encourage more users to try Bing, which has been well received but still trails Google by a huge margin. “Bing has great awareness,” said Moore. “But getting someone to use it regularly is another thing entirely.”
Advertising-wise, not much has changed in terms of the types of ad units MSN will offer. What should appeal to brands, said Moore, is how their creative looks on this much cleaner page. “We deliberately left a fair amount of white space around ads,” he said. “We think this makes them really pop.”
— Nielsen Business Media