Call it a redesign. Call it Newsvine 2.0. Call it whatever you want, but today Newsvine is proud to announce the first major overhaul of our site since launching a little more than a year ago. It's an exciting thing for the team and for the now 600,000 people who visit the site every month because it not only provides a hugely enhanced front page but also showcases a lot of the great technology we've been building behind the scenes over the last several months.
Newsvine Evergreen begins today with the relaunch of the front page but is part of a much bigger effort to spread the vine outside the walls of our own domain and into all corners of the internet and blogosphere; the goal being to bring the news to wherever it naturally wants to go.
So what's new so far?
The most common request we get on Newsvine is that people want to emphasize or de-emphasize certain parts of the front page. We have our own ideas for what the front page of a news site should look like and you have yours. Most major news sites attempt to solve this problem by maintaining their editorially imposed front page and then offering a "My" page which users can play around with and customize. The result of this strategy is almost always two-fold: 1) Barely anyone customizes. 2) Even among those who customize, there is hesitancy among users to give up their daily reading of the front page in favor of the "My" page. This is evident from sites like ESPN and Yahoo News, both of which have feature-rich "My" pages but do a ton more traffic on their front pages.
So the question for us became, how do we provide a front page that contains the ideals of a major news site but still allows for complete customization? The answer: modularization. The new Newsvine front page begins as we think many users would like it: big top story, most popular seeds up top, most active stories prominently placed, and so on down the list. But as you go down each column, you'll notice tons of new things which you may like better than the things at the tops of the pages. If you do, just start draggin' stuff around until you're happy. Feel free also to close modules you don't use or add new ones that aren't in the default set.
Local Headlines and Weather
Another frequent request we've gotten over the past year is to beef up localized content around the Vine. Since weather is a staple of any local news diet, we're now automatically detecting your general location based on IP address and serving you up a 5-day forecast right on the front page, courtesy of Weather Underground. We are also now the only major news site that gives you the option to display your temperature in Kelvin.
Did you hear that? We said Kelvin! So now when it's freezing outside, you can switch over to Kelvin and bask in the illusion that it's a balmy 270!
We've also gone through and collected the local news RSS feeds from hundreds of newspaper sites around the country so we can automatically show you your local news in a module alongside the rest of your content.
Our live feed of all actions occurring within Newsvine now takes a seat at the grownups' table with this redesign. Newsvine Live is a great way to discover new content before it gets popular, and it's an easy way to get yourself some exposure as well.
The News in Pictures
Sometimes you're not in the mood to read articles and would rather get a visual tour of what's newsworthy on any given day. The News in Pictures is a continuously updated slideshow -- with captions -- of all the latest content coming in from the AP. Sure you'll see the occasional unflattering mug shot of an escaped convict, but we're actually quite surprised and pleased with the general quality of the photos that roll through this module on a daily basis. We have other plans for this module which include accepting user submissions, but for now, enjoy the first incarnation.
Newsvis is a visualization tool we've developed to help you easily identify how much of Newsvine you're really covering. So much news flows through this place that often something extremely voteworthy or commentworthy can be missed entirely by casual users. Newsvis shows you a colorful map of all the latest popular stories and clues you into which ones you may have missed.
External RSS Feeds
Let's say the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Techcrunch, and every other source linked to or hosted on Newsvine just isn't enough for you. Let's say you live in the tiny village of Podoliantsi, and the Podoliantsi Post-Intelligencer is the only news source covering your neighborhood. As long as they have an RSS feed, you can now add it to your Newsvine front page... along with any blog you're interested in, any Twitter RSS feed, or any Del.icio.us linkroll.
Newsvine Group Showcase
Since introducing Newsvine Groups a few months ago, we've watched as people have self-organized into hundreds of social circles around interests, locations, and political ideologies. Groups has never had any marketing behind it or more than a small item in the navbar, but even in this semi-stealth state, it's shown its popularity. With the launch of the new front page, however, Groups gets its own module to showcase a weighted random assortment some of the more active organizations around the Vine. The ultimate goal of Newsvine Groups is to take the pool of hundreds of thousands of people who visit Newsvine and create a vast array of smaller populations, with more meaningful personal ties between members.
Top Seeds from Source
Some of the best content on Newsvine comes from the New York Times, The BBC, The Washington Post, and ESPN, but up until now, there's been no easy way to see it all grouped by source. We've started you out with a New York Times module by default so now you can see the latest New York Times seeds all in one place. Prefer Fish 'N Chips to Pastrami On Rye? No problem... switching to the BBC is one click away.
With all of this new content, you can imagine that screen real estate could get a bit tight. For this reason, we've enabled users with gigantic monitors to expand their layout to four columns and a whopping 1300 pixels of width. If you're so inclined, just click the little green button on the right side of the screen and spread out like a polar bear. Hint: We think the coolest two modules to push over there are weather and Newsvine Live. Give it a shot.
So What's Next?
We can't say right now, but it's election-related and you can look for it in a few weeks. We hope you enjoy the new and emerging Newsvine, and if you're already a member, we thank you so much for your patronage!