March 11, 2010

Revamped MSN homepage embraces changing digital environment

MSN rolled out a new homepage Wednesday. Or more precisely, it’s in the process of rolling it out to the site’s 100 million users.  MSN’s initial redesign began last November when it was road-tested for a small segment of its users to solicit feedback.

In addition to revamping its design - its first serious makeover in a decade - Microsoft added a number of new features. Prominent among those features is a large push for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. With Bing showing steady growth in the share of search queries, this comes as no surprise.

The redesign also incorporates a new module for local news, another fast-growing segment of MSN’s site traffic. Additionally, MSN has aggregated its social networking, with popular trend watches, Hotmail, Twitter and Facebook tabs.

All of this isn’t to say the new MSN homepage is a success or failure. Change isn’t easy for a lot of users, and the loss of the MSN’s trademark blue background alone will be enough to cause some initial anxiety.

While I’m not one of the 100 million MSN users, I do think the cleaner look, simpler navigation, and the emphasis on local and social media are all vast improvements.

But love it or hate it, Microsoft’s decision to revamp underscores the need for even monolithic properties to evolve with the ever-changing digital environment.

Addressing that environment is the key to any digital content strategy. Microsoft did that. Social networking? Check. Hyper-local news? Check. A core company initiative in Bing? Check.

For properties as big as Microsoft, change often comes with big creaking sounds, but not changing means being left behind.

Bing continues search climb, Google still leads {BtoBonline}

New MSN Homepage Begins Full Roll-Out {}

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